Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan has been the most influential politician in Pakistan’s history. In 1943, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah called him “my right hand”. He is widely known as Quaid-Millat and Shaheed-e-Millat after leading founding fathers of Pakistan, statesman, lawyer and political theorist who became and served as the first Prime Minister of Pakistan.
A loyal supporter of Jinnah since 1928, he was appointed by the Quaid as general-secretary of the All-India Muslim League in 1936. He had acquired a considerable amount of experience as a legislator in the United Provinces since 1927 and, since 1941, in the Central Legislative Assembly where he was Jinnah’s deputy. He was also finance member in the interim government of the still-united India between 1946 and 1947.
Jinnah appointed him as Pakistan’s first prime minister. He handled the Pakistan situation with great skill and distinction for four years until he was assassinated on October 16, 1951.
Lord Wavell, the British viceroy of India, says that Liaquat Ali Khan, was an administrator, a person of intellect, character and common sense.
Liaquat Ali Khan’s task was harder and more taxing than either Truman’s or Attlee’s and he should be ranked with them.
Pakistan in 1947 had nothing. A state had to be created from scratch at a time when people predicted that it would collapse like a tent. It was Liaquat Ali Khan’s great historical achievement for those four years after independence and no one was expecting Pakistan to collapse. Liaquat Ali Khan was its architect. Liaquat Ali Khan refused to accept Kashmir as part of India and spent a considerable amount of time and effort over a number of meetings in India, London and in Pakistan trying to reverse its status.
His stance on Kashmir has been followed by every Pakistani leader. It has always been Pakistan’s major foreign policy aim to make all of Kashmir Pakistan’s.
Pakistan’s foreign policy was is its alliance with the United States and the West. Pakistan had little choice. In 1947, the Soviet Union could offer very little financial support to its allies. It was derailing its East European allies of their assets to build up Soviet industries. The godless communism was unacceptable to most Pakistanis and had Pakistan done so it would have been isolated diplomatically by the West.
United States and Great Britain and countries of the British Commonwealth were able to provide the economic and diplomatic assistance Pakistan requested.
Pakistan was member of the Baghdad Pact between 1955 and 1979 and a frontline state in the war in Afghanistan after 1979. Pakistan’s foreign policy is its relationship with Muslim states in the Middle East.
Liaquat Ali Khan sought good relations with all Muslim countries including Iran, which was the first country in the world to recognize Pakistan. He welcomed the Shah of Iran to Pakistan in March 1950 as the first foreign head of state to visit the country.
Pakistan has also followed the path set for it by Liaquat Ali Khan with regard to its form of government. He had always been committed to democracy and sought to make Pakistan a parliamentary system in line with the Westminster model in Great Britain. He recognized and honored the sensibilities of Pakistan’s Muslim inhabitants. This he did through the passage of the Objectives Resolution on March 12, 1949, envisioning a constitution that mandated a parliamentary system but also paid heed to the Islamic tenets.
Liaquat Ali Khan was educated at Aligarh. He was a devoted follower of its founder, Sayyid Ahmad Khan, and his modernist philosophy of integrating Western and modernist Islamic learning. He, fully supported women’s education as well as the activities of his second wife, the dynamic and remarkable Ra’ana Liaquat Ali Khan, who founded the All Pakistan Women’s Association in 1949. From the creation of a modern military and educational system to the establishment of a civil service, a state bank and an entire economy, Liaquat Ali Khan was at the centre of all these activities and the inspiration for many of them.
He believed he could go on to write a constitution, establish a sound democratic system and create a dynamic Muslim League party as its president, besides being able to institute respect for all sects, creeds and viewpoints. Liaquat Ali Khan, the first prime minister of Pakistan, was really the unsung hero of Pakistan’s history, said Roger D. Long, who is currently writing a book on Khan. If he would have lived for 10 more years, he could have given Pakistan a constitution and general elections.
Khan was a Nawab, a distinguished person. But he was a reserved person who was slightly shy. It was former British Viceroy Wavell who recalled Khan. “It is good to talk to him about literature and just about everything!” Long quoted Wavell as saying.