Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy (September 8, 1892 - December 5,
1963) was a politician from Bengal in undivided India, and later in East
Bengal, who served as the fifth Prime Minister of
Pakistan from 1956 until 1957.
He was considered a favourite of Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
He is also considered to be the first populist leader in Pakistan's
history. He joined Awami League that Maulana Bashani formed and finally took
over the leadership from the Maulana. Awami League was the first opposition
party in Pakistan
in those days launched against the Muslim League.
Suhrawardy was born on 8 September 1892 to a Muslim family
in the town of Midnapore, now in West Bengal. He was the younger son of Justice Sir Zahid
Suhrawardy, a prominent judge of the Calcutta High Court and of Khujastha
Akhtar Banu (c. 1874–1919) a noted name in Urdu literature and scholar of
Persian. Kujastha was the daughter of Maulana Ubaidullah Al Ubaidi
Suhrawardy and sister of, amongst others, Lt. Col. Dr. Hassan
Suhrawardy, OBE and SirAbdullah Al-Mamun Suhrawardy.
In 1956, he was made Prime Minister by President of
Pakistan Iskander Mirza after the resignation of Chaudhry
Muhammad Ali. Suhrawardy inherited a political schism that was forming in Pakistan
between the Muslim League and newer parties, such as the Republican party.
The schism was fed by the attempt to consolidate the four provinces
of West Pakistan into one province, so as to balance the fact that East Pakistan existed as only one province. The plan was
opposed in West Pakistan, and the cause was
taken up by the Muslim League and religious parties. Suhrawardy supported the
plan, but the vast opposition to it stalled its progress.
In order to divert attention from the controversy over the
"One Unit" plan as it was called, Suhrawardy tried to ease economic
differences between East and West Pakistan.
However, despite his intentions, these initiatives only led to more political
frictions, and were worsened when Suhrawardy tried to give more financial
allocations to East Pakistan than West Pakistan
from aids and grants. Such moves led to a threat of dismissal looming over
Suhrawardy's head, and he resigned in 1957.
His contribution in formulating 1956 constitution of Pakistan was
substantial as he played a vital role in incorporating provisions for civil
liberties and universal adult franchise in line with his adherence to
parliamentary form of liberal democracy.
In the foreign policy arena, he is considered to be one of
the pioneers of Pakistan's
pro-United States stand. He was also the first Pakistani Prime Minister to
visit China and establish an
official diplomatic friendship between Pakistan
and China (a friendship
that Henry Kissingerwould later use to make his now-famous secret trip to China
in July 1971).
Disqualified from politics under the military regime
of Ayub Khan, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy died in Lebanon in
1963. His death was officially due to complications from heart problems, though
some have alleged he was poisoned. After a befitting funeral attended by a huge
crowd, he was buried at Suhrawardy Udyan in Dhaka.
Khayaban-e-Suhrawardy in Islamabad is
named after him.