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Liaquat Ali Khan, Nawabzada (1895–1951)

Leader of the Muslim League and first prime minister of Pakistan (1947–1951). Born on 1 October 1895 in Karnal, Punjab, India, Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan attended Aligahr Muslim University in India and then graduated from Oxford University with a law degree in 1921. He was admitted to the British bar the following year and returned to India in 1923, joining the Muslim League in his quest for independence from British rule. In 1924 he helped reorganize the Muslim League and in 1937 was elected as the league's secretary.

Liaquat Ali Khan was elected to India's Council of the United Provinces in 1926 as an independent candidate. He later formed the Democratic Party. In 1940 he was elected to the Central Legislative Assembly as a Muslim League representative. When India was granted independence in 1947, Liaquat Ali Khan gave up his family's extensive property holdings in order to move to Pakistan, which was created in August 1947. He immediately became the new state's first prime minister.

Liaquat Ali Khan governed as a moderate who favored a parliamentary, secular democracy. He maintained a close friendship with Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and in 1950 visited India, where he and Nehru negotiated an agreement on the protection of Indian and Pakistani minorities. The so-called Liaquat-Nehru Pact helped to reduce tensions between Pakistan and India. In April 1951 Liaquat Ali Khan quashed an attempted military coup, popularly known as the Rawalpindi Conspiracy. Seeking to move Pakistani foreign policy closer to the West, he visited the United States in May 1951, although he offended Soviet dictator Josef Stalin by refusing to visit the Soviet Union.

Liaquat Ali Khan was assassinated on 16 October 1951 during a public address in the Municipal Park at Rawalpindi, in West Punjab Province near the Kashmir border. His assassin, an Afghan Muslim fanatic by the name of Syed Azbar Khan, was immediately apprehended and killed by security forces and enraged bystanders.

Andrew J. Waskey


Further Reading
Suleri, Z. A. Quaid-I-Millat Liaquat Ali Khan: Leader and Statesman. Karachi, Pakistan: Oriental Academy, 1970.
 

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