DAWN - Features; December 30, 2006

Published December 30, 2006

PML CENTENARY: The League in Punjab

By Dr Mehdi Hasan

THE Muslim League in Punjab was founded in 1907 in Lahore by a landed aristocrat Mian Shahdin. He himself was the president of the organisation with the same aims and objectives as those declared a year earlier by the All India Muslim League when it was established at Dhaka in 1906. Earlier, an organisation with the same name and objectives was also established in Gurdaspur by Mian Fazle Hussain. Soon a rivalry began between the two parallel organisations in Punjab. When Mian Shahdin was appointed a judge of the Punjab Chief Court, he had to resign the presidentship of the League, leaving behind a clash between Mian (Sir) Fazle Hussain and Mian Muhammad Shafi for the top leadership of the newly established Muslim League.

Sir Fazle Hussain belonged to a known and influential family of Gurdaspur that had enjoyed a privileged position since the reign of the Sikh rulers. His father, Khan Bahadur Mian Hussain Bakhsh, was a retired district judge. Mian Fazle Hussain was also a classmate of Dr Muhammad Iqbal, at the Government College, Lahore, while in BA. After failing twice in the ICS examinations, he went to England and earned his BA from Cambridge and then returned as a barrister at law to start law practice at Sialkot. In 1905, he had moved to Lahore and from then onwards played an important role in Muslim politics, first from the Muslim League platform and then as a powerful and successful leader of the Unionist Party, which he had founded in January 1924.

In 1916, Fazle Hussain supported Jinnah’s stand of giving more representation to non-Muslims in Muslim majority provinces of Bengal and Punjab, as Congress had accepted the principle of separate electorate. Sir Mian Muhammad Shafi resigned from the Muslim League as a protest and Mian Fazle Hussain became the sole in-charge of Muslim League in the province.

The political situation in Punjab saw some turbulent years as a result of the Jalianwala Bagh tragedy in Amritsar and imposition of martial law at Amritsar and few other adjoining towns. With the repression unleashed by the Colonial rulers many militant organisations had also emerged in Punjab, most famous being the Bhagat Singh’s underground militant group. In the meantime, the Khilafat Movement had also failed and Muslim politicians and public were disillusioned with the Congress and the communal political moves made by Gandhi. Hindu-Muslim differences had become acute in Punjab.

Hindu capitalists held Mian Fazle Hussian responsible for communal politics, while the Muslim middleclass considered him a savior of Muslim interests. In November 1923, fresh elections for the Punjab council were held. As a result, nine Hindu members from Suraj Party, three members of the Khilafat Party, and five members of the Hindu Maha Sabha were elected. Besides that six members of the Jat community as a group and 24 Muslim feudal lords, and seven members of the Muslim League were also elected, although they had not contested election as Muslim Leaguers. At the time of the new government’s formation in January 1924, Mian Fazle Hussain formed a new party on a non-communal basis, consisting of 24 Muslim feudals, and six members of the Hindu Jat group. The name of the new party was National Unionist Party.

The Unionist Party dominated the politics of Punjab till 1945 as the Muslim League had failed to gain any significant success in the 1937 elections. Sir Muhammad Zafarullah, who was a close associate of Sir Fazle Hussain, had said that the formation of the Unionist Party was a step in the right direction for Muslim Punjab. Sir Feroze Khan Noon had also paid glowing tribute to Fazle Hussain and his politics and had said that his contribution for democracy was unmatched in Punjab, as the Unionist Party had united Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs.

After the adoption of the Lahore Resolution in 1940 in which the All India Muslim League had demanded Muslim governments in Muslim majority provinces, Muslim League became a popular party while demand for a separate Muslim state became a popular mass movement. The League contested the 1946 elections on the slogan of Pakistan and won all Muslim seats for the central legislature while for provincial assembly the Muslim League captured 75 Muslim seats out of 86. Sir Malik Khizar Hayat Khan was the chief minister at that time. His Unionist Party managed only 11 Muslim seats. However, 84 Akali and Congress members also supported Khizar Hayat, and the Muslim League was kept out of power. Nawab Iftikhar Hussian Khan Mamdot was the parliamentary leader of the Muslim League in the Punjab Assembly. The Khizar cabinet was in power for about a year, and on March 2, 1947, it resigned on the advice of Sir Zafarullah Khan.

The hold of feudals and Nawabs on Punjab politics that had started with Sir Fazle Hussain remained intact even after the emergence of Pakistan till Gen Muhammad Ayub Khan captured power in 1958 through a military coup. Earlier, a bureaucrat of the Indian Finance Service Malik Ghulam Muhammad from Punjab dominated the politics of Pakistan for many years as the Governor-General. In Punjab, a political conflict between Nawab Iftikhar Hussian Mamdot and Mian Mumtaz Ahmad Khan Daultana also divided the Muslim League.

That was not the first division in the party. Earlier, the All India Muslim League had stood divided into two factions in 1928, when Sir Muhammad Shafi, disagreeing with Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s efforts for unity among Hindus and Muslims, formed a Muslim League and declared himself its president, and Dr Muhammad Iqbal was its secretary-general. The two factions were finally reunited by the efforts of Mr Jinnah and some of his close associates in 1931.

In 1962, the Muslim League was once again divided into two factions, when Ayub Khan assumed the presidentship of the party as it was revived after a lapse of four years of martial law. Those who did not attend the party’s revival convention in Karachi said that only its council was authorised to restore the PML. The Ayub faction was called the Convention League while the other was the Council Muslim League. In the meantime, the Council League was further divided when Zahid Sarfraz from Lyallpur (Faisalabad) announced the formation of his own Muslim League because of his differences with Mumtaz Daultana, the president of the Council League. At the time of the 1970 elections, the first on an adult franchise basis after independence, another Muslim League emerged when Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan announced his own faction. Yet another Muslim League emerged during the Zia era when he called for non-party elections after eight years of martial law and nominated Muhammad Khan Junejo as prime minister in a non-party assembly. When Gen Zia sacked the Junejo government and announced non-party elections once again, members of his party from Punjab under the leadership of Mian Nawaz Sharif opted for the non-party system. However, when such elections were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, Mian Nawaz named his supporters as Muslim Leaguers. After Muhammad Khan Junejo died, Mian Nawaz Sharif declared himself the president of the party without taking Junejo loyalists into confidence. Thus a Nawaz League and a Junejo League became two new factions.

Three other factions of the Muslim League emerged from Punjab. Manzoor Wattoo, a Nawaz loyalist, rebelled against him and sided with the PPP. He named his small group as Muslim League. The other faction had come to the forefront during Zia’s regime, when an important Muslim Leaguer, Malik Qasim, refused to support Ziaul Haq and announced the launch of his own Muslim League, which was a part of the MRD, an alliance for the restoration of democracy.

A third and so far the last faction of the Muslim League was created in Punjab in 1999, when Gen Pervez Musharraf dismissed the Nawaz government and arrested him, his close associates, led by Mian Azhar from Lahore, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Ellahi from Gujrat, Begum Abida Hussain and Syed Fakhr Imam from Jhang and Mushahid Hussain, also from Lahore —- all important members of the Nawaz government —- decided to support Gen Musharraf unconditionally and named their group as s Hum Khayal. Later the group, as it enlarged, was called the Muslim League (Quaid-i-Azam). The leaders from Jhang recently defected and joined the People’s Party led by Benazir Bhutto.

In all, the Muslim League since its inception in 1906 has so far been divided into 13 factions over the last hundred years; every time Punjab played a prominent role in the party’s division.

Cancer institute needs help

By Majeed Gill

THE Bahawalpur Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Oncology (BINO) with the completion of its construction over 4.3 acres on Noor Mahal Road became functional in August 1998. Its establishment was aimed at providing diagnostic and treatment facilities to cancer patients in this part of south Punjab.

The hospital was not only rendering services to patients from city and its suburbs, but also to those from upper Sindh and the adjacent areas of Balochistan. It was extending facilities of consultation, diagnosis, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and immuno-therapy to the poor cancer patients. The nuclear medicine, Radio Immuno Assay (RIA) and pathology departments were also operative and were serving to the satisfaction of the people in diagnostic matters.

According to available figures, over 30,000 patients attended the hospital annually while during the last financial year (July 2005 to June 2006), 22,000 patients were provided medical facilities there. The nuclear medicine department is equipped with the latest machinery.

Nuclear diagnostic facilities to patients of bone, brain, thyroid, parathyroid, liver, gall bladder and kidney diseases were extended in September 2000. Chemotherapy, hormone therapy and immuno-therapy for cancer patients was being provided to out-patients. Thyroid-related hormone assay facilities had been available here since March 2003. BINO’s pathology laboratory began working in May 2002 to facilitate the needy cancer patients of the region.

The radiology department was equipped with the latest X-ray (mammography) machine, colour Doppler ultrasound and diagnostic X-ray machine.

The institute on April 9, 2005 established the breast care clinic for the diagnosis and treatment of women’s breast diseases. The department is equipped with the best possible equipment for screening purposes while its clinic has eminent expertise from oncology, surgery, radiology, pathology and nuclear medicine all under one roof to provide maximum care to the patients.

BINO crossed a milestone when it established a 50-bed cancer ward in October 2005 to admit cancer patients for their indoor treatment. The budget of BINO was limited and it could not meet the expenditure of medicine and food of the indoor patients. To achieve this object, Bahawalpur Cancer Society with Sardar Muhammad Husain Khan, former Lahore High Court’s Bahawalpur bench president, and others was established. BACAS collected on a self-help basis Rs900,000 with which cancer patients were being provided free medicines and food while their attendants were given food on subsidised rates. According to BACAS office-bearers, at least 10 cancer patients remain under treatment daily in the ward. The cancer medicines for one patient cost Rs6,000 for one day. Thus 10 patients’ medicines will cost Rs60,000. A cancer patient needs at least 30 to 45 days’ medicine course. It is not an easy task to meet this expenditure. The office-bearers have appealed to the philanthropists to come forward and donate generously to save the life of cancer patients.

In addition, several deserving cancer patients seek financial help for medicines from Zakat fund, but they are not properly treated by the central and district Zakat councils. According to sources, during the visit of the Punjab governor to the institute some time back, the issue was brought into his notice, but to no avail. Besides, Baitul Maal too has failed to help BACAS by sending a substantial amount for the purpose, but its process was also slow and created problems for the deserving patients. Charity organisations should also share the burden of cancer society to provide medicines.

It is worth mentioning that at the moment three IAEA research projects are going on at BINO. One of them “Radiobiological and clinical study on viral-induced cancers response to radiotherapy” is being supervised by BINO director Dr Naeem Ahmad Leghari.



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