SECOND OPINION: The Liaquat-versus-Jinnah debate —Khaled Ahmed’s Review of the Urdu press
Three recent books rate Liaquat as the most attractive man in the Muslim League in terms of character. They also completely reject the charge that he was mean to the Quaid. The debate was started by Sharifuddin Pirzada and many people have since contributed to it. A lot of ‘evidence’ has further appeared pointing to a rift in the Muslim League’s top leadership
Was the prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, hostile to his party boss, the Quaid? More and more evidence emerging in the press suggests that there was something wrong between the two. During the Year of Fatima Jinnah (2003), evidence was once again unearthed about her possible murder. If there are two sides to the issue, both of them cannot be ignored because of the weight of the personalities who back them.
Speaking to daily Pakistan (April 10, 2005) magazine, distinguished lawyer MA Rehman stated that Col Ilahi Baksh was the personal physician of Jinnah when the latter was recuperating in Balochistan. Humayun, a son of Col Baksh, later married a daughter of Aslam Khatak. Humayun told Rehman that once when the prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, had just come out after talking to the Quaid in his room, Col Ilahi Baksh went in immediately afterwards. Liaquat was suspicious and asked him later why he had gone in. He replied that time for administering the next dose of medicine to the Quaid was running out, so he had to run in. But Liaquat was too suspicious. He later warned him that if he talked about the incident he would be punished. When Col Ilahi Baksh wrote his book on the Quaid, Liaquat disallowed it. Later, he allowed it — with cuts — when Fatima Jinnah went public about the ban. Humayun said he had the uncut version but he had to leave Pakistan before he could show it to Rehman. After Col Baksh went in to give the Quaid his medicine, the Quaid refused, saying: “I want to die”. Rehman stated that Liaquat Ali Khan had probably asked him if he could get him taken off the governor-generalship through a reference to the Queen in London?
Three books have come out recently debunking the charge that Liaquat hated Jinnah. Dear Mr Jinnah: Selected Correspondence and speeches of Liaquat Ali Khan, 1937-1947; edited by Roger D Long; OUP, Karachi; Liaquat Ali Khan: His life and work by Muhammad Reza Kazimi; OUP, Karachi; and Jinnah-Liaquat Correspondence; edited by Muhammed Reza Kazimi; Pakistan Study Centre, University of Karachi. All three rate Liaquat as the most attractive man in the Muslim League in terms of competence and character. They also completely reject the charge that he was mean to the Quaid. The debate was started by Sharifuddin Pirzada in the 1970s and many people have since contributed to it. Further, a lot of ‘evidence’ has appeared pointing to a rift in the Muslim League top leadership. But most of it has shown Liaquat in a bad light, carefully sparing the other pole of the issue, Jinnah, from critical scrutiny. Yet, separately, Liaquat and Jinnah are accepted as men of sterling qualities. AG Noorani of India tries to point to the flaws of both, claiming that Liaquat was more realistic on Hyderabad Deccan where Jinnah bought some stocks in March 1947.
Writing in Khabrain, (April 13, 2005) Shaukat Hussain Shaukat stated that in the 1950s the best Punjab politician was Nawab Iftikhar Khan Mamdot who was a true follower of the Quaid. Mumtaz Daultana was his rival. Both were feudal and became chief ministers but Mamdot was a large-hearted person who gave generously and never ate alone. On the other hand Daultana was kanjoos (skinflint) and spent only when his wife insisted. But when Mamdot died no one came to his funeral. A police officer made the constables of his thana take off their uniforms, wear the civvies and take part in his funeral as mourners to make it look good.
Why did Daultana get Bhutto to send him as a diplomat to Europe so that he could get his health looked after on the state’s money? He was a rich man; he could afford the expense. Daultana will remain an enigma. Despite his spoiler’s character there was never a dearth of his admirers. Pakistan’s political nihilism has its great imam in Daultana.
Famous lawyer MA Rehman told daily Pakistan (April 10, 2005) that Chaudhry Zahur Elahi was a close friend of Justice Maulvi Mushtaq who had sentenced Bhutto to death. After Bhutto’s death he knew that Al Zulfikar was targeting him. He took MA Rehman in his car to go and see Maulvi Mushtaq. After that they decided to go to condole someone’s father’s death. On the way back, their car was attacked. First the tyre was flattened with a bullet. After that two grenades were thrown. One burst and killed the driver while its shrapnel entered the brain of Chaudhry Zahur Elahi who had insisted on sitting in the front seat. Maulvi Mushtaq too was hurt but Chaudhry Zahur Elahi died of his wound. Bullets too were fired at them from a car.
The death of Chaudhry Zahir Elahi was to become a factor in the history of Pakistan the same way as the death of Bhutto. Maulavi Mushtaq was an idiosyncratic judge who revenged himself on Bhutto by sentencing him to death. The terrorists had targeted him but killed Chaudhry Zahur Elahi instead.
Writing in daily Pakistan, (April 15, 2005) Tanvir Qaiser Shahid stated that British Islamist Umar Bakri had been in jail for his verbal aggression. He was originally a Syrian who had run away from Hafez Al Assad and got the British nationality. He took out a journal in London named Khilafah in which he abused the Quaid-e-Azam while advancing the cause of the banned-in-Pakistan organisation Hizb al Tahrir which was ‘exported’ to Pakistan from the UK. Umar Bakri’s fiery speeches were identical with Egyptian Umar Abdur Rehman who was in jail in the US for his role in a 1993 attempt to blow up the World Trade Centre in New York. In Pakistan, Dr Israr was in favour of Hizb al Tahrir and wanted khilafat to replace democracy and was at times insulting to the Quaid-e-Azam. In Qaumi Digest (April 2005) he had said that Islam could not be enforced in Pakistan because of Jinnah.
Dr Israr is perhaps the most impressive teacher of the Quran living today. But his views are inflexible and his literalism is dangerous for society because of the upheavals his reform suggests. Bakri is dangerous too. Hizb al Tahrir says Bakri has nothing to do with it and that Khilafah which abused the Quaid is an organ of Hizb and has nothing to do with Bakri. Had the Pakistani prosecutor shown the copy of Khilafah abusing the Quaid to the Lahore High Court the Hizb would not have been let off.
Quoted in Khabrain (April 16, 2005) Sui Northern Gas Pipeline chairman General (retd) Ghulam Safdar Butt said that the plan to import gas from Turkmenistan was not feasible because of the trouble in Afghanistan, but Pakistan would go ahead with the Iranian pipeline project from which Pakistan would get $150 million annually as royalty if India joined it. He said it was wrong to say that royalty from this pipeline to Pakistan would be $500 million or more. He said the Qatar gas project, too, was not feasible because of the difficulty of maintaining undersea pipelines.
General Butt’s opinion cannot be waved aside. The only feasible pipeline is that from Iran. But if Iran gets into trouble with the UN Security Council on its nuclear programme, then this pipeline, too, would be pushed back in time. *