Legacy of Liaquat Ali Khan: Food for thought for nation
OCTOBER 16, 1951 Company Bagh Rawalpindi. Liaquat Ali Khan the first Prime Minister of Pakistan and the closest confidant and right hand man of the father of the nation stood up on the stage to make a speech in the public gathering organized by the Pakistan Muslim League Rawalpindi.
Before him was a massive crowd of over one hundred thousand Pakistanis attentive and listening in rapt attention to their beloved leader. He started with his opening words of “Bradiran-i-Millat” and immediately two shots were fired.
Liaquat Ali collapsed on the stage and immediately a third shot was heard that ended the life of the assassin identified as Said Akbar. Liaquat Ali died with his boots on in service of the nation and the country he had helped create.
Seventy-four years later we now witness something so sad and tragic that it should be food for thought for the entire nation.
Dure Liaquat Ali Khan, daughter-in-law of Liaquat Ali Khan and wife of the only surviving son of Liaquat Ali Khan and Begum Rana Liaquat Ali, Akbar Liaquat Ali Khan writes a letter to the Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah about the tragic and deteriorating health conditions of her husband for the last three years. In this letter she mentioned that her husband is on dialysis and has to go three times a week.
The monthly cost of this procedure is over one hundred thousand rupees, and monthly tests, medication, injections and doctors’ visits are an additional expense. She then mentions that two hospital stays within the past year has cost them over one million rupees.
And she goes on to say “I am writing to you with the hope that you will be able to provide some relief to my husband in his time of need, whose parents gave their lives and wealth in service to this country,” she wrote in the letter.
In this country where we are witness to dynastic politics and our rulers rolling in money and wealth collected during their rule and show of immense wealth and properties all over the world, and even their grand children born into immense wealth and riches this letter is definitely food for thought and something to be ashamed of that the only son of our first Prime Minister has to ask for help for his medical treatment.
In this day and age our rulers and their families fly to Europe and America for even minor ailments and Akbar Liaquat Ali whose father was not only the Prime Minister but also one of the richest Zamindars of undivided India needs help for his medical needs.
This anguished cry for help is from the son of one of the founding fathers of this country. This man worked tirelessly for the freedom of this nation, sacrificed everything he had and ultimately made the supreme sacrifice in the service of this country.
Liaquat Ali Khan, the first Prime Minister of Pakistan, was the closest associate and confidant of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah in the struggle for Pakistan.
He was born with a golden spoon in his mouth in an immensely wealthy Nawab family of the Punjab and the United Provinces and he himself owned 300 villages. 60 in the Punjab and 240 in Muzaffarnaggar UP. He was educated at the Muslim University in Aligarh and then Oxford University in England. He was born on 1st October 1895.
His father Nawab Rustam Ali Khan was one of the biggest landlords of Punjab and UP. He was admitted to Aligarh University in 1913 and graduated in 1918 in Political Science and LL.B He proceeded to England for higher education at Exeter College Oxford University where he earned a masters-in-law and justice in 1921and was called to the bar by Inner Temple in 1922.
On his return to India he started his law practice as an advocate of the Lahore High Court and went on to become one of the highest paid lawyers in India.
He entered Politics in 1923 by joining the All India Muslim League and was elected to the UP legislative assembly in 1926 and hereafter he was continually elected to the UP Legislative Assembly till 1947 when he was elected as a member of the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan and subsequently the leader of the House and the first Prime Minister of Pakistan.
After the death of Quaid-i-Azam Liaquat proved to be a pillar of strength and continued his selfless efforts for the country. His wife Rana Liaquat Ali, after his death served as Ambassador to Holland and then Governor of Sindh.
This family has given everything they had to this country and there is no doubt that both husband and wife were scrupulously honest and clean, they did not make a fortune in properties and bank balances.
It is a fact of history that Liaquat Ali did not even own a house of his own anywhere in Pakistan.
This nation owes him a debt of gratitude that can never be paid. We can at least do something to provide relief to his only surviving son.
—The writer is Professor of History, based in Islamabad.