Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan – An Appreciation

Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan — An Appreciation (Aftab Ahmad Khan) It is Impossible to present in a short space even a snapshot account of the life and achievements of Sir Mohammad Zafrulla Khan — a distinguished star of the firmament of Ahmadiyyat. His life was not an ordinary one and his achievements are enormous. Which aspect of his life should I highlight. Should I portray him as a successful and eminent legal practitioner who scaled the heights of the profession as a minister of law in the Government of un-divided India, a judge of the Supreme Court of India, a judge and then as President of the International Court of Justice? Or, should I portray him as an outstanding administrator who successfully held the charge of important departments of Railways Commerce and Supplies, as a member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council in India from 1935 to 1940. Again, he deserves to be remembered as a notable legislator—a member of the Legislative Council of the Punjab in 1930, of the Indian Assembly and later as a member of the Constituent Assembly and the National Assembly of Pakistan? And as a political leader, he was outspoken in fighting for the independence of India. Another important aspect of his life which is a befitting subject for writing a book is the crucial role that he played in the establishment and consolidation of Pakistan and, in particular, his singular contribution towards determining the essential parameters of Pakistan’s foreign policy as its first and most distinguished Foreign Minister from 1947 to 1954. A statesman respected throughout the world, he left a permanent mark on the contemporary history because of his deep commitment to uphold and defend the rights of down-trodden and deprived people of Jammun and Kashmir, the Arabs of Palestine and the inhabitants of North Africa. These are the topics which readily came to my mind as a student of history and an observer of international affairs. However, none of these distinctions and honours would have been possible to achieve, had Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan not possessed that extra quality which distinguishes the great from the ordinary. What was that extra dimension to his character and personality that made him a legend of our times? This question led me to recall my last meeting with him and the dilemma of what to say about him in my talk this morning was quickly resolved. SIR MUHAMMAD ZAFRULLA KHAN — AN APPRECIATION 5 I first met Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan at his house in Karachi on 25th January, 1949 when he, as Foreign Minister of Pakistan, invited a small member of junior officers of foreign service. My last meeting with him took place thirty-six years later, on 3rd January, 1985 at the house of his daughter and son-in-law in Lahore. It was a cold, crisp and clear morning and he sat, almost motionless, in a chair wrapped in blanket; a saintly, fragile figure, at peace within himself and with the rest of the world. Mentally, he was alert and agile. He acknowledged my greetings and the first remark he made was to enquire about the welfare of Hazxat Khalifatul Masih IV whom I had seen in London a few days earlier. Then, he asked me about Jalsa Salana in Qadian which I had attended before coming to Lahore. He listened to my account with interest and apparent satisfaction. Probably, he was recalling in his mind the glorious days of his own journeys to Qadian. When I took leave, some half an hour later, he clasped my hands, looked up into my eyes and spoke, in a clear and convincing voice. “You will witness a dramatic progress of Ahmadiyyat in your life time.” I knew that he was speaking from his heart and there was divine sanction behind this prediction. Before driving away from his house, I wrote down his words in my diary. This remark offers the key to the source of his strength and inspiration. The theme of his life was the unfaltering devotion to Islam and the commitment to Ahmadiyyat was the motive force which propelled him to the highest pinnacles of success. The priorities in his life were set clearly and firmly; to conform to the principles and practice of Islam was his ideal and the service of Islam was a sacred duty. For this reason, I shall endeavour to give a brief account of his services to the World of Islam which was nearest and dearest to his heart. He always acknowledged and proclaimed that all the high honours that have come his way were due entirely to his obedience to God. This is what made him so different from all other leaders whose visions or aspirations are influenced by personal or political factors. The most significant event of his life was when at the age of eleven he had a vision of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Mehdi and Messiah, peace be upon him. At that tender age, his mother had already enriched his mind with spiritual nourishment. Three years later, in 1907, he made the Covenant at the hands of the Promised Messiah and his life was completely transformed. That also marked the beginning of his meteoric rise to success and fame. His progress from a district lawyer to an international hero was due entirely to God’s favour and grace which appeared in the form of guidance and training given to him initially by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih I, whose wisdom and sagacity was unparalleled and, later, by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II whose intellectual power and acumen were exceptional. Subsequently he was granted special consideration and affection by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih III and Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV. 6 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS It was Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II who inculcated in him the passion for the service of Islam and inspired in him the belief that the service of Muslims is an essential duty of every Ahmadi. This was the principle of his life and his efforts were rewarded with election in 1931 as President of the New Delhi Session of the All India Muslim League. He represented Indian Muslims at all the three Round Table Conferences in London in the early thirties where he along with the Aga Khan and Mr. Muhammad Ali Jinnah fought for the constitutional rights of Indian Muslims. As a minister in the Government of India before independence he persisted in impressing upon the British Government the need for safeguarding the religious, political and economic rights of Muslims after India’s independence. The British as well as Indian leaders treated him with utmost respect as an honest and sincere spokesman of Indian Muslims during the constitutional negotiations leading to the independence of India in 1947. Here, I may be excused for a slight digression to illustrate my point. In 1935, Sir Zafrulla Khan became a member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council. The most powerful figure in the Council was the Finance Member, SirJames Griggwho had beenPrivate Secretary ofSir Winston Churchill, and later became the Secretary of State for War in the British Government. He was known for his arrogance and aloofness. One day, he unexpectedly dropped in at Sir Zafrulla Khan’s house and without any apparent sign of informality said “Thank heaven for an Indian who knows his mind; exercises his judgement; and is prepared to take responsibility”, and added, “We shall often differ, may even quarrel; but there need be no misunderstanding between us. I wish you good afternoon”. And, then he departed. In 1937, Sir Zafrulla Khan single-handedly and successfully piloted in the Indian Legislative Assembly Mr. Kazmi’s bill for divorce of Muslim women— a legislative feat which earned him the admiration of even the most orthodox Muslim members. Under the leadership of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II, the Ahmadiyya Community was in the fore-front of the struggle for the establishment of Pakistan as a homeland for Muslims in India. Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan was one of the most experienced leaders whose advice and assistance was constantly sought by Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ah Jinnah and the Muslim League leaders. At a critical stage, he was instrumental in securing the resignation of Sir Khizar Hayat Khan Tiwana and the dissolution of the Unionist Party Ministry in the Punjab which paved the way for the Muslim League to take over political power in the province. His appointment in 1947 by Mr. Jinnah to represent the Muslims of the Punjab before the Radcliffe Boundary Commission was not only a recognition of his legal and constitutional skills but also an affirmation that he alone could effectively represent the Muslims of that province and defend their rights. Later, when sectarian intolerance promoted political exploiters to cast doubt on his role in the proceedings of the Boundary Commission, it SIR MUHAMMAD ZAFRULLA KHAN — AN APPRECIATION 7 was the Muslim Members of the Commission, Justice Mohammad Munir who condemned his detractors by publicly acknowledging that it was his duty to record his gratitude to Chaudhri Zafrulla Khan for the valiant fight he put up for the defence of the Muslim case and said, “For the selfless services rendered by him to the Muslim Community, it is shameless ingratitude for anyone to refer to Chaudhri Zafrulla Khan in the manner in which he has been referred to by certain parties” (page 197, the Munir Enquiry Commission Report). Sir Mohammad Zafrulla Khan’s tenure as Foreign Minister is a landmark in the formative years of Pakistan. To do justice to this subject will need a good deal of time and space. Therefore, I shall mention only two most essential elements which illustrate his devotion to the cause of Muslims. The first was the defence of the political and humanitarian rights of Kashmiri Muslims. Initially, India had gone to the U.N. with a complaint charging Pakistan of invading the State of Jammun and Kashmir. Instead, Sir Zafrulla Khan convinced the U.N. that it was India which had deprived the Kashmiri Muslims of their fundamental rights. His diplomatic success in the U.N., described as “masterly” by Chaudhri Mohammad Ali, a former Prime Minister of Pakistan, enhanced Pakistan’s prestige in the international community in the early days when Pakistan had just emerged as a new state. Mr. Josef Korbel of Czechoslovakia who was a member of the U.N. Commission on India and Pakistan has written in his book “Danger in Kashmir” (page 109), “The Indian Government felt that its representatives had not done too well in putting the case before the United Nations and that the Pakistani Foreign Minister, an experienced and popular practitioner in United Nations dialectic, who was as suave and smooth as the Indian delegates were awkward and angular, had scored considerable success”. No other Pakistani leader has fought the cause of Kashmiri Muslims so consistently, forcefully and courageously as the first Foreign Minister of that country. The second aspect of Sir Zafrulla Khan’s service to Islam was his unmatched advocacy of the cause of Muslim and Arabs which has ever since become a fundamental element of Pakistan’s foreign policy. It has earned Pakistan substantial dividends on the form of economic and political gains of great magnitude. He identified Pakistan with the interests of Muslim countries and fought ceaselessly for the rights of Muslims all over the world. One of the first decisions that he made as Foreign Minister was to stop the TCT.M flights landing at Karachi airport because the Dutch Government was flying troops for military action in Indonesia. This measure proved significant for the success of Indonesian freedom fighters. His defence of the rights of Palestinian Arabs constitutes a glorious chapter in the history of the struggle of Muslims against colonialism and foreign domination. At a time when the Arabs were not united and lacked co-ordination and were not even convinced 8 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS of their own case, Sir Mohammad Zafrulla Khan presented the most comprehensive, chronologically co-ordinated and convincing case against the western powers which were determined to establish a Zionist state in the heart of the Arab world. In his book “The Emergence of Pakistan” Choudhri Muhammad Ali, says, “Pakistan treated the Arab cause in the United Nations as its own and there was no more eloquent exponent of this cause in the United Nations than Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Zafrullah Khan.” Sir Zafrulla’s heroic fight in the United Nations for the freedom of Libya, Tunis and Morocco is another epic story of selfless devotion to the cause of Muslims. In the Arab world his name has been inextricably linked with the independence of these territories. Many children born in the early fifties were named after him. Mr. Fadhil Jamali, a former Foreign Minister of Iraq, in a tribute on his death last year, wrote in the Tunisian daily, “Al-Sabah” of 10th October, 1985. “In fact, it was not possible for any Arab, however capable and competent he may be, to serve the cause of Palestine in a manner in which this distinguished and great man dedicated himself. What was the result of the debate in the United Nations is another matter. But, it must be acknowledged that Mohammad Zafrulla Khan occupies a pre-eminent position in defending the Palestinians in this dispute. We except from all Arabs and followers of Islam that they will never forget this great Muslim fighter. After Palestine, the services of this man for the independence of Libya also deserves admiration. In the United Nations, his struggle for the rights of Arabs formed the basis of firm and lasting friendship between us.” Pakistan has continued to derive maximum political, economic and security advantages from the goodwill of Arabs and the Muslim countries. Today, many claimants have appeared as authors of that friendship. The foundation of this policy was laid down by Sir Mohammad Zafrulla Khan who pursued it as an article of faith rather than as a political expediency to win popularity or secure personal gain. He visited Palestine in 1945 and was deeply distressed by Zionist designs backed by both Capitalists and Communists in pursuance of their respective interests. In 1948, he was invited to Damascus to meet the Foreign Ministers of six front-line Arab countries to co-ordinate the strategy of struggle of Arabs against Zionism. In 1951, he toured Turkey, Lebanon and Syria. The next year he went to Egypt and Iraq and a year later he was invited to visit Iran, Jordan and Syria. During these visits, he established personal contacts with the leaders of these countries, particularly with President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt; the King of Morocco, the President and the Prime Minister of Syria, and the Hashemite Rulers of Jordan. One of the most valued contacts that he made with the Arab leaders at the U.N. was with Crown Prince Faisal of Saudi Arabia who later became the King. At his invitation, he visited Saudi Arabia in March 1958 and had the privilege of performing the Umra. He was received by King Saud who personally thanked him for the services rendered to the Arabs. During his last illness in 1985 all SIR MUHAMMAD ZABRULLA KHAN — AN APPRECIATION 9 the Arab Governments conveyed good wishes and prayers for his recovery. King Hussein of Jordan offered to send his own aircraft and medical team to arrange for his treatment. No other Pakistani or Muslim leader in contemporary history has received such high respect and universal acclaim from the rest of the world including those against whom he fought for the sake of principle. The “Dawn” of Karachi acknowledged in an editorial on September 3, 1985. “He earned the abiding respect and admiration of the Arab and other Muslim nations as a defender of their interests.” In a personal tribute, His Majesty King Hussein bin Tallal of Jordan said, “He was indeed a champion of the Arab cause and his ceaseless efforts whether among the Muslim and non-aligned countries or at the International Court of Justice will remain for ever a shining example of a great man truly dedicated to our faith and civilization.” No account of Sir Mohammad Zafrulla Khan’s service to Islam without a reference, albeit a brief one, to his writings and publications on Islam and Ahmadiyyat. He translated the Holy Quran into English and also the writings of the Promised Messiah. His biography of the Holy Prophet Mohammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, is a testimony to his intense love and obedience to the Prophet of Islam. These publications serve as a most valuable introduction to Islam and its philosophy, particularly for readers in the West. He spent the last year of his life serving Islam through his writings as well as by personal example as a true believer and servant of God. One can talk for hours about his exceptional qualities his unimpeachable intellectual integrity and honesty, remarkable simplicity and accessibility, and unlimited capacity to bestow favours of friendship and consideration on others. These are the qualities of a Muslim as enj oined by the Holy Quran. He was a true Muslim also in his attitude towards his adversaries and personal critics. This was the aspect of his life which reflected the greatness of his character and the beauty of his personality. I can find no better way of ending than to quote a letter from an Indian gentleman Dr. B. R. Sen. He was a senior official of the Indian Government who served as Director General of the Food and Agricultural Organization. Acknowledging the receipt of Sir Zafrulla’s autobiography, “Servant of God”, he wrote on 8th April, 1984. “Zafrulla has always been one of my heroes in public life. I have always admired his intellectual abilities and also his integrity which is a rare thing in public life these days. Another quality of his that I have admired is his capacity of friendship. I remember one of his statements to me when I went to call on him in New York, where he was attending a Security Council debate, that he always tried to keep his brain on ice. His long and outstanding distinguished public life reads like a fairy story.” We pray that Allah may grant mercy and grace to His devoted servant and rest the departed soul in peace. Amen.