Khawaja Nazimuddin

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Khawaja Nazimuddin
খাজা নাজিমুদ্দিন
خواجہ ناظِمُ الدّین
Nazimuddin in 1948
2nd Governor-General of Pakistan
In office
14 September 1948 – 17 October 1951
MonarchGeorge VI
Prime MinisterLiaquat Ali Khan
Preceded byMuhammad Ali Jinnah
Succeeded byMalik Ghulam Muhammad
2nd Prime Minister of Pakistan
In office
17 October 1951 – 17 April 1953
MonarchsGeorge VI
Elizabeth II
Governor GeneralSir Malik Ghulam Muhammad
Preceded byLiaquat Ali Khan
Succeeded byMohammad Ali Bogra
Chief Minister of East Bengal
In office
15 August 1947 – 14 September 1948
MonarchGeorge VI
Governor GeneralMuhammad Ali Jinnah
Prime MinisterLiaquat Ali Khan
GovernorSir Fredrick Chalmers Bourne
Preceded byHuseyn Suhrawardy (as Prime minister of Bengal)
Succeeded byNurul Amin
Prime Minister of Bengal
In office
29 April 1943 – 31 March 1945
MonarchGeorge VI
Governors General
GovernorRichard Casey, Baron Casey
Preceded byFazlul Haq
Succeeded byHuseyn Suhrawardy
President of Muslim League
In office
17 October 1951 – 17 April 1953
Preceded byLiaquat Ali Khan
Succeeded byMohammad Ali of Bogra
Personal details
Khawaja Nazimuddin

(1894-07-19)19 July 1894
Dacca, Bengal, British India
Died22 October 1964(1964-10-22) (aged 70)
Dacca, East Pakistan, Pakistan
Resting placeMausoleum of Three Leaders,
Dhaka, Bangladesh
CitizenshipBritish Indian (1894–1947)
Pakistani (1947–1964)
Political partyMuslim League (1947–1958)
Other political
All-India Muslim League
Pakistan Muslim League
SpouseShahbano Ashraf
RelationsKhwaja Shahabuddin (brother)
Alma materCambridge University (MA)
Aligarh Muslim University (BA)
ProfessionBarrister, politician

Sir Khawaja Nazimuddin[a] KCIE (19 July 1894 – 22 October 1964) was a Pakistani politician and statesman who served as the second governor-general of Pakistan from 1948 to 1951, and later as the second prime minister of Pakistan from 1951 to 1953. He was one of the leading founding fathers of Pakistan and the first Bengali to have governed Pakistan.

Born into an aristocratic Nawab family in Bengal in 1894, he was educated at the Aligarh Muslim University before pursuing his post-graduation studies at the Cambridge University. Upon returning, he embarked on his journey as a politician on the platform of All-India Muslim League. Initially, his political career revolved around advocating for educational reforms and development in Bengal. Later on he started supporting the cause for a separate Muslim homeland, rising to become the party's principal Bengali leader and a close associate of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. He served as Prime Minister of Bengal in British India from 1943 to 1945, and later as the 1st Chief Minister of East Bengal in independent Pakistan.

Nazimuddin ascended to Governor-General in 1948 after the death of Jinnah, before becoming Prime Minister in 1951 following the assassination of his predecessor, Liaquat Ali Khan.[1] His term was marked by constant power struggles with his own successor as Governor-General, Ghulam Muhammad, as law and order deteriorated amid the rise of the Bengali language movement and protests in his native Dhaka in 1952, and religious riots in Lahore a year later. The latter crisis saw the first instance of martial law, limited to the city, and led to Governor-General Ghulam Muhammad dismissing Nazimuddin on 17 April 1953.

Nazimuddin's ministry was the first federal government to be dismissed in Pakistan's history, though his former ministers Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar, Abdul Sattar Pirzada, and Mahmud Husain refused to take the oath of office in the new cabinet.[2] He retired from national politics, passing away after a brief illness in 1964. He is buried at the Mausoleum of Three Leaders in Dhaka.[3]


Family background, early life and education[edit]

Khawaja Nazimuddin was born into a wealthy Muslim family of the Nawabs of Dhaka on 19 July 1894 then under British Raj rule.[4][5][6][7] His father was Khwaja Nizamuddin and paternal grandfather was Khwaja Fakhruddin. His family hailed from Kashmir and was long settled in Dhaka.[8] He was the maternal grandson of Nawab Bahadur Sir Khwaja Ahsanullah and his mother, Nawabzadi Bilqis Banu, was notable for her own statue.[9] Nazimuddin had a younger brother, Khwaja Shahabuddin, who would later play a vital role in Pakistani politics.[10][9]: xxx  They were the first cousin of Nawab Khwaja Habibullah son of Nawab Sir Khwaja Salimullah Bahadur who helped laid foundation of Muslim League in 1906.[11][12][13][14] He grew up speaking Urdu.[15]

He was educated at the Dunstable Grammar School in England, but returned to British India following his matriculation where he enrolled to attend the MAO College of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in Uttar Pradesh, India.[16] Nazimuddin secured his graduation with a bachelor's degree in sociology from AMU[citation needed] and returned to England to pursue higher education.[17]

After AMU, Nazimuddin went to England. He attended Trinity Hall in the University of Cambridge, and earned a Master of Arts.[18] His training in England enabled him to practice law and become a Barrister-at-Law in England.[16] He was knighted in 1934.[19] In 1947–49, Nazimuddin was granted the degree of Doctor of Laws by the vice-chancellor of Dhaka University, Dr. Mahmud Hasan.[20]: 161 


Public service and independence movement[edit]

Nazimuddin returned to India to join his brother Khwaja Shahbuddin from England, taking interest in civil and public affairs that led him to join the Bengali politics.[21] Both brother joined the Muslim League, and Nazimuddin successfully ran for the municipality election and elected as Chairman of Dhaka Municipality from 1922 until 1929.[6] During this time, he was appointed as Education minister of Bengal. He remained minister of Education till 1934. Later he was appointed in Viceroy's Executive Council in 1934 which he served until 1937.[22] In the former capacity he successfully piloted the Compulsory Primary Education Bill; removing disparity that existed in education between the Hindus and the Muslims. As Minister for Agriculture in 1935, he piloted the Agriculture Debtors Bill and the Bengal Rural Development Bill which freed poor Muslim cultivators from the clutches of Hindu moneylenders.[23]

He participated in regional elections held in 1937 on a Muslim League's platform but conceded his defeat in favour of Fazlul Haq of Krishak Praja Part (KPP) who was appointed as Prime Minister of Bengal, while assuming his personal role as member of the legislative assembly.[24][25]: 69 

Home and Prime Minister of Bengal and Chief Minister of East Bengal[edit]

Upon the formation of the coalition government in an agreement facilitated between Muslim League and the Krishak Praja Party, Nazimuddin was appointed as the home minister under Haq's premiership., which he continued until 1943.[26]: 331 

Due to his conservative elite position, he became close associate of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, then-president of the Muslim League, who appointed him as a member of the executive committee to successfully promote Muslim League' party agenda and program that gained popularity in East Bengal.[26]: 332 [27] In 1940–41, Nazimuddin broke away from the coalition led by Premier Fazlul Haq and decided to become a leader of the opposition, leading campaign against Haq's premiership and primarily focused on Bengali nationalism issues.[26]: 332  In 1943, Nazimuddin took over the government from Premier Haq when the latter was dismissed by the Governor, John Herbert, amid controversies surrounding in his political campaigns.[28] During this time, Nazimuddin played a crucial political role for the cause for the separate Muslim homeland, Pakistan.[26]: 332 

His premiership lasted until 1945 when a motion of no confidence and faced with defeat in the assembly hall by 160 to 97 votes that effectively ended his premiership.[29]: 106  He relinquished the office to Nausher Ali, an Indian nationalist Muslim and a prominent member of Congress Party who the speaker of the assembly, but the administration was taken over by Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy.[29]: 106 

From 1945 to 1947, Nazimuddin continued to be served as the chairman of the Muslim League in Bengal, ardently supporting the political cause for Pakistan against the Congress Party.[26]: 333  This despite Nazimuddin and other Muslim League leaders not having thought through the consequences of the Pakistan Movement. As late as February 1947, Governor of Punjab Sir Evan Jenkins reported that Nazimuddin said "he did not know what Pakistan means and that nobody in the Muslim League knew."[30] During this time, Nazimuddin had been in conflict with Premier Suhrawardy and strongly opposed the United Bengal Movement. The conflict between two men mainly existed because Suhrawardy represented the middle class while Nazimuddin was representing the aristocracy.[31]

In 1947, he again contested in the party elections in the Muslim League against Suhrawardy's platform and securing his nomination as the party chairman for the Muslim League's East Bengal chapter.[32]: 49–50  His success in the party election eventually led him to the appointed as the first Chief Minister of East Bengal after the Partition of India in 1947 and effectively gained controlled of the Muslim League in the province.[32]: 50 

As the Chief Minister, he led the motion of confidence that ultimately voted in favour of joining the Federation of Pakistan and reorganized the Government of East Pakistan by delegating conservative members in his administration.[32]: 49–50 

Governor-General of Pakistan (1948–51)[edit]

On 14 August of 1947, Governor-General Muhammad Ali Jinnah relinquished the party presidency of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) to Sir Khwaja Nazimuddin who took over the party of the President of Pakistan Muslim League (PML), due to his party electoral performance.[32]: 50–51  After the death of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Nazimuddin was appointed acting governor-general. at the urging of Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, on 14 September 1948.[33] His oath of office was supervised by Chief Justice Sir Abdul Rashid of the Federal Court of Pakistan, with Liaquat Ali Khan in attendance.[6]

As Governor-General, Nazimuddin set a precedent of neutrality and non-interference in the government, and provided his political support to Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan's government, which was seen as essential to the working of the responsible government at that time.[34]

In 1949, Governor-General Nazimuddin established the parliamentary committee, the Basic Principles Committee, on the advice of Prime Minister Ali Khan to underlying basic principles that would lay foundation of Constitution of Pakistan.[35]

Prime Ministership (1951–53)[edit]

Khawaja Nazimuddin, with M.G. Muhammad in New York City, 1946.

After the assassination of Liaqat Ali Khan in 1951, the Muslim League leaders asked Governor-General Nazimuddin to take over the business of the government as well as the party's presidency as there was no other person found suitable for the post.[36][6]: 233  He appointed Finance Minister Sir Malik Ghulam to the Governor-General's post.[6] Nazimuddin's government focused towards promoting the political programs aimed towards conservative ideas.[37] During his time in office, a framework was begun for a constitution that would allow Pakistan to become a republic within the Commonwealth, and end its British Dominion status under the Crown.

Nazimuddin's administration took place during a poor economy and the rise of provincial nationalism in four provinces and East Bengal which made him unable to run the country's affairs effectively.[38]: 121–122  By 1951–52, the Muslim League had split into two different factions dominated by the Bengali chapter and Punjab-Sindh chapter, as those were the two largest ethnic demographics, but were separated by India.[36]: 235 

In 1951, Prime Minister Nazimuddin's government conducted the country's first nationwide census where it was noted that 57% of the population of Karachi were refugees from India, which further complicated the situation in the country.[39]

In January 1952, Prime Minister Nazimuddin publicly announced in Dacca's meeting that: Jinnah had been right: for the sake of Pakistan's national unity, Urdu must be the official language of Pakistan–East and West.[40]: 153  On 21 February 1952, a demonstration in the Bengali Language movement demanding equal and official status to the Bengali language turned bloody, with many fatalities caused by police firings.[41] This demonstration was held when he declared Urdu the National Language of Pakistan, following the previous statement of Muhammad Ali Jinnah that Urdu shall be 'one and only' language of Pakistan.[42]

In 1953, a violent religious movement led by far-right Jamaat-e-Islami began to agitate for the removal of the Ahmadi religious minority from power positions, and demanded a declaration of this minority as non-Muslims.[43]: 60 

Nazimuddin was held morally responsible for riots being spread and resisted such pressures;[43]: 60  but mass rioting broke out in Punjab against both the government and followers of this religious minority.[43]: 60–61  To quell the unrest, Nazimuddin declared martial law in Punjab.[44] Major General Azam Khan was made Chief Martial Law Administrator and brought Lahore under control within a couple of days.[45] Nazimuddin forced out the Chief Minister of Punjab, Mumtaz Daultana, and replaced him with Feroz Khan Noon.[46]


The agitations and violence spread through the successful Bengali language movement and the riots in Lahore proved the inability of Nazimuddin's government as he was widely seen as weak in running the government administration.[47]: 288 

In a view of attempting to improve the economy and internal security, Malik Ghulam asked Prime Minister Nazimuddin to step down in the wider interest of the country.[47]: 289  Nazimuddin refused to oblige and Malik Ghulam used reserve powers granted in the Government of India Act 1935, dismissed Nazimuddin.[47]: 289 

Nazimuddin then requested the Federal Court of Pakistan's intervention against this action but the Chief Justice, Muhammad Munir did not rule on the legality of the dismissal, but instead forced new elections to be held in 1954.[48] Malik Ghulam appointed another Bengali politician, Muhammad Ali Bogra who was then tenuring as the Pakistan ambassador to the United States, as the new prime minister until the new elections to be held in 1954.[47]: 289 

Death and legacy[edit]

Later life and death[edit]

Mausoleum of three leaders at Dhaka

Even after his dismissal, he and his family remained active in parliamentary politics; his nephew, Khwaja Wasiuddin, an army general serving as GOC-in-C II Corps and later repatriated to Bangladesh in 1974.

His younger brother, Shahabuddin, remained active in politics and eventually ascended as Information minister in the President Ayub Khan's administration.[49]: 559 

Sir Khwaja died in 1964, aged 70. He was buried in the Mausoleum of three leaders in his hometown of Dhaka.[50]

Wealth and honours[edit]

Nazimuddin and his brother, Shahabuddin, belonged to an aristocratic family who were known for their wealth. In a thesis written by Joya Chatterji, Nazimuddin was described for unquestionable loyalty to the British administration in India:

Short statured with a bulging pear-like figure, he was known for his insatiable appetite and his unfailing submission to the ... Britishers ... Dressed in British-styled Sherwani and breechers-like Churidar pajamas with a Fez cap and wearing little shoes, he carried a... cane of knob and represented an age and tradition.

— Joya Chatterji, Bengal Divided: Hindu Communalism and Partition [22]: 80 

By 1934, the family had estates that covered almost 200,000 acres and was well spread over different districts of Eastern Bengal, together with properties in Shillong, Assam and Kolkata, had a yearly rent of £120,000 ($2,736,497.94 in 2017).[22]: 80  By the 1960s, the majority of estate was relocated from East Pakistan to the different areas of Pakistan, leaving very little of his estate in East.[22]: 80 

He was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire (CIE) in 1926, and was knighted in the 1934 King's Birthday Honours by the King-Emperor, George V, when he was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire (KCIE).[51]

In 1958, he was awarded the highest civilian award titled Nishan-e-Pakistan. Later by the Government of Pakistan, Nazimuddin has been honoured from time to time after his death. In Karachi, the residential areas, Nazimabad and North Nazimabad in suburbs of Karachi, had been named after his name. In Islamabad, there is a road intersection, Nazimuddin Road, that has been named in his honour; while in Dhaka, there is also a road after his namesake.[citation needed]

Commemorative postage stamp[edit]

In his honour, the Pakistan Post issued a commemorative stamp in its 'Pioneers of Freedom' series in 1990.[52][53]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bengali: খাজা নাজিমুদ্দীন; Urdu: خواجہ ناظِمُ الدّین


  1. ^ "Khawaja Nazimuddin profile". website. Archived from the original on 21 January 2018. Retrieved 1 September 2023.
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  3. ^ "In Memory of the Three Leaders". 12 August 2016. Archived from the original on 14 October 2018. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  4. ^ "The Official website of the Dhaka Nawab Family: Biographies". Archived from the original on 7 March 2013. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  5. ^ Lentz, Harris M (1993) [1994]. "Islamic Republic of Pakistan: Heads of State". Heads of States and Governments. Routledge. p. 605. ISBN 978-1-134-26497-1. Retrieved 27 November 2023.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Khwaja Nazimuddin". Story of Pakistan website. June 2003. Archived from the original on 3 February 2013. Retrieved 1 September 2023.
  7. ^ Oberst, Robert C.; Malik, Yogendra K.; Kennedy, Charles; Kapur, Ashok; Lawoti, Mahendra; Rahman, Syedur; Ahmad, Ahrar (2014). "The National Elites of Pakistan" (googlebooks). Government and Politics in South Asia (1 ed.). Boulder, CO, U.S: Avalon Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8133-4880-3. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  8. ^ Craig Baxter (1991). Government and politics in South Asia. Westview Press. p. 250. ISBN 978-0-8133-7905-0. Nazimuddin, a member of the wealthy landed nawab of Dhaka family, was related to an earlier nawab whose palace was the site of the founding of the Muslim League in 1906. The family is Kashmiri in origin, often associated with British rule, Urdu-speaking at home, rarely politically fluent in Bengali, and part of the national elite.
  9. ^ a b Sobhan, Rehman (2016). Untranquil Recollections: The Years of Fulfilment. SAGE Publications. pp. 24–. ISBN 978-93-5150-320-0.
  10. ^ Hamid, S. Shahid (1986). Disastrous Twilight: A Personal Record of the Partition of india (2nd ed.). Leo Cooper. p. 76. ISBN 978-0-85052-396-6. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  11. ^ Chatterji, Joya (2002) [1994]. Bengal Divided: Hindu Communalism and Partition, 1932–1947. Cambridge University Press. pp. 80–81. ISBN 978-0-521-52328-8.
  12. ^ Sundararajan, Saroja (2010). Kashmir Crisis: Unholy Anglo-Pak Nexus. Delhi: Kalpaz Publications. pp. 375–. ISBN 978-81-7835-808-6.
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  16. ^ a b Excerpts I. 1949. Archived from the original on 17 February 2023. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
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  18. ^ Rothe, Anna, ed. (1950). Current Biography: Who's News and Why, 1949. The H. W. Wilson Company. p. 449. OCLC 03851870.
  19. ^ Watt, Andrew. "9 celebrities you might not know have a connection with Dunstable". Luton on Sunday. Archived from the original on 13 October 2015. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
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  23. ^ Pakistan: industry, agriculture, commerce. London: British Industries Fair. 1949. Archived from the original on 31 October 2022. Retrieved 31 October 2022.
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  25. ^ : 219 Shibly, Atful Hye (2011). Abdul Matin Chaudhury (1895–1948): trusted lieutenant of Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Dhaka: Juned A. Choudhury. p. 69. ISBN 978-984-33-2323-1.
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  • Current Events Biography, 1949

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Prime Minister of Bengal
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chief Minister of East Bengal
Succeeded by
Preceded by Governor-General of Pakistan
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of Pakistan
Succeeded by
Minister of Defence