Sir Muhammad Zafrullah KhanAs a jurist, a diplomat and a patriot he stood head and shoulders above the lesser men who have made a mockery of our republic…

Born in 1893 in Sialkot, this small town boy rose to be one of the shrewdest legal minds of his time. His early education was in Sialkot, after which he proceeded to Lahore for his bachelors degree, under the tutelage of none other than the great Iqbal himself.   He got his law degree from King’s College London in 1914, where he stood top of his class and was the first person from the Indian subcontinent to do so.  He was, like most great figures of that time, called to bar at Lincoln’s Inn.

As a practicing lawyer, he soon proved his mettle and had many reported cases to his name.  The first major politician to recognize Zafrullah’s talents was Sir Fazli Hussain, the founder of Unionist Party of Punjab.  Starting his career in his early 30s as a member of the Punjab legislative Council, he rose to prominence as an indefatigable crusader for Muslims of Punjab.  Later he represented the Muslims at round table conference and crossed swords with figures like Jinnah and Gandhi.

In 1931, he became the Muslim League president and at the roundtable conference, he cornered no less a person than Churchill in a committee hearing who was forced to accept Zafrullah’s point of view.  Later he was offered a seat on Viceroy’s permanent Council, which he took to further his cause.  He also served at varying times as the minister of Railways, Public works, labour and law under the Viceroy.  For a brief period, he also became British India’s representative to the League of Nations, just before it was dissolved.

However his greatest contribution came when he drafted the famous Lahore Resolution, which till this day is the rallying point of Pakistan and Pakistani nationalism.  He had been tasked with finding a common point between the popular demand for “Pakistan” and Muslim League’s all India requirements.   The Lahore resolution was a broad based solution which left the door virtually open for several solutions and negotiation on the issue of partition.  In essence it envisaged 2 or 3 great republics for the Muslim peoples and it was this document which forms the basis not just of Pakistan but also of Bangladesh. Later from 1942 onwards, he served as a federal judge (equivalent of an Supreme court C judge) of India and finally took leave on the eve of Pakistan to serve the cause of Pakistan before the Radcliffe Commission, on Jinnah’s personal request.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 in as much 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, 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.”

Sir Muhammad Zafrullah KhanOn 25th December 1947, Jinnah appointed him the Foreign Minister of Pakistan. At the UN, Sir Zafrullah emerged as the most eloquent advocate of all third world and Islamic issues.  Zafarullah Khan was a great orator for the Palestine and the Arab cause and was an extremely respected figure in the Muslim world, he raised the Palestine issue in the United Nations on multiple occasions. In October 1947 he delivered a speech on the Palestine issue in the UN General Assembly, which is one of the most strong case ever presented for Palestine to date. The complete transcript of Zafarulah Khan’s 1947 Palestine Speech can be downloaded from here.

After his speech, 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”

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 Secretary General of the Arab League Abdur Rahman Azzam Pasha in his letter of Nov 15,1951 said:
 

“Reading your speech in (UN) Assembly, I prayed to God to save you and preserve your health in the service of Islam.”

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.”

Sir Muhammad Zafrullah KhanHis speech on Kashmir Issue on January 15, 1948 in the UN Security Council is considered as the most comprehensive presentation of the Kashmir Issue ever on international stage, his speech continued for 7 straight hours and resulted in materialization of UN resolutions on Kashmir which Pakistan even today holds as an evidance and basis for its case for Kashmir.  It is unfortunate that the person who made such an incredible effort for our country has faded away from our history.

 

Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, who became Finance Minister in 1951 and Prime Minister of Pakistan 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.”

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)

Sir Muhammad Zafrullah KhanLater Sir Zafarullah Khan became the first Asian president of the International Court of Justice, a singular and unique honor for any Pakistani. He also served, briefly, as the President of the UN General Assembly. On his retirement from the International Court of Justice, the Hauge, Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto sent him this message.

“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 pridethat one naturally felt at the respect you commanded in the international community and the United Nations in your various capacities.”

Sir Muhammad Zafrullah KhanAfter 1953 distrubances against Ahmedis a court of enquiry was setup by the Government of Punjab presided by 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), writes in his report – commonly refered to as Munir Report.

“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)

Sir Muhammad Zafrullah KhanSir Zafarullah Khan was a prolific author on the history of Pakistan and Islam, his most famous book was titled “Agony of Pakistan” in which he makes plain the great betrayal which wrested the country from the hands of its patriots into the hands of those who were its greatest enemies. Ironically, today Jinnah’s most trusted lieutenant is not even remembered by the state which owes him so much, including its own founding document. It is the memory of people like Zafrullah Khan that will keep alive the original idea of Pakistan and there is no doubt that one day the posterity will reclaim its true destiny as a progressive and modern republic.

Scholarship:

Sir Muhammad Zafrullah Khan rendered much service to the Cause of Islamic Scholarship as well as through his acumen and skill as a lawyer and diplomat.

His publications are well known in academic circles, not least of which was his outstanding translation of the meaning of the Holy Qur’an, which he translated and published in continuous prose to make the Qur’an accessible for English readers.  One of his most acclaimed works was the biography (Seerah) of his Master-Prophet, the Chosen One, Sayyiduna Muhammad (saw).  Anyone who reads this will find it to be a labour of love – an ode to the Prophet (saw) from whose teachings he drew so heavily and practised throughout his life. 

Most of his works are now available to read online or download.

Some of his publications and translations can be found on this page:  http://www.alislam.org/books/

More information about Sir Muhammad Zafrullah Khan can be found on http://www.alislam.org/library/zafar.html

Other Downloads:

India-Pakistan and Kashmir – Background

Minutes of speech on Palestine Issue – Lake Success 07 Oct 1947

Speech in UN GA 28Nov1947 – Palestine question

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