Thursday, 2 June 2016

Raja Ghazanfar Ali Khan

In my previous post "The Last Assembly", I wrote about the member of the last provincial assembly of the united Punjab. One of the most prominent members of those is Raja Ghazanfar Ali Khan.  Before his winning of the election in 1946 for the Punjab Assembly, he also had won the election of 1937. He was also a minister in the interim government of India. Besides that he was the representative of my native constituency of Pind Dadan Khan.

Raja Ghazanfar Ali Khan was born on 16 August, 1895 in Pind Dadan Khan in district Jhelum. His father was Raja Saif Ali Khan, a Khokhar Rajput. He was interested in politics and his uncle Pir Fazal Shah of Jalapur Sharif, who had a considerable influence and following in the area, helped him in his political career. Pir Fazal Himself was a supporter of Pakistan movement.

He started his education in Pind Dadan Khan and after doing his matriculation from Jhelum he got admission in the Government College Lahore.  But due to his participation in demonstrations against Rowlett Act, he was expelled from the college and returned to his native Pind Dadan Khan.

He started his political career by joining the Unionist Party. He was elected a member of legislative council in 1923. The same year he met Quaid e Azam for the first time and kept a close contact with him for the next 25 years. And on many occasions played an important part in bridging the differences between the Unionist Party and the Muslim League.

Raja Ghazanfar Ali Khan

He was elected to the Punjab Assembly in 1937 on the ticket of All India Muslim League. He was one of the only two members elected on the ticket of Muslim League. But later switched the sides and joined the Unionist Party of Sikandar Hayat. The only other winner was Malik Barkat Ali an advocate from Lahore. So there is no coincidence that Lahore and Pind Dadan Khan are still the stronghold of Muslim League.

However, according to the true traditions of Muslim League, Raja Ghazanfar rejoined Muslim League in 1944. Probably he sensed the change in the direction of winds. He was reelected from the Punjab Assembly Constituency no. 77 of Pind Dadan Khan in the provincial Assembly elections of January, 1946.

By 1946 the realization was fast sinking in the British rulers and Indian masses that the sun of the British Raj is about to set in the East. To manage the affairs of India during this period of retreat of British Raj, the viceroy appointed an interim government based on mostly the nominees of Congress and Muslim League. Raja Ghazanfar Ali Khan was one of the five ministers nominated by Muslim League, in October, 1946. The other four were Liaquat Ali Khan, I. I. Chundrigar, Sardar Abdul Rab Nishar and Jogendra Nath Mandal. He served as the health minister in the interim government.

After the creation of Pakistan he was made minister of rehabilitation, which at the time was a very important task due to the huge crisis of refugees. Though he served only for a year and in 1948 was made ambassador to Iran. Later he also served as ambassador to Turkey, India and Italy.

He died in 1963 and was buried in Pind Dadan Khan, beside the grave of Dadan Khan, the founder of the town with the same name. He was 68 years old.

I visited his tomb on 31 March, 2014, in Pind Dadan Khan, which is just 30 kilometers away from my native town Lilla, in the same tehsil. It is a small beautiful tomb made of marble. The tomb contains two graves, one is that of Raja Ghazanfar Ali Khan and the other one is of Dadan Khan, the founder of this city. A school for blind and deaf has been set up adjoining the tomb. The location of the tomb is  at 32°35'7.72"N , 73° 2'43.73"E.

 Tomb Of Raja Ghazanfar Ali Khan - Pind Dadan Khan

  Tomb Of Raja Ghazanfar Ali Khan - Pind Dadan Khan

 Tomb Of Raja Ghazanfar Ali Khan - Pind Dadan Khan

 Graves Of Raja Ghazanfar Ali Khan (Left) and Raja Dadan Khan.

Pind Dadan is an old city and was an important administrative and commercial centre during the reign of Maharaj Ranjit Singh. It was a big centre of trade for the salt of nearby Khewa mines, which are jsut 7 kilometers away from the town. I feel a lot more can be written about him. I hope the readers will make their contributions to this subject. 

Tariq Amir

June 02, 2016.
Doha - Qatar.