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Quaid-e-Azam at Islamia College Peshawar 

800px-Prof._Dr._Taskeen_Ahmad_Khan_(QEA-02)_jpg. 

The Historic Group Photograph of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah at his Last Visit to Islamia College, Peshawar, N-WFP, Pakistan (12.04.1948 CE) (Courtesy of Prof. Dr. Taskeen Ahmad Khan, Associate Dean, Associate Faculty of Urology, Khyber Medical University, Peshawar (nb: From the Personal Library File of Maj. Gen (Retd.) Anwar Sher Khan, Peshawar).

by Mohammad Anwar Khan

The Government of India Act 1935, though considered “fundamentally bad”1 by the Muslim leaders, was a significant step, as the future constitutional framework of India was based upon it. Elections to the provincial assemblies were announced for the fall 1936-37 and the Muslim League in the 24th session, in Bombay, on the 12th of April 1936, resolved to contest the provincial assemblies elections and authorised the Quaid to organise elections boards at the central and the provincial level and also devise “ways and means” for contesting the forthcoming election.2 The Quaid, accordingly, invited a large number of influential Muslim leaders all over India for a meeting by the end of April 1936 at Delhi and also went to Lahore for consultation with the leaders of Punjab. He addressed letters for this meeting to a large number of the Muslim leaders from the NWFP, notable amongst them were Pir Bakhsh,3 Malik Khuda Bakhsh.4 No one from the Frontier attended this meeting. Pir Bakhsh did not acknowledge it. The Quaid met later Malik Khuda Bakhsh and Rahim Bakhsh Ghaznavi at Lahore at the residence of Mian Abdul Aziz.5

The Frontier was given representation in the Central Parliamentary Board. Pir Bakhsh, Malik Khuda Bakhsh, Allah Bakhsh Yousufi and Abdul Rahim (Rahim Bakhsh) Ghaznavi were appointed as members of the board from the Frontier. The Quaid was very keen at this time to learn more about the Frontier. It was a Muslim majority area. He had also fought for its provincial status. His knowledge of the Frontier was not upto date: this is discernible from his correspondence with Pir Bakhsh6 on September 13, 1936 and that with Abdul Ghafoor, Allah Bakhsh Yousufi and few others.7 He wanted to know more as he intended visiting Peshawar.8 The Quaid for the most part depended upon Pir Bakhsh with whom he had developed acquaintance since 1931.9 None would tell him the details. Malik Khuda Bakhsh rather has asked him in April to visit Peshawar10 and to see things for himself. In October he decided to tour Punjab and Frontier, and he accordingly wrote to the Frontier leaders including Sahibzada Abdul-Qayum11 whom he knew as member of the Imperial Legislative Council a dna colleague at the Round Table Conference, supporting the cause of Indian Musalmans in general and that of Frontier in particular. Sahibzada being attached to government agency, asked one of his Lieutenant Agha Lal Badshah, who had worked under him in the British Political service in Waziristan to extend a formal invitation to the Quaid on behalf of the Muslims of the NWFP.12 He also asked Pir Bakhsh to assist Lal Badshah in which a number of Muslim Peshawari leaders participated, a resolution was drafted requesting the Quaid to visit Peshawar. It was written by Pir Bakhsh and Sufi Abdul Aziz Khushbash “an energetic national worker of Peshawar city” as Pir Bakhsh introduced him in his letter to the Quaid, was deputed to deliver this invitation to the Quaid at Lahore.13

Abdul Aziz Khushbash,14 in his interview with the author stated that his travel expenses were borne by Syed Lal Badshah. The Quaid was staying at the Faletti’s Hotel. A room was provided for him too. He stayed for two days at Lahore and then accompanied him to Peshawar by evening Bombay mail. He sent telegram on the 17th of October 1936 prior to their departure to Syed Lal Badshsh intimating the time and day of their arrival in Peshawar. Both reached Peshawar next morning. Nawab Mamdot, saw the Quaid off at the Lahore railway station.15

The Quaid arrived in Peshawar on Sunday, the 18th of October 1936.16 Bombay express reached the City station at about 8 AM. About 400 persons welcomed him at the station.17 Secret police report tells us presence of prominent persons amongst them like Sahibzada Qayum, Ghulam Samdani, Pir Bakhsh, Lal Badshsh, Chan Badshah, Mohammad Usman Naswari, Rahim Bakhsh, Ataullah and Abdul Hye.18 It also records presence of about thirty Khaksars and 78 boyscouts. The Quaid was greeted and garlanded.19 He shook hands with all those in the front.20 He was dressed meticulously western, wearing top hat, long coat, beneath it a well cut suit with English shoes, took aback many credulous Peshawaris, dubbed by one as an Englishman.21 The Quaid was taken in procession, in a convertible grey car provided by Sahibzada Qayum. The station receptionists were later joined by the public, and the procession including volunteers, a Rover’s batch of Islamia College,22 students from Edwardes’ College, left for the city through a pre-planned route. The Quaid was driven slowly, seated by him were Pir Bakhsh, Lal Badshah in the back seat and perhaps Hakim Jalil in the front seat as gleaned through a photograph taken on the occasion. The procession entered the city through Hashtnagri, Karimpura bazaar, to the Ghanta Ghar, then through Chowk Yadgar, the party proceeded via Phurgaran towards Yakatut and terminated at the residence of Sahibzada Qayum, which had been furnished for the Quaid’s stay.23 Mr. Ayub Khattak then a second year student of Islamia College and incharge Rover’s group recollects that flowers were showered at the procession from a balakhana near Ghanta Ghar, and a handful of sweet (shakarpara) was pelted over the motorcar from the Sufi sweet house (still situated in Ghantaghar at the entrance to Karimpura) one ball hitting the Quaid at the right eyebrow, which gave reddish look for a quite a while. It all took about two hours to reach Mundiberi. Here the Quaid thanked all, especially the student community and promised to meet them later during his stay at Peshawar.24

The Quaid stayed for a week from 18th of October to the 24th at the Mundiberi residence of Sahibzada Qayum.

The first day in Peshawar was spent quietly. There is no day record maintained by one, of this event. The news media was not much alive to it. The Khyber Mail, then a weekly, has only given a three line account of the arrival and a column on the departure. The Frontier Advocate and the Sarhadi Samachar both Hindu papers, on which I could not lay hand, are reported not to pay much heed to the visit. Al-Jamiat’s file for 1936 is not maintained and also those of Islahe Sarhad are not traceable. The story therefore is based on a few secret police reports and recollections of men connected with this event. Some exaggerated versions of this visit have lately appeared.

The Quaid was visiting at this time in his individual capacity. The public was least conscious of his mission less to talk of the Muslim League. An educated frontierman had heard about him as supporter of the Frontier cause in the Legislative Council and at the Round Table Conference. His Fourteen Points, which inter alia had urged for reforms in the Frontier, has aroused liking for him. His struggle for the Muslim cause, was penetrating the Frontier though slow, but steadily. The students of Islamia College invited him in May 1936 to preside over the Prophet’s day function.25 This he could not attend, but he sent message26 for the occasion. The Khyber Mail in its weekly political and educational columns was portraying both literary and political efforts of the Indian Muslim leaders and the Quaid and Iqbal found place in them. The Frontier politics had been completely overshadowed by the Khudai Khidmatgar (redshirt) movement, which had affiliated itself with the Indian National Congress. It was a movement that had deep roots in the rural areas and its leader, Abdul Ghaffar Khan, had emerged as a socio-political saviour and his arrest had caused political restlessness in the area.27 Coinciding it the approaching provincial elections had produced hectic political life. Redshirt election campaign offices were opened all over the province. District parliamentary boards, were set up during the middle of 1936. Meetings were organised and the public made conscious of their rights. Dr. Khan, Abdul Qayum Khan, Qasim Shah Mian, Ghulam Rabbani, Ghulam Mohammad Lundkhwar, Mehar Chand Khanna, Dr. C.C. Ghosh, Ashiq Bad Shah, Mian Samin Jan, Kamdar Khan and others were daily reported addressing meetings in the length and breadth of the province. The government had to resort to arrests in certain cases, which further made their cause popular. August 21, was observed as Ghaffar Khan Day all over the province.28 The Socialist Party of Peshawar joined hands with the Redshirt.29 There were, in fact, only two parties in the Frontier, the government and the Redshirt, as claimed by the Congress leadership. The others were all disarrayed. Non-Congressite Muslims would hold inconclusive periodic meetings, and one like it was held on August 25-26th at Abbottabad to prepare the election manifesto and devise means for the forthcoming elections,30 but personal rivalry marred unanimous stand. The Muslim Azad Party, was split up into Nishtar and Pir Bakhsh group. Khaksars and Ahrars were mostly ineffective.

The political situations, therefore in October 1936, in the Frontier province was quite blurred. The Quaid was to analyse it properly. He, therefore, in the first instance met the Redshirt leaders, at about 6 p.m. on the first day of his arrival. The secret police reports Ghulam Mohammad Lundkhwar, Abdul Qayyum Khan, Qaim Shah Mian and Dr. C.C. Ghosh, calling on the Quaid on that evening. They discussed the affairs in general with him.31 The visitors formed part of the city parliamentary board. The Quaid persuaded them to wind up this board. To this they did not agree.32 He asked Qayyum Khan according to the secret police, report, to join the Muslim League. Qayyum later reported to Dr. Khan that he refused it.33

Next day, that is the 19th of October, the Quaid addressed the students of Edwardes College during the forenoon hours. There is no authentic information on this visit. The police secret reports mention of a gathering of about 200 students in College hall, in which, the Quaid explained the object of his visit to Peshawar. He appreciated political awakening in the Frontier and hoped that it would play an important role in the future constitution of the country.34

The same evening at about 4 p.m. the Quaid addressed the public of Peshawar at Shahibagh under the auspices of Muslim Azad Party. The news for this meeting had been customarily heralded in the city. Agha Lal Badshah presided over the meeting and Pir Bakhsh acted as the stage secretary. Sources vary on the number of audience.35 Police report indicates presence of about one thousand persons. Khushbash puts this number to 4000. Malik Shad estimates between two thousand to two and a half thousand (Professor) Jalalud Din Khilji, (ex-Principal Islamia College) then a Youngman of about 25, who happens to have reached the meeting spot unscheduled, found a small gathering not exceeding 300 persons. All accounts confirms that a good number of Hindus, mostly lawyers and the Sikhs were also present. The Quaid was as usual wearing western dress, a sola hat, was noticed smoking cigar on the dais. Many took him for an Englishman36 and quite a few left when he addressed them in English as it was not followed by all.37 The special branch timed the speech about 30 minutes, explaining to all that he had not come to lend support to any particular political group in the province, but to enlighten them on the aims and objects of the All India Muslim League. He also talked for a while on the 1935 Act and exhorted the Muslims to forge unity in their ranks and files, evolving one united party “Should they form such a party Hindus will follow suit”. He emphasized that the Muslim League aimed at producing liberal and progressive minded nationalist who could lead their nation to freedom.38 He advised them to send their best men to the assembly.39 He also asked the Hindus and Sikhs to sent their best too so that Hindu-Muslim unity is cemented and way paved for swaraj.40

Pir Bakhsh at the end of the speech gave a resume of it in Urdu. The meeting dispersed by about 5:30 p.m.41

On Tuesday, the 20th of October, the Quaid visited Islamia College on the invitation of the Khyber Union, the student organisation. The chief informants for this function are Ayub Khattak, Abdul Manan,42 both second year students of Islamia College. Malik Shad also participated in this function and has some dim recollections of it. Ayub Khattak informs that the college administration was not happy with this invitation and the organizers had to assure the Principal that the guest would not make any political speech. Khatak, Manan, and few others who were interviewed confirmed that Sahibzada Qayum was not present in the function.43

The Quaid was welcomed on entering the hall (Roosekepple) by students who had occupied it to full. The Principal (R.H. Holdsworth) welcomed the guest, as president of the Union. Prof. Mohammad Shafi, in his address paid tributes to the Quaid for his efforts in bringing unity in Muslim thought. He dwelt at length on the concept of Muslim unity and quoted extensively from Iqbal. The Quaid spoke for about half an hour. He advised the students “to advance themselves politically and educationally”.44 He was sure that this seat of learning (Islamia College) will one day equal the glamour of Al-Azhar and Cordova.45 Mohammad Yusuf Khalil, the vice-president of the Union, thereafter dilated on the objectives of the student body touching also upon the Pathan code of honour and ethic and requested the guest to become their honorary life member. The membership register thereafter was presented to him. The Quaid while singing it remarked that it is so endearing to his heart that he was signing the document without reading it.

This function, in all probability, took place in the afternoon.46 The meeting soon after adjourned with no tea party.47

There are positive evidence that the Quaid’s visit to Landi-Kotal was on the 21st or the 22nd. A group photograph at Landikotal in currency for a while in Peshawar was lately displayed at the centenary exhibition at the University of Peshawar. Malik Saida Khan Shinwari played host for him at his village in Landi Kotal. No positive date for this visit could be ascertained. It certainly was not Friday, the 23rd of October, as Malik Shad affirms that the Quaid performed Juma prayer in Masjib Mohbat Khan, wearing fez, under the imamat of Hafiz Noor Mohammad.48 The government record at the political Agent Khyber office is not in order to establish the correct day of visit.

The Quaid’s stay from 21st to 24th is also shrouded in myth. No definite story can be built as there is no authentic record with the exception of a secret police report that the Quaid met important Muslim leaders on the 23rd at the residence of Sahibzada Qayum, in the cantonment area in which Kuli Khan, Abdul Rahim Kundi, Pir Bakhsh, Abdul Rahman, Lal Badshah and Hakim Abdul Jalil participated.49 There is no detailed account of the meeting. The report concludes that a branch of the provincial Muslim League was formed on the suggestions of the Quaid with Khuda Bakhsh as president, Pir Bakhsh secretary and Hakim Jalil, Rahim Bakhsh, Abdul Latif, Syed Ali and Lal Badshah as members of the executive committee.50 Another report emanating from the same source reveals that Abdul Wadood Sarhadi alongwith a few other met the Quaid on the 24th and apprised him of the situation in the province. Wadood did not show any inclination to join Muslim League, on the contrary he forecasted that the Khudai Khidmatgar will win the forthcoming election and the Muslim League stood no chance to compete with them.51

This was the plea also taken by all other political leaders. There are indications that the Frontier leaders were not keen then to bet on the Muslim League for the forthcoming provincial elections and therefore they all preferred to contest the election in their individual capacity rather than as League candidates. The Khyber Mail carried the following column by its staff reporter on the conclusion of the Quaid’s tour of the Frontier.

“Mr. Jinnah saw works of all shades of opinion and had an exchange of views with them. A number of representative Muslims from all over the Province met him on Friday afternoon.

After a long discussion it was decided to form a party in order to take steps for the early formation of a Provincial Muslim League in the NWFP. Members of this Consultative Board include about 20 members of the Independent Party of the Province with Mr. Pir Bakhsh Khan MLC as convener.

It is proposed to hold a representative meeting of the Frontier Muslims of all shades of political thought in the first week of November at Peshawar in order to finally decide the question of the formation of the Muslim League. This decision has excited considerable interest in political circle of the Frontier. The majority of the workers in Peshawar seem to agree with Mr. Jinnah as regards programme of the League which they are studying keenly at present.

Mr. Jinnah before his departure told the Press that he was entirely satisfied with the result of his Frontier visit and cherished strong hopes of a bright future.

Members of the Independent Party, who owing to their election activities could not attend the above meeting have telegraphically informed of the above result. Mr. Jinnah has promised to visit the Frontier again whenever it is necessary for him to do so in the interest of the new Board. It is also stated that Maulana Ahmad Saeed, Secretary of Jamiatul Ullama-e-Hind, Delhi, will be deputed by Mr. Jinnah to do propaganda in the NWFP on behalf of the Muslim League.”52

The Quaid left Peshawar on the 24th evening. He was seen off at the railway station by about fifty persons important amongst them Pir Bakhsh, Lal Badshsh and Abdul Jalil.53


Mohammad Anwar Khan is Director, Institute of Central Asian Studies, University of Peshawar.

References

  1. Jamilul Din Ahmad, Historic Documents on the Muslim Freedom Movement p. 193. Hereafter cited as Historic Document.
  2. Ibid.
  3. The letter to Pir Bakhsh presently form part of Aziz Javed collection.
  4. Khuda Bakhsh to Jinnah DIK 30-4-1936 QA Paper cell Islamabad.
  5. This information is based on the statement of Mr. Ghaznavi.
  6. Aziz Javed collection.
  7. Abstract of NWFP, Police Intelligence Secret File No. 94 P. 319.
  8. Ibid.
  9. “The role of NWFP in Pakistan Movement” by Pir Bakhsh in Dawn Supplement May 12, 1975.
  10. Letter.
  11. The information from Malik Mohammad Shah and Rahim Bakhsh Ghaznavi.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Pir Bakhsh to Jinnah, Peshwar 14-10-1936. QA Paper Cell.
  14. The title of Khushbash (happy going) was conferred on him by Pandit Amir Chand Bambwal, the editor of Frontier Advocate in prison during 1922 on account of his jolly disposition.
  15. Mr. Rahim Bakhsh Ghaznavi, a follower of Nishtar, informs that Sardar Abdul Rab Nishtar, then an opponent of Pir Bakhsh was highly alarmed on hearing the Quaid’s visit on the invitation of the rival group. He sent the two brothers, Allah Bakhsh Yousufi and Rahim Bakhsh Ghaznavi to Lahore to apprise the Quaid of their standpoint and to ask him not to do anything which in any degree harm their group position. Later Nishtar went in advance to see him at the Noshera railway station and tried to convince him of his viewpoint. It seems to have made little effect on him because later developments show that the Quaid could not under any circumstance encourage schism amongst the Musalmans.
  16. Khyber Mail, Oct. 18, 1936 p. I Col. 2.
  17. Abstract of Intelligence p. 369.
  18. Ibid.
  19. Khyber Mail.
  20. Malik Shad.
  21. Malik Shad says that Mian Mohammad nicknamed Nim Shah said so.
  22. Mr. Ayub Khattak accompanied the group to the Station and then joined the procession upto the residence.
  23. Ayub Khattak’s interview. This statement is also corroborated by Malik Shad.
  24. Malik Shad deposes that Pahlavan Faqir Mohammad and Fazal Mahmood were reciting Iqbal’s poem in the front line.
  25. Khyber Mail May 10, 1936 P. I Col. 2.
  26. Ibid., June 14, 1936 P. 2 Col. 4.
  27. Khyber Mail. There are many entries to this effect In 1936 file.
  28. Khyber Mail August 16, 1936, p. I Col. I.
  29. Ibid., October 4, 1936 p. I Col. 2.
  30. Ibid., August 16, 1936 p. I Col. I.
  31. Abstract of Intelligence op. cit., p. 369.
  32. Ibid.
  33. Abstract of Intelligence o.p. cit., P. 377.
  34. Ibid., P. 381.
  35. Ibid., P. 381.
  36. Professor J.D. Khiliji recollections.
  37. Ibid.
  38. Abstract of Intelligence op. cit., p. 382.
  39. Khyber Mail 25th Oct. 1936 p. I Cols. 2-3.
  40. Abstract of Intelligence op. cit.
  41. Malik Shad.
  42. Mr. Abdul Manan Khan is currently Agriculture Secretary to the Government of NWFP.
  43. Dr. Sakhaullah ex-Professor of Arabic also lends support to it.
  44. Ayub Khattak’s recollections.
  45. Abdul Manan’s recollections.
  46. Ayub Khattak asserts that it was in the afternoon. Abdul Manan would not remember it. Dr. Sakhaullah thinks it was in the forenoon. The College’s own account is silent about it.
  47. Ibid.
  48. He is not quite sure, but thinks it was Hafiz Noor.
  49. Abstract of Intelligence op. cit., P. 382.
  50. Abstract of Intelligence op. cit., P. 382.
  51. Ibid.
  52. Khyber Mail, October 25, 1936 op. cit.
  53. Abstract of Intelligence P. 382.

Source: World Scholars on Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
Edited by: Ahmad Hasan Dani, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan 1979.

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