Academic journal article Journal of Political Studies

National Integration of Pakistan: An Assessment of Political Leadership of Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy

Academic journal article Journal of Political Studies

National Integration of Pakistan: An Assessment of Political Leadership of Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy

Article excerpt

Mahatma Gandhi, while addressing a Muslim gathering once said, "Jinnah, there is your statesman; Liaquat, there is your politician; Suhrawardy, there is your leader." (Talukdar, 1987, pp. 71-72) Known for his controversial role in the Direct Action Day of August 16, 1946, he is considered as the first populist leader in Pakistan's history. Founder of Awami League, a cultivated and sensitive man with a cosmopolitan outlook and background Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy had an ironic wit. (James, 1993, p. 18) A man of great charm and humour, equipped with an extraordinary intellect and power of persuasion, he had no fear. He would not yield to President Gen. Ayub Khan or any other General. (Gauhar, 1998, pp. 24-25)

Suhrawardy rendered substantial services during the Pakistan Movement. He was the moving spirit behind the United Muslim Party, which was converted into Muslim League in Bengal. (Ahmad K. , 1970, p. 33) In 1941, Suhrawardy kept the masses consolidated in support of the Muslim League during the critical situation when A. K. Fazlul Huq was dismissed from Muslim League. Suhrawardy with the help of Abul Hashim took the Muslim League in Bengal to a level of membership that was more than the party's membership in all other provinces in India combined. In April 1946 he led the largest and the most enthusiastically welcomed contingent in Muslim League Legislators' Convention held in Delhi on 8 April 1946 (Dil, 2000, pp. 276-77) where Abul Hashim pleaded for free Bengal but he moved the resolution for Pakistan, through which ambiguities of whatever kind existed in the Lahore Resolution (1940) were removed.

To Matinuddin (1994, p. 64) he was the only person who had the ability and the stature to keep the two wings together. Begum Shaista Ikramullah observes that he was "the only person...besides Jinnah who inspired such universal and wholehearted love and admiration for he had charisma." She notes that had he "been allowed to play the part that was his,. the antagonism and bitterness would not have grown to the extent that led to the division of Pakistan afterwards.. He was the one leader who straddled both East and West Pakistan and who had the prestige in West Pakistan to safeguard the rights of East Pakistanis, and who had the influence in East Pakistan to persuade the people to accept what was best for both parts of the country. But the chance was never given to him and when the crisis came he was no more." He had himself once said jokingly, "The English language, the PIA and I are the only links between East and West Pakistan." (Dil, 2000, pp. 272-73)

The trust and esteem in which he was held by the East Pakistanis was not at all misplaced. Even Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rehman, later the founder Prime Minister of Bangladesh, did not have the courage to disobey his commands. If he had stayed in office of Prime Minister of Pakistan for a longer period.he would have succeeded in bringing East and West Pakistan closer together. He would certainly have smashed the Bengali Movement. (Hamid, 1993, pp. 188-89)

Suhrawardy was mindful of the challenge of separatism confronting the Pakistani leadership. He predicted in his first speech in Constituent Assembly of Pakistan (CAP) that "if Pakistan is not founded on the co-operative goodwill of all the nationals, a time will come when it will destroy itself." (Suhrawardy H. S., 1948, p. 593)He, at another occasion recognizing the growing alienation of Bengalis and the inevitability of a violent upheaval, mentioned that "by all accounts there is general political stagnation and the question remains how it can be ended. The general theory is that when constitutional avenues are blocked, people find a way to adopt unconstitutional measures - in short, the revolution." Pointing out to a contingency and mass upheaval which was probably approaching before he said, "I have succeeded in stemming this, but we have yet to see if it is entirely extinguished. If not, desperation may once more light the smouldering fires and destroy me in the process as well. …

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