LIAQUAT Ali Khan was missed more than ever on his death anniversary (Oct 16) in these testing times when Pakistan faces political and economic instability and plethora of chronic issues.

Like Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Liaquat Ali Khan never joined the Indian National Congress. He strongly believed in the two-nation theory, and played a significant role in convincing Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah to return to India and lead the Muslims.

He was a selfless leader. Pakistan’s celebrated diplomat Jamsheed Marker once recalled (Nov 13, 2011) that a bureaucrat entered the prime minister’s room with a file and requested him to sign it. The file was about the properties that Liaquat Ali Khan had left in India.

The bureaucrat told him that in exchange of all of that, he could get a decent number of properties in Pakistan. This infuriated Liaquat Ali Khan and he threw the file away. He ordered the bureaucrat to pay a visit to the city and take a look at the condition of the refugees there. “Once you have resettled the last of them, only then you bring this file to me,” was how Liaquat Ali Khan reacted. Marker further stated that Liaquat Ali Khan was a nawab, yet he sacrificed for Pakistan everything that he had.

We cannot compare the divisions that exist in our society today with the Muslim sentiment that prevailed in the formative phase of Pakistan. Back in the day, Liaquat Ali Khan could have easily won the election from wherever he had contested.

His achievements on the diplomatic front will be remembered. He selected unique persons for Pakistan’s missions abroad. Sohaib Qureshi was posted as Pakistan’s ambassador to Moscow. He was respected for his courageous struggle against imperialism and colonialism. Prof Ahmad Ali was posted in Beijing as Pakistan’s Charge D’ Affairs because he had served as a visiting professor in China from 1946 to 1948.

It was during his tenure that the United Nations gave Kashmiris the right to self-determination and the methodology of plebiscite for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The progress on the preparation of the plebiscite was going on when he was assassinated.

In fact, the Indian leadership could not even raise a murmur about delaying the referendum in his presence. He maintained a foreign policy of non-alliance despite many odds and persuasions.

Pakistan, under Liaquat Ali Khan, recognised the People’s Republic of China. He courageously worked for decolonisation and supported the struggle for independence of the Muslim nations and the developing countries from imperialism.

He opposed the creation of Israel and its entry to the United Nations. He signed the Liaquat-Nehru Pact for the protection of minorities in Pakistan and India. He presented the Objectives Resolution in the Constituent Assembly and set the direction of the state. This is also a complete chapter of human rights which depicts the vision of the Quaid and the aspiration of the Muslims of the subcontinent in the form of legislation. Leftist politician Mian lftikharuddin and religious scholar Allama Shabbir Ahmad Usmani supported the resolution alike.

The veteran leader and the first president of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Sardar Ibrahim Khan had asked the new government to follow the Kashmir policy of Liaquat Ali Khan which meant that the Kashmiri leadership considered his policy in their own interest.

In fact, the politicians and theocrats who did not like Jinnah’s leadership, or the objectives of the Pakistan movement, could not open their mouth against the father of the nation, but would always criticise Liaquat Ali Khan. The disinformation campaign against him was started to oust him from power or eliminate him physically. Alas, we do not have political leaders of Liaquat Ali Khan’s calibre today.

Mahfoozun Nabi Khan
Karachi

Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2021

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