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Remembering Liaqat Ali Khan

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Remembering Liaquat Ali Khan: Pakistan’s greatest prime minister

Sunday, October 21, 2007

By Kaleem Omar

KARACHI: This week marked Liaquat Ali Khanís 56th death anniversary. He was gunned down by a hired assassin on October 16, 1951 while addressing a public meeting in Rawalpindi. Coming only three years after the death of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Liaquatís death was a grievous blow to the fledgling new nation of Pakistan ñ a blow from which this country has, in some ways, still not recovered.

Over the years, we have got so used to being ruled by military dictators and sleazy politicians that many of us seem to have forgotten the values of integrity and commitment to democracy that leaders like the Quaid and Liaquat stood for.

Asked once what the constitution of the new state of Pakistan would be, the Quaid replied: ìThe constitution of Pakistan will be what the people of Pakistan want it to be.î That vision was shared by Liaquat Ali Khan.

A nawabzada by birth, Liaquat was a man of the people by temperament ñ a leader who never stood on protocol and one whose door was always open to ordinary Pakistanis. Not only was Liaquat Pakistanís first prime minister (from August 14, 1947 to October 16, 1951), he was also the greatest prime minister this country has ever had. A man of the highest integrity and sincerity of purpose, he was utterly committed to Pakistanís cause and died with its name on his lips, saying ìGod protect Pakistanî as he fell.

That is why his memory continues to be revered by the Pakistani people to this day, despite the fact that successive governments in recent years have failed to commemorate his death anniversary in a befitting manner.

October 16 has not been a national holiday since the early 1980s, when the Zia-ul-Haq martial law regime launched an insidious campaign to try to make the Pakistani people forget Liaquat. But then, even Mr Jinnahís death anniversary, September 11, is not a national holiday anymore.

Since Ziaís days, this countryís heads of government have even abandoned the practice of issuing formal statements on Liaquatís death anniversary. In 2001, for example, no government functionary, neither at the federal level nor at the provincial level, saw fit to issue a statement on the occasion, even though that year marked the 50th anniversary of Liaquatís assassination. The same thing happened this year.

But great leaders live in the hearts of the people, and no amount of governmental apathy or neglect can erase Liaquatís memory from the hearts and minds of the Pakistani people.

Only a few months ago a new private school named after Liaquat opened its doors to students in a Karachi neighbourhood, adding to the ever growing list of schools, colleges and hospitals across the country that are named after Liaquat. Such gestures are symbolic of the very high regard and affection in which the Pakistani people hold Liaquatís memory.

Like Mr Jinnah, the revered founder of this country, Liaquat Ali Khan — the Quaidís trusted lieutenant and right-hand man — was a colossus. Sad to say, most of the leaders that came after them have been pygmies.

In 2001 press reports said the government had at last decided to build a memorial to Liaquat at Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi, where he was gunned down on that tragic October day in 1951. Reports said the government intended to invite architects from across the country to submit designs for the memorial and was in the process of constituting a committee of prominent citizens to act as judges to choose the best design.

So, what became of that scheme? Six years later, not only has the memorial not yet been built, there is no news of when, if ever, it is likely to be built.

Mr Jinnah spelled out his vision for the new nation of Pakistan in his famous address to the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947. Some three years later, Liaquat Ali Khan, too, spoke eloquently about the aims of the new nation of Pakistan.

Addressing the United States Senate on May 4, 1950 during a state visit to that country at the invitation of then-US President Harry S. Truman, Liaquat said: ìIn the geography of the world, Pakistanís name is not yet three years old. What led to the emergence of this new state on the map of the world is perhaps not universally known. Nor do I expect it yet to be common knowledge what urges stir and inspire us in the task that we know lies ahead of us.î

Pakistan, he said, ìwas founded by the indomitable will of a hundred million Muslims who felt that they were a nation too numerous and too distinct to be relegated forever to the unalterable position of a political minorityÖLike some of the founders of your great country, these Muslims, though not Pilgrims (Americaís 17th-century Pilgrim settlers), nevertheless embarked upon an undertaking which, in aim and achievement, represented the triumph of an idea. That idea was the idea of liberty, which has had its ardent followers in all climates and all countries. When our time came, its call summoned us tooÖî

Dilating upon his theme, Liaquat said: ìBut this, we realise, is only the beginning of a new life. The achievement of freedom is not an instantaneous event; it is a process. The seed is planted, but before the tree can take root and grow and spread it has to be nurtured untiringly by innumerable hands. Our Constitution is yet on the anvil and elected representatives of the people are engaged in making it a true mirror of our live beliefs and our sincere aspirationsÖTime-honoured maxims and hallowed principles embodied in a constitution are of little validity, unless a nation feels that it possesses the spiritual strength to live up to them, unless they echo the voice that is heard unfalteringly in the innermost recesses of its soul. We have earnestly searched our hearts, and though much yet remains to be done, the main features of our Constitution to which we can put our seal with a conscience free of all restraints, doubts or qualms, are to us unequivocally clear.î

And what were those features? Liaquat explained them thus: ìWe have pledged ourselves a federation with autonomous units, wherein shall be guaranteed fundamental human rights, equality of status and opportunity, and before law, social, economic and political justice, freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship and associationÖWe have pledged that the state shall exercise its powers and authority through the chosen representatives of the people. In this we have kept steadily before us the principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice as enunciated by Islam. There is no room for theocracy, for Islam stands for freedom of conscience, condemns coercion, has no priesthood and abhors the caste system. It believes in the equality of all men and in the right of each individual to enjoy the fruit of his or her effort, enterprise, capacity and skill ñ provided these be honestly employed.î

Speaking of Pakistanís place in the world, Liaquat said: ìIn our short life as a free nation, we have learned not a little about the world and the times we live in and about ourselves. We have learned that freedom, whether of the individual or of countries, is not everywhere and at all times safe and that the integrity of our own homeland which is dearer to us than our lives will demand of us unceasing vigilance.î

Liaquat concluded his address with these words: ìOur people are deeply distressed at the thought that world-wide destruction might overtake not only the fuller life to which they aspire but the entire human civilisation with all its magnificent achievements and illimitable opportunities for good. For youthful countries like ours, which are experiencing but the first pulsations of a free existence, this prospect is profoundly disturbing and not without a touch of irony. We sincerely hope that leaders of world opinion will pursue the path of understanding and will use their wisdom and power to dispel and not to enhance the fears of an apprehensive world. Though freedom has had many births, greed, aggression and intolerance continue, alas, to rear their ugly heads. This is the century of great awakenings in all parts of the globe; and it depends entirely on the leaders of the world whether mankind will awaken to the horrors of darkness or to a glorious dawn.î

Wise words, indeed, and words, moreover, that people around the world would do well to remember in these perilous times when the most powerful nation in the world, the United States, has taken it upon itself to invade and occupy, first, Afghanistan and then Iraq, and is now threatening military action against Iran.

Liaquatís address to the US Senate should be made required reading for the likes of US President George W. Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney and other members of Washingtonís hawkish, neoconservative cabal.

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Salaam Bros

Should also be required reading for our representatives not that it will have much impact on them.

Ws

Suleman Ahmed

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Ofcourse that speech was written by Patras Bukhari and not Liaqat Ali Khan. You may find it in Kuliyat-e Patras

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Salaam

 

 

I saw a very interesting picture of Jimmy Stewart and Liaqat Ali Khan thought I'd share:

 

10384200_10152626574849654_9526121653700

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They should rename Islamabads airport from the existing and quite undeserving name of Benazir Bhutto International Airport to Liquat Ali Khan International Airport.

Gaf, Nasr, Shah Khan and 1 other like this

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They should rename Islamabads airport from the existing and quite undeserving name of Benazir Bhutto International Airport to Liquat Ali Khan International Airport.

Hope someone starts the online petition for renaming it. 

Fahad L likes this

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I remember being in Lahore and being allowed with guard inside the tomb of mr Liaqat Ali Khan. I actually touched it. It is a shame we have BB airport but not LAK airport. I rather sell my soul then accept the reality we have in Pakistan. What did BB achieve? Nothing.

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I remember being in Lahore and being allowed with guard inside the tomb of mr Liaqat Ali Khan. I actually touched it. It is a shame we have BB airport but not LAK airport. I rather sell my soul then accept the reality we have in Pakistan. What did BB achieve? Nothing.

 

 

:o ??????  As far as I remember Liaquat Ali Khan is buried at the Mazar of Quaid in Karachi

Munir and Fahad L like this

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I feel dumb... I am honored to be corrected.

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