Choudhry Rahmat Ali

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Choudhry Rahmat Ali
چودھری رحمت علی
Born(1897-11-16)16 November 1897
Died3 February 1951(1951-02-03) (aged 53)
Resting placeCambridge City Cemetery, Cambridge, England
Academic work
Notable works"Pakistan Declaration"
Notable ideasConception of "Pakistan"

Choudhry Rahmat Ali (Punjabi, Urdu: چودھری رحمت علی; Punjabi pronunciation: [tʃoːdɦəɾi ɾɛɦmət əli]; 16 November 1897 – 3 February 1951) was a Pakistani nationalist who was one of the earliest proponents of the creation of the state of Pakistan. He is credited with creating the name "Pakistan" for a separate Muslim homeland in South Asia and is generally known as the originator of the Pakistan Movement.

Choudhry Rahmat Ali’s seminal contribution was when he was a law student at the University of Cambridge in 1933, in the form of a pamphlet "Now or Never; Are We to Live or Perish Forever?", also known as the "Pakistan Declaration".[1][2][3][4] The pamphlet was addressed to the British and Indian delegates to the Third Round Table Conference in London.[5] The ideas did not find favour with the delegates or any of the politicians for close to a decade. They were dismissed as students' ideas. But by 1940, the Muslim politicians in the subcontinent came around to accept them, leading to the Lahore Resolution of the All-India Muslim League, which was immediately dubbed the "Pakistan Resolution" in the press.

After the creation of Pakistan, Ali returned from England in April 1948, planning to stay in the country, but his belongings were confiscated and he was expelled by the prime minister Liaqat Ali Khan. In October 1948, Ali left empty-handed. He died on 3 February 1951 in Cambridge "destitute, forlorn and lonely".[6] The funeral expenses of insolvent Ali were covered by Emmanuel College, Cambridge on the instructions of its Master. Ali was buried on 20 February 1951 at Cambridge City Cemetery.

Education and career[edit]

Rahmat Ali was born on 16 November 1897 into a Punjabi Muslim family. According to the historian K. K. Aziz, who knew Ali personally, he was from the Gujjar tribe.[7] He grew up in the town of Balachaur in the Hoshiarpur District of Punjab in British India.[8][9] After graduating from Islamia College Lahore in 1918, he taught at Aitchison College Lahore before joining Punjab University to study law. In 1930, he decided to move to England to study law at Emmanuel College, Cambridge which he joined in 1931. Subsequently, he obtained a BA degree in 1933 and MA in 1940 from the University of Cambridge. In 1933, he published a pamphlet, "Now or Never", coining the word Pakistan for the first time.[10] In 1943, he was called to the Bar, from Middle Temple, London.[11]

In 1946, he founded the Pakistan National Movement in England. Until 1947, he continued publishing various booklets about his vision for South Asia. The final Partition of India disillusioned him due to the mass killings and mass migrations it ended up producing. He was also dissatisfied with the distribution of areas between the two countries and considered it a major reason for the disturbances.[citation needed]


Ali's writings, in addition to those of Muhammad Iqbal and others, were major catalysts for the formation of Pakistan. He offered the name "Bangistan" for a Muslim homeland in the Bengal region, and "Osmanistan" for a Muslim homeland in the Deccan. He also suggested Dinia as a name for a South Asia of various religions.[12][13]

Conception of 'Pakistan'[edit]

In 1930, Ali moved to a house in Cambridge, 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. There are several accounts of the creation of the name. 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.[14]

Sir Mohammad Iqbal said that Rahmat Ali visited him in London when he was there for the First Round Table Conference in 1930 and asked him what he would call the government of the Muslim state he had proposed in Allahabad. Iqbal told him that he would call it "Pakistan" as an acronym based on the provinces' names.[15]

On 28 January 1933, Ali voiced the idea in a pamphlet titled "Now or Never; Are We to Live or Perish Forever?".[16] The word 'Pakstan' referred to "the five Northern units of India, viz., Punjab, North-West Frontier Province (Afghania), Kashmir, Sindh and Baluchistan".[17][18] By the end of 1933, 'Pakistan' had become common vocabulary, and an i was added to ease pronunciation (as in Afghan-i-stan).[19] Ali also wrote that this would be followed by "reintegration of the three Muslim 'Asian' homelands of Afghanistan, Iran and Tajikistan" into Pakistan, a reference to Northwest India's political, historical and cultural affiliations with West Asia.[20]

In a subsequent book, Ali discussed the etymology in further detail:[21] 'Pakistan' is both a Persian and an Urdu word. It is composed of letters taken from the names of all our South Asia homelands; that is, Punjab, Afghania, Kashmir, Sindh and Balochistan. It means the land of the Paks – the spiritually pure and clean.

Historian Aqeel Abbas Jafari has argued that the name "Pakistan" was invented by a Kashmir Journalist, Ghulam Hassan Shah Kazmi on 1 July 1928, when he moved an application before the government in Abbottabad seeking a sanction for publishing a weekly newspaper, "Pakistan". This was probably the first time, the word Pakistan was used in the subcontinent. Choudhry Rahmat Ali is said to have suggested the name of the independent Muslim state Pakistan in 1933, 5 years after the name was adopted by Ghulam Hasan Shah Kazmi for his newspaper.[22][23]

Ali's pamphlet described the Muslims of his proposed 'Pakistan' as a 'nation', which later formed the foundation for the two-nation theory of the All-India Muslim League:

Our religion and culture, our history and tradition, our social code and economic system, and our laws of inheritance, succession and marriage are fundamentally different from those of most peoples living in the rest of India. The ideals which move our people to make the highest sacrifices are essentially different from those which inspire the Hindus to do the same. These differences are not confined to broad, basic principles. Far from it. They extend to the minutest details of our lives. We do not inter-dine; we do not inter-marry. Our national customs and calendars, even our diet and dress are different.

— Choudhry Rahmat Ali in January 1933[24]

Ali believed that the delegates of the first and second Round Table Conferences committed 'an inexcusable blunder and an incredible betrayal' by accepting the principle of an All-India Federation. He demanded that the national status of the 30 million Muslims of the northwestern units be recognized and a separate Federal Constitution be granted to them.[24]

Ali's biographer, K. K. Aziz writes,[25] "Rahmat Ali alone drafted this declaration"[26] (in which the word Pakistan was used for the first time), but 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 creators of the word 'Pakistan'.

Opposition to "Indianism"[edit]

According to his writings, "Indianism" meant emphasizing the abode and culture of the "caste Hindus" as the primary and essential constituent of a subcontinent-wide nation. It was in his view Indianism was "the designation of a State created by the British for the first time in history", citing that the All-India National Congress being established in 1885 as evidence that Indianism originated in the hands of the British in the service of British imperialism. He criticizes the notion of the unity of "the country of India"; instead he considers it a continent with a wide variety of nations, ethnicities and religions, and that the Muslims, Sikhs, the Marathas, the Akhoots (untouchables) and the Rajputs were in fact separate nations, on whom the fetters of "Indianism" were fastened by imposing on all of them this "preposterous prefix of All-India".[27]

Iqbal and Jinnah[edit]

Choudhry Rahmat Ali (seated first from left) with Muhammad Iqbal (center), Khawaja Abdul Rahim (right) and a group of other young activists during Iqbal visit to England in 1932

On 29 December 1930, Muhammad Iqbal delivered his presidential address, wherein he said:[28]

I would like to see Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sindh and Baluchistan amalgamated into a single State. Self-government within the British Empire, or without the British Empire, the formation of a consolidated North-West Indian Muslim State appears to me to be the final destiny of the Muslims, at least of North-West India.

According to some scholars,[29] Iqbal had not presented the idea of an autonomous Muslim State; rather he wanted a large Muslim province by amalgamating Punjab, Sindh, NWFP and Baluchistan into a big North-Western province within India.[30] They argue that Iqbal never called for any kind of partition of the country.[31][32][33]

On 28 January 1933, Choudhry Rahmat Ali voiced his ideas on 'Pakistan'. By the end of 1933, the word "Pakistan" became common vocabulary where an "I" was added to ease pronunciation (as in Afghan-i-stan). In a subsequent book Rahmat Ali discussed the etymology in further detail: "'Pakistan' is both a Persian and an Urdu word. It is composed of letters taken from the names of all our South Asia homelands; that is, Punjab, Afghania, Kashmir, Sindh and Balochistan. It means the land of the Pure."[21][unreliable source?][citation needed]

Jawaharlal Nehru had written in his book on the scheme: "Iqbal was one of the early advocates of Pakistan and yet he appears to have realised its inherent danger and absurdity. Edward Thompson has written that in the course of the conversation, Iqbal told him that he had advocated Pakistan because of his position as President of the Muslim League session, but he felt sure that it would be injurious to India as a whole and Muslims especially."[34]

In 1934, Choudhry Rahmat Ali and his friends met Muhammad Ali Jinnah and appealed for his support of the Pakistan idea. He replied, "My dear boys, don't be in a hurry; let the waters flow and they will find their own level."[35][36]

Proposed maps and names[edit]

Ali published several pamphlets where he called himself the "Founder of the Pakistan National Movement". In these pamphlets he included maps of the subcontinent with potential Muslim states, including Haideristan, Siddiqistan, Faruqistan, Muinistan and Maplistan.[37] Safiistan and Nasaristan were proposed on Sri Lanka.[38]

In his maps he renamed the Indian subcontinent 'Pakasia' or more often 'Dinia' (an anagram of "India" with position of 'D' changed). Dinia was represented with dependencies Pakistan, Osmanistan (representing Hyderabad Deccan and neighbouring areas) and Bangistan (representing Bengal). He proposed the former Muslim provinces of Eastern Bengal and Assam in East India to become Bangistan, an independent Muslim state for Bengali, Assamese and Bihari Muslims. He proposed the princely Hyderabad State, to become an Islamic monarchy called Osmanistan.[12][13] Ali also renamed the seas around the Indian subcontinent, and referred the seas around landmass of Dinia as the Bangian, Pakian and Osmanian seas that were his proposed names for the Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea, and the Indian Ocean respectively.[37][38]

These alternate geographical maps of the subcontinent were followed by the mention of Rahmat Ali’s position as the "founder of the Siddiqistan, Nasaristan and Safiistan National Movements".[37]

Mian Abdul Haq, a contemporary of Rahmat Ali at the University of Cambridge, stated that, after 1935, Rahmat Ali's mental makeup changed resulting from a study of "major Nazi works, of which he knew many passages by heart".[39]

After the creation of Pakistan[edit]

While Choudhry Rahmat Ali was a leading figure for the conception of Pakistan, he lived most of his adult life in England.

After the partition and creation of Pakistan in 1947, Ali returned to Lahore, Pakistan on 6 April 1948. He had been voicing his dissatisfaction with the creation of Pakistan ever since his arrival in Lahore. He was unhappy over a smaller Pakistan than the one he had conceived in his 1933 pamphlet.[40] He condemned Jinnah for accepting a smaller Pakistan,[40] calling him "Quisling-e-Azam."[41][a]

Ali had planned to stay in the country, but he was expelled from Pakistan by the then Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan. His belongings were confiscated, and he left empty-handed for England in October 1948.[43]


Headstone of Ali's Grave

Ali died on 3 February 1951 in Cambridge. According to his secretary Thelma Frost, he was "destitute, forlorn and lonely" at the time of his death.[6] Fearing (correctly) that he may have died insolvent, the Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, Edward Welbourne, instructed that the College would cover the funeral expenses. He was buried on 20 February at Cambridge City Cemetery in Cambridge, England.[44] The funeral expenses and other medical expenses were repaid by the High Commissioner for Pakistan in November 1953, after what was described as a “protracted correspondence” between the London office and the relevant authorities in Pakistan.[45]


Rahmat Ali is credited by Pakistanis for having coined the term "Pakistan" and envisioning a separate state for Muslims. Beyond that, his ideas are not explored in any detail.[46]


  • Now or Never; Are We to Live or Perish Forever?, also known as the "Pakistan Declaration", (1933)
  • What Does the Pakistan National Movement Stand For? (Cambridge: Pakistan National Movement, 1933)
  • Letters to the Members of the British Parliament (Cambridge, 8 July 1935)
  • Islamic Fatherland and the Indian Federation: The Fight Will Go On for Pakistan (Cambridge: Pakistan National Movement, 1935)
  • Letter to The Times, 8 December 1938
  • The Millat of Islam and the Menace of Indianism (Cambridge: Pakistan National Movement, 1942)
  • The Millat and the Mission: Seven Commandments of Destiny for the 'Seventh' Continent of Dinia (Cambridge: Pakistan National Movement, 1942) in which Rahmat Ali proposed relabeling the Indian subcontinent as its anagram Dinia. The word Dinia was made by moving the letter d that appears in the middle of the word 'India' to the beginning.
  • The Millat and her Minorities: Foundation of Faruqistan for the Muslims of Bihar and Orissa (Cambridge: The Faruqistan National Movement, 1943)
  • The Millat and her Minorities: Foundation of Haideristan for Muslims of Hindoostan (Cambridge: The Haideristan National Movement, 1943)
  • The Millat and her Minorities: Foundation of Maplistan for Muslims of South India (Cambridge: The Maplistan National Movement, 1943)
  • The Millat and her Minorities: Foundation of Muinistan for Muslims of Rajistan (Cambridge: The Muinistan National Movement, 1943)
  • The Millat and her Minorities: Foundation of Siddiqistan for Muslims of Central India (Cambridge: The Siddiqistan National Movement, 1943)
  • The Millat and her Minorities: Foundation of Safiistan for Muslims of Western Ceylon (Cambridge: The Safiistan National Movement, 1943)
  • The Millat and her Minorities: Foundation of Nasaristan for Muslims of Eastern Ceylon (Cambridge: The Nasaristan National Movement, 1943)
  • The Millat and her Ten Nations: Foundation of the All-Dinia Milli Movement (Cambridge: The All-Dinia Milli Movement, 1944)
  • Dinia: The Seventh Continent of the World (Cambridge: Dinia Continental Movement, 1946)
  • India: The Continent of Dinia, or the Country of Doom (Cambridge: Dinia Continental Movement, 1946)
  • The Pakistan National Movement and the British Verdict on India (Cambridge: Pakistan National Movement, 1946)
  • Pakasia: The Historic Orbit of the Pak Culture (Cambridge: The Pakasia Cultural Movement, 1946)
  • Osmanistan: The Fatherland of the Osman Nation (Cambridge: The Osmanistan National Movement, 1946)
  • The Greatest Betrayal: How to Redeem the Millat? (Cambridge: Pakistan National Movement, 1947)
  • Pakistan: The Fatherland of the Pak Nation, (Cambridge: Pakistan National Liberation Movement, 1947)
  • The Muslim Minority in India and the Saving Duty of the U.N.O. (Cambridge: The All-Dinia Milli Liberation Movement, 1948)
  • The Muslim Minority in India and the Dinian Mission to the U.N.O. (Cambridge: The All-Dinia Milli Liberation Movement, 1949)
  • Pakistan or Pastan? Destiny or Disintegration? (Cambridge: The Pakistan National Liberation Movement, 1950)
  • Complete Works of Rahmat Ali, ed. Khursheed Kamal Aziz (Islamabad: National Commission on Historical and Cultural Research, 1978)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The branding of Jinnah is found in Ali's 1947 pamphlet titled The Greatest Betrayal, the Millat’s Martyrdom & The Muslim’s Duty. "Quisling" is an allusion to Vidkun Quisling, a Norwegian leader who ran a puppet regime under Nazis.[41] Rahmat Ali may have introduced this term into South Asian politics, which was later used by the prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan to brand the Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah.[42]


  1. ^ Aziz (1987).
  2. ^ Malik, Rashida (2003), Iqbal: The Spiritual Father of Pakistan, Sang-e-Meel Publications, ISBN 978-969-35-1371-4
  3. ^ ʻBilal, Safwan (1978), Complete Works of, National Commission on Historical and Cultural Research
  4. ^ "Death anniversary of Ch Rehmat Ali being observed 4 February 1951". Dunya News. 14 February 2008.
  5. ^ Kamran (2017), pp. 49–50.
  6. ^ a b Kamran (2017), pp. 87–88.
  7. ^ Aziz (1987), p. 28: "In the Gujjar caste his sub-caste or got was (Gorsi) ."
  8. ^ Rahi, Javaid (2012). The Gujjars Vol: 01 and 02 Edited by Dr. Javaid Rahi (Page_621). Jammu and Kashmir Acacademy of Art, Culture, Languages, Jammu. p. 621.
  9. ^ "All but Forgotten: Choudhary Rahmat Ali, the Inventor and First Champion of Pakistan". The Wire. Retrieved 17 May 2023. "When Now or Never was published, Ali was 36 years old. Born in a Gujjar Muslim family in Balachaur in the Hoshiarpur district of Punjab in 1897, Ali graduated from Islamia Madrassa, Lahore in 1918 and taught at Aitchison College, Lahore for a while before joining Punjab University to study law. It appears that after his legal studies he served as a legal adviser to a Baluchi landlord in which capacity he was able to save enough money and in 1930, move to England to join Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Subsequently, he obtained a BA degree in 1933 and MA in 1940 from the University of Cambridge. In 1943, he was called to the Bar, from Middle Temple, London.'
  10. ^ Paracha, Nadeem F. (21 July 2015). "Smokers' Corner: The map man". Dawn. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  11. ^ "Chaudhry Rehmat Ali remembered on his 125th birth anniversary". The Nation. 16 November 2022. Retrieved 17 May 2023. "Chaudhry Rehmat Ali was born in a Muslim Gujjar family in Hoshiarpur District of Indian Punjab on November 16, in 1897. He is credited with coming up with the name for a separate Muslim homeland in South Asia, PAKISTAN. After graduating from Islamia Madrassa, Lahore in 1918 he taught at Aitchison College before joining Punjab University (PU) to study law.'
  12. ^ a b Jalal, Self and Sovereignty (2002), pp. 392–393.
  13. ^ a b Ali, Choudhary Rahmat. "India: The Continent of DINIA or The Country of DOOM?". Archived from the original on 6 March 2012.
  14. ^ "Meeting with Miss Frost, Rahmat Ali's former secretary". Archived from the original on 16 March 2012.
  15. ^ Aziz (1987), p. 352: "As the word Pakistan was then being attributed to Rahmat Ali, Waheed asked Iqbal about the truth of the matter and received this answer: "When I was in London in 1930 [sic.] for attending the Round Table Conference, Chaudhri Rahmat Ali came to see me once and asked me by what name the government [sic.] (hakumat) established under my Allahabad scheme would be called. On this, I told him that if you take the first word [Sic.] (lafz) of each province in the northwest of India and the 'tan' of Baluchistan, you get a meaningful and nice word, Pakistan. That will be the name of the government."
  16. ^ Choudhary Rahmat Ali (1933). Now or Never; Are We to Live or Perish Forever?  – via Wikisource.
  17. ^ Choudhary Rahmat Ali; Mohd Aslam Khan; Sheikh Mohd Sadiq; Inayat Ullah Khan (28 January 1933), Now or Never; Are We to Live or Perish Forever?: "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 PAKSTAN [sic] – by which we mean the five Northern units of India, viz., Punjab, North-West Frontier Province (Afghan Province), Kashmir, Sindh and Baluchistan – for your sympathy and support in our grim and fateful struggle against political crucifixion and complete annihilation."
  18. ^ Wolpert, Stanley A. (1984). Jinnah of Pakistan. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-503412-0.
  19. ^ "Chaudhry Rehmat Ali". Story of Pakistan. June 2003.
  20. ^ Bianchini, Stefano; Chaturvedi, Sanjay; Ivekovic, Rada; Samaddar, Ranabir (2 August 2004). Partitions: Reshaping States and Minds. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-134-27653-0.
  21. ^ a b RahmatʻAli, Choudhary (1978) [first published 1947], Pakistan: The Fatherland of the Pak Nation, Book Traders
  22. ^ "A Handwara journalist gave Pakistan its name, research establishes". Kashmir Life. 25 March 2018. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  23. ^ "The Name Pakistan Was Coined By A Kashmiri Journalist And Not Choudhry Rahmat Ali, Says New Research". Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  24. ^ a b Kamran (2017), pp. 99–100.
  25. ^ Aziz (1987), p. 85.
  26. ^ "Now or Never; Are We to Live or Perish Forever?" Archived 19 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ Ali Usman Qasmi (2017). Muslims Against the Muslim League:Critiques of the Idea of Pakistan. Cambridge University Press. p. 93. ISBN 9781107166639.
  28. ^ A.R. Tariq (ed.), Speeches and Statements of Iqbal (Lahore: 1973),
  29. ^ Aziz (1987), pp. 351–362.
  30. ^ K. K. Aziz, Making of Pakistan (London: 1970), p. 81.
  31. ^ Verinder Grover (ed.), Muhammad Iqbal: Poet Thinker of Modern Muslim India Vol. 25 (New Delhi: Deep & Deep Publications, 1995), pp. 666–67.
  32. ^ Tara Chand, History of Freedom Movement in India Vol. III (New Delhi: 1972), p. 253.
  33. ^ lang, 23, 24 & 25 March 2003;[full citation needed] Also see, Safdar Mahmood, Iqbal, Jinnah aur Pakistan (Lahore: Khazina Ilm-was-Adab, 2004), pp. 52–69.
  34. ^ J.L. Nehru, Discovery of India (New York: 1946), p. 353.
  35. ^ Hiro, Dilip (2015), The Longest August: The Unflinching Rivalry Between India and Pakistan, PublicAffairs, pp. 69–, ISBN 978-1-56858-503-1
  36. ^ Bose, Madhuri (2015), The Bose Brothers and Indian Independence: An Insider's Account, SAGE Publications, pp. 38–, ISBN 978-93-5150-396-5
  37. ^ a b c "KARACHI: Learning from history". DAWN.COM. 17 August 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  38. ^ a b Jacobs, Frank (5 March 2014). "Purist Among the Pure: the Forgotten Inventor of Pakistan". Big Think. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  39. ^ Ikram, S.M. (1995), Indian Muslims and Partition of India, Atlantic Publishers & Dist, pp. 177–178, ISBN 978-81-7156-374-6
  40. ^ a b Aziz (1987), p. 469.
  41. ^ a b Kamran (2017), p. 82.
  42. ^ Das Gupta, Jyoti Bhusan (2012), Jammu and Kashmir, Springer, pp. 72–, ISBN 978-94-011-9231-6
  43. ^ Aziz (1987), pp. 303, 316.
  44. ^ Aziz (1987), pp. 340–345.
  45. ^ Emmanuel College Cambridge Archives
  46. ^ Karthik Venkatesh, All but forgotten: Choudhary Rahmat Ali, the inventor and first champion of Pakistan, Herald, 26 February 2018.


External links[edit]