Liaquat Ali Khan (1 October 1896 – 16 October 1951) was a Pakistani politician who became the first Prime Minister of Pakistan, Foreign Affairs & Commonwealth, Kashmir Affairs and Defence Minister. He was also the first Finance Minister of India in the interim government of India prior to independence of both India and Pakistan in 1946. Liaquat rose to political prominence as a member of the All India Muslim League. He played a vital role in the independence of India and Pakistan. In 1947, he became the prime minister of Pakistan. He is regarded as the right-hand man of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the leader of the Muslim League and first governor-general of Pakistan. Liaquat was given the titles of Quaid-e-Millat (Leader of the Nation), and posthumously Shaheed-e-Millat (Martyr of the Nation).
Liaquat was a graduate of Aligarh Muslim University, Oxford University and Middle Temple, London. He rose into prominence within the Muslim League during the 1930s. Significantly, he is credited with persuading Jinnah to return to India, an event which marked the beginning of the Muslim League's ascendancy and paved the way for the Pakistan movement. Following the passage of the Pakistan Resolution in 1940, Liaquat assisted Jinnah in campaigning for the creation of a separate state for Indian Muslims. In 1947, British Raj was divided into the modern-day states of India and Pakistan.
Following independence, India and Pakistan came into conflict over the fate of Kashmir. Khan negotiated extensively with India's then Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and pushed for the referral of the problem to the United Nations. During his tenure, Pakistan pursued close ties with the United Kingdom and the United States. The aftermath of Pakistan's independence also saw internal political unrest and even a foiled military coup against his government. After Jinnah's death, Khan assumed a more influential role in the government and passed the Objectives Resolution, a precursor to the Constitution of Pakistan. He was assassinated in 1951.
Liaquat Ali Khan was born on October 1, 1896 in Karnal, (Haryana)India. His belonged to the Marhal family, who according to some traditions had come from Iran to India approximately 800 years ago during the reign of Muhammad Shahabuddin Ghori.
His father Nawab Rustam Ali Khan possessed the title of Ruken-ud-Daulah, Shamsher Jang and Nawab Bahadur, bestowed by the British government. He was one of the few landlords whose property was spread across both the Punjab and the United Provinces. Liaquat's mother, Mahmoodah Begum, arranged for his lessons in the Qur'an and Ahadith at home before his formal schooling started.
He graduated in 1918 from the Muhammedan Anglo-Oriental College (later Aligarh Muslim University), Aligarh, and married his cousin, Jehangira Begum, in 1918. After the death of his father, Khan went to England and was awarded a Master's degree from Oxford University's Exeter College in 1921. While a student at Oxford, he was elected Honorary Treasurer of the Indian Majlis. Thereafter he joined the Inner Temple, one of the Inns of Court in London. He was called to the Bar in 1922.
On his return from Britain in 1923, Khan entered politics. In his early life, Liaquat believed in Indian nationalism. His views gradually changed. The Congress leaders asked him to join their party, but he refused and joined the Muslim League in 1923. Under the leadership of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Muslim League held its annual session in May 1924 in Lahore. The aim of this session was to revive the League. Khan was among those who attended this conference.
Khan began his parliamentary career as an elected member of the United Provinces Legislative Council from the rural Muslim constituency of Muzzaffarnagar in 1926. In 1932, he was unanimously elected Deputy President of UP Legislative Council. He remained a member of the UP Legislative Council until 1940, when he was elected to the Central Legislative Assembly. He participated actively in legislative affairs. He was one of the members of the Muslim League delegation that attended the National Convention held at Calcutta to discuss the Nehru Reportin December 1928.
Khan's second marriage was in December 1932. His wife, Begum Ra'ana, was a prominent economist and an educator. She, too, was an influential figure in the Pakistan movement
When Muhammad Ali Jinnah returned to India, he started to reorganise the Muslim League. In 1936, the annual session of the All India Muslim league met in Bombay. In the open session on 12 April 1936, Jinnah moved a resolution proposing Khan as the Honorary General Secretary. The resolution was unanimously adopted and he held the office till the establishment of Pakistan in 1947
The Pakistan Resolution was adopted in 1940 at the Lahore session of the Muslim League. The same year elections were held for the central legislative assembly which were contested by Khan from the Barielly constituency. He was elected without contest. When the twenty-eighth session of the League met in Madras on 12 April 1941, Jinnah told party members that the ultimate aim was to obtain Pakistan. In this session, Khan moved a resolution incorporating the objectives of the Pakistan Resolution in the aims and objectives of the Muslim League. The resolution was seconded and passed unanimously
After independence, Khan was appointed the first Prime Minister of Pakistan. Pakistan faced a number of difficulties in its early days. Liaquat and Jinnah were determined to stop the riots and refugee problems and to set up an effective administrative system for the country. Liaquat established the groundwork for Pakistan's foreign policy. He also took steps towards the formulation of the constitution. He presented The Objectives Resolution, a prelude to future constitutions, in the Legislative Assembly. The house passed it on 12 March 1949. It has been described as the "Magna Carta" of Pakistan's constitutional history. Khan called it "the most important occasion in the life of this country, next in importance, only to the achievement of independence". Under his leadership a team also drafted the first report of the Basic Principle Committee and work began on the second report.
On 16 October 1951, Khan was shot twice in the chest during a public meeting of the Muslim City League at Company Bagh (Company Gardens), Rawalpindi. The police immediately shot the assassin who was later identified as Said Akbar. Khan was rushed to a hospital and given a blood transfusion, but he succumbed to his injuries. The exact motive behind the assassination has never been fully revealed. However, Khan was an ardent supporter of independence, which involved absorbing Pushtun land into Pakistan. He did not believe Pushtun land east of the Durand Line deserved to be reunited with Afghanistan after its annexation into British India in 1893. Afghans, as well as the Pushtuns living in the disputed territory, including those of Babraks Zadran tribe, held political animosity toward Liaquat Ali Khan because of this, and he is believed to have killed Khan after he made inflammatory statements about Afghanistan.
Said Akbar was an Afghan national and a professional assassin from Hazara. He was known to police prior to assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan.
Upon his death, Khan was given the honorific title of "Shaheed-e-Millat", or "Martyr of the Nation". He was buried in the same manner (tomb) as Jinnah. The Municipal Park, where he was assassinated, was renamed Liaquat Bagh (Bagh means park) in his honour.