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SIR SIKANDAR HAYAT KHAN
Sikandar Hayat Khan was born on June 5, 1892 in Multan. He belonged to the Khattar Tribe of Attock. He was the son of Nawab Muhammad Hayat Khan, a police inspector in the British Government. Later, he became Tehsildar and finally Assistant Commissioner. He went to Aligarh for education and was admitted to Oriental College and High School. Sikandar Hayat went to England for higher education but came back without a degree. He joined the British Army in WW2 and reached the position of Captain. After the war, he started his business and entered local politics. He became managing director of several companies named the Wah Tea Estate, the Amritsar-Kasur Railway Company, the people’s bank of Northern India, the Sialkot Narowal Railway, the Wah stone, and Lime Company, and many others.
Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan joined local politics as he returned from England. He actively participated in Punjab politics at a crucial time. He was elected as a member of the Punjab Legislative Council from Attock District in 1920. He joined the secular unionist party of Sir Fazl-i-Hussain. It represented the interests of the landed gentry and landlords of Punjab including Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus. Sikander Hayat got the victory in the elections of 1937 and became premier of Punjab. He carried out many reforms in favor of Punjabi Zamindar.
Muslim League and Lahore Resolution:-
Sir Sikandar Khan joined AIML in the wake of Jinnah-Sikander Pact in 1937. He believed in the policy of cooperation with the British for the independence of India and tried to maintain a balance in the Punjab political system. His inclusion in AIML upgraded Muslim’s morale. He guided other unionist members to counter congress totalitarianism. He was one of the chief supporters and architects of the Lahore Resolution. He resigned from National Defense Council on Jinnah’s recommendation in 1941. He also opposed Quit India Movement in 1942.
Role during Second World War:-
Sir Sikandar supported the British struggle against Nazi Germany in Second World War. He believed in cooperating with the British Government as it would help in independence. He was active in the recruitment of troops from Punjab in Second World War as part of the ‘War Effort’. The Muslim League leadership agreed with his perspective and cooperated with British Raj.
Political Contributions of Sikandar Hayat Khan:-
Sikandar Hayat Khan was a great administrator. Sir Sikandar showed his strengths in the local administration in 1920. it resulted in his contacts with the unionist party. Unionist Party was a coalition of Hindu farmers in east Punjab and Muslim feudal and landowners of West Punjab. Sikandar was also appointed as the revenue member of the Punjab Government. He succeeded Sir Fazl-e- Hussain, as the leader of the Unionist Party and claimed victory in the first election of Punjab legislative Assembly in 1937. Sikandar remained the premier of Punjab till his death.
His main political contribution was the strong opposition of the Unionist Party toward the division of Punjab. His Administration was admired owing to various innovative forms of taxation. This alarmed the money lenders. He appealed for the collection of one rupee tax from all Muslims to renovate the Badshahi Mosque. Owing to this, he had been buried at the doorstep of the Mosque.
Vision on the partition:-
Sikandar Hayat Khan viewed India as a collection of the states including the Muslim majority and Hindu majority areas. Sikandar Hayat khan proposed a scheme of a loose federation for Indio in 1939. India should be divided into regional and zonal legislatures to deal with local people’s problems while the state might continue to remain united. Punjab could not ignore the issue of partition as it was a Muslim majority area and Jinnah has a strong foothold. Lahore Resolution promised adequate and effective safeguards for the minorities to protect their politics, culture, religion, and economics. Jinnah also made efforts to avoid a clash between the Muslim Governor and Muslim-led parties to ensure the security of Minorities. Sikandar Hayat, in this context, can be regarded as a strong voice for Punjab.
He died in December 1942. He is buried outside the Badshahi mosque. His numerous works were left half done especially British war efforts and his attempt to save Punjab from communal friction.