Abdul Qayyum Khan

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Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan
عبد القیوم خان
17th Minister for Interior
In office
13 May 1972 – 13 January 1977
Prime MinisterZulfikar Ali Bhutto
Preceded byZulfikar Ali Bhutto
Succeeded byZulfikar Ali Bhutto
5th Chief Minister of the North-West Frontier Province
In office
23 August 1947 – 23 April 1953
GovernorGeorge Cunningham
Ambrose Flux Dundas
Sahibzada Mohammad Khurshid
Muhammad Ibrahim Khan
I. I. Chundrigar
Khwaja Shahabuddin
Preceded byDr Khan Sahib ( 1st Chief Minister of the North-West Frontier Province)
Succeeded bySardar Abdur Rashid Khan
Personal details
Born(1901-06-16)16 June 1901
Chitral, Chitral State, British India
Died23 October 1981(1981-10-23) (aged 80)[1]
Islamabad, Pakistan
Resting placePeshawar, Pakistan
Political partyPakistan Muslim League (Qayyum) (1970-1981)
Other political
Indian National Congress (1934-1945)
All-India Muslim League (1945-1947)
Muslim League (1947-1958)
Pakistan Muslim League (1962-1970)
Alma materGovernment College University, London School of Economics, Lincoln Inn

Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan Kashmiri (Urdu: عبدالقیوم خان کشمیری) (16 July 1901 – 23 October 1981[1]) was a major figure in British Indian and later Pakistan politics, in particular in the North-West Frontier Province, where served as the deputy speaker of the provincial assembly, first Chief Minister of North-West Frontier Province and served as Interior Minister of Pakistan in the central government from 1972 to 1977.[1]

Early life[edit]

Abdul Qayyum Khan was born in the State of Chitral but had Kashmiri origin.[2] His father, Khan Abdul Hakim, was originally from the Wanigam village in the Baramulla district, Jammu and Kashmir,[3][4][5] but worked as a Tehsildar in the North-West Frontier Province (N.W.F.P., now called Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan in 2017) of British India.[citation needed]

Khan was educated at Aligarh Muslim University and the London School of Economics.[6] He became a barrister of the Lincoln's Inn.[7]

One of his brothers, Abdul Hamid Khan (Azad Kashmiri politician), was a prime minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir,[3] and another brother, Khan Abdul Rauf Khan, was a renowned lawyer.[citation needed]

Legal career[edit]

Abdul Qayum Khan was one of the eminent lawyers of N.W.F.P. During his professional career he conducted some very important cases. He used to practice in criminal law. Mirza Shams ul Haq was his most trustworthy colleague, who remained always close to him during profession and politics. Abdul Qayum was also assisted in his chambers by Muhammad Nazirullah Khan advocate, who later served as a provincial secretary general and senior vice president of Pakistan Muslim League.[citation needed]

Political career[edit]

Indian National Congress[edit]

Starting his political career in 1934 with the Indian National Congress, Khan quickly rose to serve as an elected member of the Central Legislative Assembly (1937–38) and the deputy leader of the Congress in the Assembly. At that time he admired Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan. He authored a book, Gold and Guns on the Pathan Frontier,[8] in which he praised Ghaffar Khan and denounced Jinnah and the two-nation theory. Abdul Qayyum Khan said that the North West Frontier Province would resist the partition of India with its blood.[9] He switched his loyalties to the Muslim League in 1945.[6] He later claimed that Ghaffar Khan was plotting Jinnah's assassination.[10] He banned his own book after he became the Chief Minister in the N.W.F.P. The book however continued fetching royalties even after he joined the Muslim League.[11][12]

Muslim League and Partition[edit]

In the 1946 provincial elections, Khan campaigned for the All-India Muslim League along with Pir of Manki Sharif. However, the Muslim League won only 17 seats in comparison to the 30 seats of the Congress Party. The Congress Party formed the provincial government under the premiership of Khan Abdul Jabbar Khan (popularly known as "Dr. Khan Sahib").[13][2]

Abdul Qayyum Khan was put in charge of destabilising the Congress government in the province through street agitations, ideological rhetoric and acquisition of sympathetic Muslim officers in the government.[2] The presence of a Congress government at the extreme north-west of the Indian subcontinent was anomalous, and the province became a bone of contention between the Congress and the Muslim League as part of the Partition of India.[14] Eventually, the British decided to hold a referendum to determine which dominion the province should go to. Abdul Ghaffar Khan demanded a separate nation of 'Pakhtunistan' comprising both the North-West Frontier Province and Pashtun parts of Afghanistan. When it was denied by the British Raj, he and his party boycotted the referendum held by the British government. The Muslim League won an easy victory for Pakistan (289,244 votes against 2,874 for India).[2]

Within a week of the independence of Pakistan, the Congress government was dismissed under orders from Governor General Jinnah. Abdul Qayyum Khan was put in charge of a minority government on 23 August 1947. Khan navigated through the troubled waters ably, winning the defection of enough Congress legislators to support his government.[15][16]

First Kashmir War[edit]

Qayyum Khan was a key instigator of the First Kashmir War, if not the chief instigator.[a]

North-West Frontier Province[edit]

As the premier of the NWFP, Qayyum Khan faced internal dissension. The Pir of Manki Sharif, who was a key figure in the campaign for referendum, was miffed that he was passed over for the post. He objected to Khan holding both the premiership of the state and the presidency of the provincial Muslim League. The Pir gathered disgruntled legislators and intended to bring a vote of no-confidence against Khan. Khan diffused his efforts. Then the Pir formed a separate party under the banner of All Pakistan Awami Muslim League. An exasperated Khan responded with "full fury and force". He forced out the Pir of Manki Sharif from the NWFP and imprisoned nine other leaders. Despite the crackdown, the Awami Muslim League contested the provincial elections in 1951 to win 4 seats.[17]

Qayyum Khan's administration was known for its development work in the province, including the construction of Peshawar University and the Warsak dam. He introduced compulsory free education up to middle school level in Frontier province, the first province of Pakistan to have this reform. He also made poor friendly amendments to the land revenue laws. He evoked opposition from a section of the feudal class due to his egalitarian policies. His political stand was opposition to the Khudai Khidmatgar movement of Ghaffar Khan.[18][failed verification] His alleged role in ordering the Babrra massacre is one which he faces much criticism. He led the Muslim League to a landslide victory in the 1951 elections, despite opposition from the Khudai Khidmatgar movement and opposition from federally backed fellow Muslim league opponents like Yusuf Khattak.[19]

Qayyum Khan served as the Chief Minister till 23 April 1953.[16]

Central Government[edit]

He served as central minister for Industries, Food and Agriculture in 1953.

Arrested by the Ayub Khan regime, he was disqualified from politics and imprisoned for two years before finally being released.

Contesting the 1970 General Election in Pakistan from three seats as leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Qayyum faction, he won two National Assembly of Pakistan seats, one provincial seat and, in 1973, entered into alliance with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) after East Pakistan broke away in the Bangladesh Liberation War.

Appointed federal interior minister by Zulfiqar Bhutto, he served in that post till the 1977 elections, when his party suffered a near total rout. After Zia-ul-Haqs assumption of power, Qayyum Khan tried to unify all the disparate Muslim League factions. His efforts were inconclusive and he died on 22 October 1981.[1]

He was always opposed by Khan Habibullah Khan; they were lifelong rivals since they were young classmates at Islamia College, Peshawar.[citation needed]


Babrra massacre[edit]

Under the orders of Abdul Qayyum Khan[20] the Babrra massacre occurred on 12 August 1948 in the Charsadda District of the North-West Frontier Province (now Khyber Pukhtunkhwa) of Pakistan, when workers of the Khudai Khidmatgar movement protesting the jailing of their leader, anti-colonial independence activist Abdul Ghaffar Khan were fired upon by the provincial government.[21] According to official figures, around 15 protestors were killed while around 40 were injured. However, Khudai Khidmatgar sources maintained that around 150 were killed and 400 were injured.[22]

In September 1948, then Chief Minister, Abdul Qayyum Khan gave a statement in the provincial assembly, "I had imposed section 144 at Babra. When the people did not disperse, then firing was opened on them. They were lucky that the police had finished ammunition; otherwise not a single soul would have been left alive". Khan Qayyum said hinting at the four members of the opposition in the provincial assembly. He said; "If they were killed, the government would not care about them."[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
    • Saraf, Kashmiris Fight for Freedom, Volume 2 (2015, p. 47): [In September 1947] "He [Abdul Qayyum Khan] was, therefore, of the opinion that while an internal revolt was desirable, what really was needed was an organised attack from Pakistan. It seems that he had already established contact with Major Khurshid Anwar and had drawn up a plan for the entry of tribesmen into the State through Muzaffarabad."
    • Ankit, The Cunningham Contribution (2010, p. 34): [In October 1947] 'Iskander Mirza came to the Governor and finally brought him into the loop. The Defence Secretary briefed the Governor "all the underground history; apologised on behalf of Liaquat for keeping him in the dark and confirmed that it was decided about a month ago that Poonchis' revolt should be helped. Jinnah sanctioned the project 15 days ago while Abdul Qayyum was in it from the beginning."'
    • ISPR, Defence and Media 1991 (1991, p. 100): "The Kashmir war had three to four distinct phases. Initially there were spontaneous uprisings... In the second phase volunteers and Mujahideen joined the lashkars. In this phase the handling of operations was in the hands of Khan Abdul Qayyum, Chief Minister of NWFP, Khawaja Abdul Rahim, the Commissioner of Rawalpindi and a few other spirited leaders, without any control by the Federal Government."
    • Effendi, Punjab Cavalry (2007, p. 149): "However, it was Qayyum Khan, Chief Minister of NWFP, and the 'Young Turks' of the Muslim League who launched the invasion of the state."
    • Siddiqi, Vivid memories and lost opportunities (2000): [In November 1947] "The Governor, Sir George Cunningham, and the Premier (as a provincial Chief Minister was then known), Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan, were in charge of the tribal outflow and reinforcements. Of the two, mainly Qayyum Khan had been responsible for the induction of the tribal lashkars in the Kashmir jihad."


  1. ^ a b c d Obituary and profile of Abdul Qayyum Khan on New York Times newspaper website, Published 24 October 1981, Retrieved 26 May 2017
  2. ^ a b c d Kamran, Early phase of electoral politics in Pakistan 2009, p. 267.
  3. ^ a b Snedden, Understanding Kashmir and Kashmiris 2015, pp. 171–172.
  4. ^ Saraf, Kashmiris Fight for Freedom, Volume 2 2015, p. 85.
  5. ^ Diplomat, Mirza Hashim Baig, 1994
  6. ^ a b Kamran, Early phase of electoral politics in Pakistan 2009, p. 268.
  7. ^ Spain, James William (1995), Pathans of the Latter Day, Oxford University Press, p. 110, ISBN 978-0-19-577576-1
  8. ^ Kh̲ān, 'Abdul Qayyūm (1945), Gold and Guns on the Pathan Frontier, Bombay: Hind Kitabs
  9. ^ Islam, Shamsul (4 December 2015). "Saying No to Partition: Muslim leaders from 1940-1947". SabrangIndia. Abdul Quaiyum Khan from the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) declared that his province would resist Partition of the country with its blood.
  10. ^ M.S. Korejo (1993) The Frontier Gandhi, his place in history. Karachi : Oxford University Press.
  11. ^ Malik, Murtaza (1 January 2002), The Curtain Rises: Uncovered Conspiracies in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Royal Book Company, p. 3, ISBN 978-969-407-271-5
  12. ^ Akhtar, Jamna Das (1969), Political Conspiracies in Pakistan: Liaquat Ali's murder to Ayub Khan's exit, Punjabi Pustak Bhandar, p. 105
  13. ^ Jaffrelot, Pakistan: Nationalism without a Nation 2002, p. 14.
  14. ^ Hodson, The Great Divide 1969, p. 277, 282.
  15. ^ Kamran, Early phase of electoral politics in Pakistan 2009, p. 267, 268.
  16. ^ a b Religious parties to rule NWFP a second time, Dawn, 20 October 2002.
  17. ^ Kamran, Early phase of electoral politics in Pakistan 2009, p. 269.
  18. ^ Jalal, Ayesha(1991)The State of Martial Rule: The Origins of Pakistan's Political Economy of Defence. Lahore. Vanguard
  19. ^ Afzal, M. Rafique (2002). Political Parties in Pakistan: 1947–1958, Vol. 1. Islamabad, National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research.
  20. ^ Pakistan: History and Politics, 1947–1971 (1 April 2002) by M.Rafique Afzal p38 OUP Pakistan ISBN 0-19-579634-9
  21. ^ Miscreants and militants DAWN. Retrieved 15 September 2008
  22. ^ Rajmohan Gandhi (1 January 2004). Ghaffar Khan, Nonviolent Badshah of the Pakhtuns. Penguin Books India. p. 210. Official figures mentioned fifteen dead fifty injured, but KK (Khudai Khidmatgar) sources maintained that 150 had been killed and 400 wounded
  23. ^ 12 August 1948: Remembering Pakistan's forgotten massacre at Babrra. The Nation.


Further reading[edit]

  • Hassan, Syed Minhaj-ul. NWFP Administration under Abdul Qaiyum Khan, 1947–53.
  • Qaiyum, Abdul, Gold and Guns on the Pathan Frontier, Bombay, 1945
Political offices
Preceded by Chief Minister of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
Succeeded by
Preceded by Interior Minister of Pakistan
Succeeded by