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Choudhry Rahmat Ali was one of the earliest advocates of the creation of the state of Pakistan. Rahmat Ali a Pakistani Muslim nationalist is generally recognized as the creator of the name “Pakistan” for a separate Muslim, homeland in South Asia and is known as the founder of the Pakistan National Movement. Ali was born in November 1895 into a Gujjar Muslim family in a District of Indian Punjab. From his early childhood, Rahmat Ali showed signs of great promise as a student. After completing his schooling, he joined the Islamia College of Lahore, after his graduation in 1918; he initially taught at Aitcheson College Lahore and later joined Punjab University in order to study law. However In 1930 he moved to England to join Emmanuel College Cambridge, in 1931. He obtained a BA degree in 1933 and MA in 1940 from the University of Cambridge. In 1943, he was called to the Bar, Middle Temple Inn, London. Rahmat Ali finished education in England, obtaining MA and LLB with honors from the universities of Cambridge and Dublin.
Ali was passionately dedicated to the cause of separate Muslim homeland for South Asian Muslims and believed that the Muslims of India had to reform politically in order to become a viable, independent community. He was inspired by Islamic history, particularly the example of the Prophet Muhammad and his success in bringing various Arab tribes together during the founding period of Islam. He believed that in order to survive the increasingly hostile India, Indian Muslims should unite on the same lines. He was deeply influenced by the writings and philosophy of Allama Muhammad Iqbal as well. Ali’s writings, in addition to those of Muhammad Iqbal and others were major catalysts for the formation of Pakistan.
It was during the years 1930 through 1933, that he established the Pakistan National Movement, with its headquarter at Cambridge. Until 1947, he continued publishing various booklets about his vision for South Asia. On January 28, 1933, he issued his first memorable pamphlet “Now or Never; Are we to live or perish forever?” The pamphlet gave reasons for the establishment of Pakistan as a separate nation coining the word Pakistan for the first time.
The famous 1933 pamphlet, also known as the Pakistan Declaration, started with a famous statement:
“At this solemn hour in the history of India, when British and Indian statesmen are laying the foundations of a Federal Constitution for that land, we address this appeal to you, in the name of our common heritage, on behalf of our thirty million Muslim brethren who live in PAKISTAN – by which we mean the five Northern units of India, Viz: Punjab, North-West Frontier Province (Afghan Province), Kashmir, Sind and Baluchistan.”
Choudhry Rahmat Ali propagated the Scheme of Pakistan with a missionary zeal since its inception in 1933. He coined the word “Pakistan”, and published various booklets about his vision for South Asia. While making these endeavors he had expected people would have to fight to create Pakistan, but he never imagined the horrors of the communal rioting and mass murder which took place. He was shattered by the events associated with Partition in 1947 and 1948. Moreover he was also dissatisfied with the distribution of areas among the two countries which was far smaller than the one he suggested and dreamed of, and considered it a major reason for the disturbances.
Regarding the creation of the name “Pakistan” there are several accounts, according to one account Ali moved to a now famous house in Cambridge in 1932, on 3 Humberstone Road. It was in one of the rooms of this house that he is said to have written the word ‘Pakistan’ for the first time. According to a friend, Abdul Kareem Jabbar, the name came up when Ali was walking along the banks of the Thames in 1932 with his friends Pir Ahsan-ud-din and Khwaja Abdul Rahim. According to Ali’s secretary Miss Frost, he came up with the idea while riding on the top of a London bus. Ali’s biographer, K.K.Aziz writes that “Rahmat Ali alone drafted this declaration (in which the word Pakistan was used for the first time), but in order to make it “representative” he began to look around for people who would sign it along with him. This search did not prove easy, “for so firm was the grip of ‘Muslim Indian Nationalism’ on our young intellectuals at English universities that it took me (Rahmat Ali) more than a month to find three young men in London who offered to support and sign it .” Later on, his political opponents used the name of these signatories and other friends of Ali, as creator of word ‘Pakistan’.
Ali is known for his steadfast dedication to the idea of Pakistan. After its formation in 1947, he argued on its behalf at the United Nation over the issue of Kashmir. and the rights of Muslim minority of India.
While Choudhry Rahmat Ali was a leading figure for the conception of Pakistan, he lived most of his adult life in England. He had been voicing his dissatisfaction with the creation of Pakistan ever since his arrival in Lahore on April 6, 1948. He was unhappy over a Smaller Pakistan than the one he had conceived in his 1933 pamphlet “Now Or Never”.
After the creation of Pakistan he returned to Pakistan in April 1948, planning to stay in this country, but he was ordered by the then Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan to leave the country. His belongings were confiscated, and he left empty-handed for England in October 1948. He died in February 1951 and was buried on 20 February at Newmarket Road Cemetery Cambridge UK. Emmanuel College’s Master, who had been Rahmat Ali’s Tutor, himself arranged the burial in Cambridge on 20 February 1951.