Chaudhry Muhammad Zafrulla Khan’s Services to Pakistan and The Muslim World by M. J. As’ad

by M. J. As’ad

When he turned 90 a devoted admirer wrote to him:

“You are ninety today; a record glorious in every respect, fulfilling in all dimensions of life; your equation with God being the most envious. I am sure generations to come would wish to emulate you. I am equally sure that future historians must see you very much bigger as their view would be un-jaundiced. Sooner or later your services to the Muslims of the Sub-Continent, particularly of Pakistan, must stand out in bold and lustrous relief in historical accounts.”

Prompt, as was his wont, came the reply:

“If I could believe myself truly deserving of one hundredth portion of the encomia that the generosity of your heart has persuaded you to heap upon me, I would deem myself most fortunate. Yet I must humbly acknowledge with deep gratitude the countless bounties that Allah, the Lord of immense grace, had bestowed upon me throughout a long life unworthy as I know myself to be. In the conduct of daily life I am completely helpless and without experience. I have no concept of the value of currency and have never kept an account. Yet in the discharge of the responsibilities pertaining to a variety of assignments to which His grace has been pleased to call me from time to time, I have been enabled to acquit myself without discredit. Among His numberless bounties are a good memory and intellectual appreciation of the problems with which I have been confronted. With the help of these and constant, humble, earnest and zealous supplications, my own and of numerous warm hearted and revered patrons and friends, Allah has of His abundant grace and mercy, covered up the multitude of my defaults and shortcomings. Praise be to Him for evermore.”

His humility charismatic characteristic, his stature unmistakably evident.

In presenting the following few comments by eminent contemporaries and the press in the context of his services to Pakistan and the Muslims world, we are only seeking to affirm his rightful place in the history, particularly noting the present unfortunate trend of disparaging or ignoring his contributions today, what objective historians are bound to acknowledge tomorrow.

Services to Pakistan


The British Prime Minister made a formal announcement in the House of Commons on February 20, 1947, that the whole responsibility for the government and administration of India would be transferred to Indian hands and that if no settlement is arrived at between the political parties in India, the responsibility would be transferred to a Central Government and to provinces and other authorities in such a manner as may appear to His Majesty’s Government to be in the best interest of India. This was the time when the coalition Ministry in the Punjab, headed by Malik Khizar Hayat Tiwana, was at loggerheads with Punjab Muslim League. At this critical juncture, Zafarullah Khan in his letter dated February 22, 1947 advised Khizar Hayat Khan to tender his resignation in the larger interest of the Indian Muslims. Acting on this advice, Khizar Hayat Khan resigned on March 2, 1947. Zafarullah Khan’s letter, interalia, says:

“It has now become imperative that the Muslims should close their ranks and should carry on a united struggle to secure their future in India. All other considerations sink into insignificance in comparison with this. You will appreciate that it is not possible to set out in the space of a letter all the factors to which the situation has given rise. I can only assure you that before writing to you I have considered the problem in as many of its aspects as my mind has been able to grasp.The deliberate conclusion at which I have arrived is that notwithstanding every possible consideration to the contrary, personal, party or ideologic, you ought to seize this opportunity to come to a settlement with the League so that henceforth all efforts in the Punjab should have a unified direction and Muslims should devote themselves to safeguarding their future not only in the Punjab but throughout India. You should make immediate contact with the leaders of the Muslim League in the Punjab, whether they are in jail or outside of it, and tell them that the situation created by the British Prime Minister’s statement renders it imperative that you should come to an understanding with each other. You should also make it quite clear to them that on your side you do not insist upon remaining in power nor lay down any condition with regard to how the Ministry should be reconstituted. If on their side they insist that your Muslim supporters in the Assembly should join them unconditionally I would earnestly request you to accept the condition.”

Even the draft of the statement issued by Khizar Hayat Khan on his resignation was prepared by Muhammad Zafarullah Khan.


Commenting on Chaudhry Muhammad Zafarullah Khan’s vigorous advocacy of the Muslim League case before Radcliff Commision, the Urdu daily Nawa- i-Waqt, Lahore, dated August 1, 1947, writes:

“For four days on end Chaudhry Muhammad Zafarullah Khan argued the Muslim case in most forceful, most brilliant and most reasonable manner. Success is in the hands of Providence, but the excellence and the ability with which Zafarullah Khan advocated the Muslims case has given satisfaction to the Muslims inasmuch as they feel that their just and righteous cause has been represented before the powers that be in the best possible manner. We are confident that all Muslims of the Punjab, whatever their religious beliefs, would acknowledge and be grateful for this service.”


Iftikhar Husain Khan, Nawab of Mamdot, the President of Punjab Muslim League, in his letter dated August 8, 1947, to Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, who argued Pakistan’s case before Radcliff Commission, under instructions from Quaid-e-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, writes:

“Now that the Boundary Commission has concluded its hearings, I wish to express deep sense of gratitude which I and all other Mussalmans of the Punjab feel towards you. Your unremitting toil in the collection of material, your brilliant presentation of our case and your profound interpretation of law and history have won universal admiration. In this most critical hour of our history, you have rendered an inestimable service to the Millat and created a lasting place in the hearts of all Mussalmans. We can never forget how willingly you agreed to interrupt your important discussions in London, return and fulfil this patriotic mission. The knowledge that your zeal was inspired solely by your love for Islam fills our hearts with pride and gratitude.”


Mr. Justice Muhammad Munir, a judge of the Lahore High Court (who later rose to the office of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan) who presided over the Court of Inquiry set up by the Government of Punjab, to enquire into the Punjab disturbances on 1953, in his report – commonly known as `Munir Report’ – describes as `vile and unfounded’ the charges levelled against the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community that the district of Gurdaspur was assigned to India by the Award of the Boundary Commission because of the gratitude adopted by the Ahmadi Muslims and the arguments addressed by Chaudhry Zafarullah Khan who had been selected by Quaid-e- Azam to represent the case of Muslim League before the Commission. He says:

“The President of this Court who was a member of that Commission considers it his duty to record his gratitude to Chaudhry Zafarullah Khan for the valian fight he put up for Gurdaspur. This is apparent from the record of the Boundary Commission which anyone who is interested may see. For the selfless services rendered by him to the Muslim Community, it is shameless ingratitude for anyone to refer to Chaudhry Zafarullah Khan in a manner which has been referred by certain parties before the Court of Inquiry.” (Munir Report page 197)


Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, who in June 1947 was appointed as a member of the Steering Committee of the Partition Council for India and Pakistan, was Secretary General, Government of Pakistan, after the establishment of the new State, became Finance Minister in 1951 and Prime Minister in 1955, while referring to the debate on Kashmir in the Security Council and Pakistan’s reply on January 15, 1948 to India’s complaint, in his monumental book “The Emergence of Pakistan” states that:

“Zafarullah Khan’s masterly exposition of the case convinced the Security Council that the problem was not simply one of expelling so called raiders from Kashmir, as the Indian representative would have them believe, but of placing Indo-Pakistan relations on a just and peaceful basis and solving the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the will of the people of the State.”


The Canada Stary Weekly, Toronto, in its issue of May 28, 1949, says:

“The man who more than any other single person has put Pakistan on the international map as a force to be reckoned with is Sir Muhammad Zafarullah Khan.”


When some disgruntled persons made a row against Muhammad Zafarullah Khan in 1952, the daily Dawn, Karachi, dated May 22, 1952, condemned these elements and observed:

“The Pakistani nation cannot be so ungrateful to Chaudhry Muhammad Zafarullah Khan (who is serving her with great sincerity and devotion) as to be misled by the uproar of a handful of reactionaries – uproar of a small number of people who are prisoners of their own obscurantism.”


Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, a former Prime Minster of Pakistan, already mentioned above, in his letter to Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, dated October 3, 1955, expresses his “deep sense of gratitude and admiration for the disinterested and untiring way, you are continuing to serve Pakistan and the cause of Islam.” He adds “It was very good of you to have visited Syria and Lebanon and done so much for Pakistan and I might add Islam.”


Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada, a former Foreign Minister of Pakistan and President of the Pakistan Legal Aid Association, says:

“From Sialkot to the Security Council, from Round Table Conferences to international conferences, from the Join Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, from the Viceroy’s Executive Council to the Pakistan Cabinet, from the Indian Assembly to the General Assembly of the United Nations and from the Federal Court of the sub-continent to the International Court of Justice, Chaudhry Zafarullah’s contribution is clean and consistent, creditable and commendable.”(Dawn, Karachi, March 3, 1964)


Former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto sent a message of appreciation to Chaudhry Muhammad Zafarullah Khan on his retirement from the Presidentship of the International Court of Justice at The Hague. His message read:

“I wish to convey to you our deep appreciation for the services you have so selflessly rendered over several decades to the people of Pakistan as well as to the international community. As a leading member of the political movement, which led to the achievement of a homeland of the Muslims in the sub-continent and earlier as President of the All India Muslim League in 1931, you played a very significant role in the creation of Pakistan. As Foreign Minister of Pakistan for the first seven years after the birth of the country, you helped in establishing Pakistan as a state which commanded respect abroad and whose voice carried weight in international forms. Your services to Pakistan, however, did not end there. As President of the UN General Assembly and as a judge of the International Court of Justice you not only served the international community as a whole, but in doing so enhanced the prestige of Pakistan. I can say with full confidence that all of us shared the pride that one naturally felt at the respect you commanded in the international community and the United Nations in your various capacities.”

Services to the Muslim World

Muhammad Zafarullah Khan’s logical and forceful advocacy of the cause of the Arabs in particular, and his support to the aspirations of the subject nations of Africa and the Third World, in general, on the forum of the United Nations and outside it, won him universal appreciation and respect.


The Statesman, Delhi, dated October 8, 1947, editorially observes:

“For the first time the voice of Pakistan was heard in the counsels of the United Nations on a burning topic of world-wide significance when leader of this country’s delegation, Chaudhry Zafarullah Khan, addressed the United Nations Palestine Committee at Lake Success on Tuesday. It was a telling speech which tore into shreds the specious pleas put forward by the advocates of the partition of Palestine. Chaudhry Zafarullah did not merely indulge in rhetoric when he described the partition plan as `physically and geographically a monstrosity’, he proceeded to prove this by unassailable arguments. Answering the contention that the migration of more Jews into Palestine should be permitted because the Jewish displaced persons desired to go to that country, Pakistan’s spokesman asked whether the Americans would consent to relax or abrogate their own immigration laws if displaced persons of various other nationalities desired to enter the United States and settle there? Would America, he further asked, agree to take in the five million displaced persons of the Punjab if they desired to leave the scene of their suffering and cross over to the United States. We have little doubt that the Arabs will rejoice to find the voice of Pakistan so powerfully raised in the United Nations in defence of their cause. The addition of the independent sovereign state of Pakistan to the comity of free Muslim peoples of the World is already beginning to have its effect on international affairs,”

the paper concluded.


The same paper in its issue, dated October 11, 1947, quotes “an Arab Spokesman” on Muhammad Zafarullah Khan’s speech before the Palestine Committee of United Nations General Assembly, on October 7, 1947, as saying:

“It was a most brilliant and exhaustive survey of the Arab case regarding Palestine that I have ever heard.”


In one of his letters in Urdu dated March 6, 1948, addressed to a Pakistani, Khawaja Hassan Nizami, the well-known Muslim divine of Delhi, in reference to the brilliant advocacy of the Palestine cause by Muhammad Zafarullah Khan at the United Nations, writes:

“The fact of the matter is that Chaudhry Zafarullah Khan has done a job for which 80 crore Muslims of the World owe him a debt of gratitude. I never hesitate to mention this fact to all, the intelligentsia and the common people alike. Even in my speeches at big public gatherings. I freely express this view.”


His Majesty King Faisal-al-Saud, who in his capacity as Foreign Minister of Saudia Arab headed the Saudi Arabian delegation to the United Nations, in a letter, dated May 5, 1948, to Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, thanked him `for your close co-operation and the noble stand which your Excellency has taken, not only during the meeting but since the question of Palestine has been put before the United Nations. Allow me to state that your high principles have created a desire on the part of all righteous persons to identify themselves with the efforts of your Excellency, not only on behalf of the Arabs, but Moslems all over the world as well’, the letter adds.


Al-Syed Ahmad Asim, Sajada Nashin Dargah Hazrat Sheikh Abdul Qadir Gilani, Baghdad, a cousin of Al-Syed Abdul Qadir Al-Gilani, former Ambassador of Iraq to Pakistan, in his letter in Urdu dated July 5, 1948, addressed to Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, writes:

“I avail of this opportunity to thank you from the core of my heart, on my behalf as well as on behalf of the family of Hazrat Gous-ul-Azam, for the great Jihad you waged in a purely Islamic spirit in support of the Holy Land of Palestine before the United Nations. I earnestly pray that Almighty Allah may grant you full recompense for your services and enable you to further serve the cause of Islam.”


Syed Amin Husseini, Grand Mufti of Palestine, in a telegram dated, Cairo, March 1, 1950, says:

“Wish reassure your Excellency our deep appreciation your invaluable efforts for just causes of Islam. May God guard you crowning your efforts with success.”


A three-member delegation of Libya, including the Secretary General of Libya’s Liberation Council, called on Pakistan Ambassador in Cairo, Haji Abdus Sattar Seth, on June 20, 1950 and expressed their country’s gratitude to Pakistan for the services rendered by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Chaudhry Muhammad Zafarullah Khan in connection with the independence of Libya. The delegation said Pakistan’s Foreign Minister had presented the feelings of the people of Libya before the United Nations in a remarkable manner. It is through his efforts that Libya is now on the threshold of independence (Libya achieved independence on January 1, 1951). Libya can never forget the services rendered by Pakistan and its respected Foreign Minister and for this is sincerely grateful to Pakistan. (The news was carried by papers dated June 21, 1950).


The spontaneous reaction of Mr. Awny Dejani, a Palestinian Arab, who was a senior member of the Saudi Arabian delegation to the 1950 United Nations General Assembly Session, to one of Muhammad Zafarullah Khan’s speeches before the United Nations supporting the Arabs cause, was epitomised in the following words jotted on a piece of paper and sent to Zafarullah Khan on the conclusion of his address:

“You were God-sent to us, Sir. No words of mine or expressions from my heart could convey to you, Sir, our indebtedness to your leadership. God bless you, Sir, and keep you for us.”


Mr. Abdul Rahman Azzam, the Secretary General of the Arab League, in his letter, dated November 15, 1951, observes:

“Reading in my bed your speech in the Assembly, I prayed to God to save you and preserve your health for long years in the service of Islam. My congratulations on your clear, human and Islamic statement from the world rostrum.”


Al-Ayyam of Damascus in it’s issue of 24 February writes:

“Zafarullah Khan will be given a tremendous welcome in the Syrian capital. He raised his voice in defence of humanity, justice and righteousness at every political gathering and at every international forum. Zafarullah in the person who bent all his energies in representing the causes of the Arab countries and as such his name will ever be written in gold in the history of the Arabs. His conscience is saturated with faith; his conversation is marked with reason and logic. He always keeps in view true and unalloyed good of humanity. In welcoming Muhammad Zafarullah Khan today we are welcoming a person of faith, belief and humaneness who wants to see the establishment of a pure, clean and exemplary society in the world, who desires to bring about an environment of brotherhood and camaraderie in which human life could flourish unimpeded and no human being could usurp the rights of another fellow human being.”


Prominent Egyptian leader Al-Sayed Mustafa Momin, in an interview to A.P.P (published in various Pakistan dailies dated May 24, and 25, 1952) states:

“Chaudhry Muhammad Zafarullah Khan holds an enviable position in the world of Islam. He is looked upon as a topmost statesman, in the Middle East in general and in Egypt and other Arab countries, in particular. By his forceful support of Tunisia, Morocco, Iran and Egypt at the United Nations, he has served the cause of Islam in a way no other leader has been able to do.”


In June 1952, Al-Jareeda, a Cairo newspaper, carried a so-called fatwa by one Mufti Husnain Muhammad Mekhloof, in which he had attacked the Ahmadiyya Jama’at and the process spewed fire and brimstone on Muhammad Zafarullah Khan. The Secretary General of the Arab League, Abdur Rahman Azzam Pasha, issued a statement expressing extreme disgust over the fatwa. The statement was also published by Al-Jareeda in its issue dated June 22, 1952. An English rendering of the statement by Abdur Rahman Azzam Pasha is as follows:

“It came to me a great surprise that you (i.e. Editor of the newspaper) accepted an opinion expressed by the Mufti about Qadianis or Chaudhry Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, as an effective religious fatwa. If this principle is accepted, the beliefs of human beings, their honour and prestige and their entire future will be at the mercy of the views and opinions of a few ulema. Fatwa is sought and given on a definite and unambiguous matter. Even fatwa pronounced in this manner does not carry more weight than that of an opinion. Nor is it necessary that others should accept it. Islam does not permit papaey of ulema and gives them no authority to pronounce anyone beyond the pale of Islam.Everyone who believes in the Unity of Allah, and in Muhammad (peace be upon him) as His Prophet and turns of Ka’aba for prayers, is surely a Muslim. Such one needs no certificate for being a Muslim. It is utterly against the interest of Muslims to call any sect as heretic; one of the cardinal principles of Islam is that one should not doubt the faith of the other. We know for certain that Zafarullah Khan is a Muslim by profession and by practice. He has been successful in defending the cause of Islam all over the world. Whatever stand was taken in defence of Islam, he was always its successful protagonist. It was for this reason that he came to be respected by all and the hearts of Muslims all the world over were filled with sentiments of gratitude for him. He is one of those ablest leaders who have the knack of skilfully resolving national and popular problems.”


Senator Jalal Hussein of Egypt in a telegram to Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, dated June, 24, 1952, says:

“Assure your Excellency wholehearted appreciation of your indefatigable efforts to serve Islamic countries. Arabs aware of your Jihad for Islam.”


Az-Zaman, a Cairo newspaper, in its issue dated June 25, 1952, writes:

“Responsible quarters are severely condemning this fatwa. The courage with which Chaudhry Muhammad Zafarullah Khan has always defended the causes of the Arabs in general and of Egypt in particular in the context of safeguarding Islamic interests, has won him grateful applause of responsible quarters.”

The newspaper adds:

“Ahmad Khashaba Pasha, the Director of Al-Azhar University has stated that the fatwa had given him intense pain, because Chaudhry Muhammad Zafarullah Khan had rendered great services to the Muslims and Arab world in general and Egypt in particular. The Al-Azhar chief, in his statement, also mentioned Zafarullah Khan’s support and assistance extended to the Egyptian delegation at various U. N. Assembly sessions, particularly his valuable support in the matter of winning for Egypt a seat in the Security Council.”


Another Cairo daily, Al-Ayam, dated June 28, 1952, published a statement by the well-known Egyptian author, Dr. Ahmad Zaki Bek who, expressing his disgust over the fatwa, says:

“Against which great personality has he pronounced his fatwa? Yes, against that great person who has done so much for the good of Islam and Muslims that the Mufti has neither been able to do so far nor is he likely to do in the future even if he lives the full span of his life.”


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