Sikandar Hayat Khan

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Khan Bahadur Captain Sir
Sikandar Hayat Khan
Premier of the Punjab
In office
5 April 1937 – 26 December 1942
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byMalik Khizar Hayat Tiwana
Governor of the Punjab
In office
19 July 1932 – 19 October 1932
Preceded bySir Geoffrey Fitzhervey de Montmorency
Succeeded bySir Geoffrey Fitzhervey de Montmorency
In office
15 February 1934 – 9 June 1934
Preceded bySir Herbert Emerson
Succeeded bySir Herbert Emerson
2nd President of BCCI
In office
Preceded byR. E. Grant Govan
Succeeded byHamidullah Khan
Personal details
Born(1892-06-05)5 June 1892
Multan, Punjab, British India
Died26 December 1942(1942-12-26) (aged 50)
Lahore, Punjab, British India
Political partyUnionist Party
Alma materPunjab University
Military service
Allegiance British India
Branch/service British Indian Army
Years of service1916–1920
Unit67th Punjabis
Battles/warsWorld War I
Third Anglo-Afghan War

Khan Bahadur Captain Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan, KBE (5 June 1892 – 26 December 1942), also written Sikandar Hyat-Khan or Sikandar Hyat Khan, was an Indian politician and statesman from the Punjab who served as the Premier of the Punjab, among other positions.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Sikandar Hayat Khan was born in Multan, Punjab, British Raj in a Punjabi Khattar family.[3][4][1] His father was Nawab Muhammad Hayat Khan, a civil servant and close associate of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, and his grandfather was Sardar Karam Khan, who died in battle fighting for the British against the Sikhs in the Second Anglo-Sikh War.[5]

He was educated at Oriental Collegiate High School in Aligarh and later at Aligarh Muslim University, and was sent to study medicine at King's College London in the United Kingdom but was recalled home by his family circa 1915.[6][1]

During the First World War, he initially worked as a War Recruitment Officer in his native Attock District[7] and later served as one of the first Indian officers to receive the King's Commission, with the 2/67th Punjabis (later the 1/2nd Punjab Regiment) where he was sent to the Western Front in France.[8][9] As a result of his distinguished services in the Great War and later, the Third Afghan War, he was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire, Military Division (MBE, Mil.) by the Government of British India.[10][11]

After 1920, Khan turned his talents to business and by dint of his financial acumen and managerial skills, soon became a director or managing director of several companies, including the Wah Tea Estate, The Amritsar-Kasur Railway Company, The People's Bank of Northern India, The Sialkot-Narowal Railway, The ACC Wah Portland Cement Company, the Wah Stone and Lime Company, Messrs. Owen Roberts, the Punjab Sugar Corporation Ltd, Messrs. Walter Locke & Co, The Lahore Electricity Supply Co and many others.[12][1] He also entered grassroots politics at this time, and remained an honorary magistrate and Chairman of the Attock District Board.

Later, for a brief while he also remained the acting deputy-governor of the newly established Reserve Bank of India in 1935,[13] prior to returning to take on party leadership in the Punjab in 1936.

Later life and career[edit]

In 1921, Khan was elected to the Punjab Legislative Council and his effective political role now began, as he became one of the main leaders of the Punjab Unionist Party[14](later known as the Unionist Party), an all-Punjab political party formed to represent the interests of the landed gentry and landlords of Punjab which included Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus.[1]

After an outstanding period of political enterprise between 1924 and 1934,[15][16] he was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, Civil Division (KBE) in the 1933 New Year Honours list.[17][18] he in due course took over leadership of the Unionist Party from Sir Fazli Husein. Khan led his party to victory in the 1937 elections, held under the Government of India Act 1935 and then governed the Punjab as premier in coalition with the Sikh Akali Dal and the Indian National Congress. When Khan was the Unionist Premier, he extended the offer of Parliamentary Secretaryship to Ghazanfar Ali Khan, who became a strong backer of the Unionist Party in the assembly.[19] This government carried out many reforms for the better of the Punjabi Zamindar or agrarian community. When Indian farmers faced a crash of agricultural prices and economic distress in the late 1930s, Khan took further measures to alleviate their misery in the Punjab [20] – similar steps were also taken by A K Fazlul Huq, the premier of Bengal, in working to relieve the Bengali peasantry from crippling debts to private sources, using both legal and administrative measures.[21][1]

Khan opposed the Quit India Movement of 1942,[22] and supported the Allied powers during World War II. Khan believed in co-operating politically with the British for the independence of India and the unity of Punjab.[23]

In 1937, soon after winning the general elections, confronted by internal pressure from many of his Muslim parliamentary colleagues and conscious of the need to maintain a balanced, equitable stance in a volatile and much-divided Punjabi political milieu,[24] Khan decided to also negotiate with the Muslim elements under the leadership of Muhammad Ali Jinnah.[25][26]

Khan and Jinnah signed the Jinnah-Sikandar Pact at Lucknow in October 1937,[1] merging the Muslim elements of his powerful Unionist force with the All India Muslim League, as a move towards reconciling the various Muslim elements in the Punjab and elsewhere in India, towards a common, united front for safeguarding their community rights and interests.[27] Within the agreement, Khan announced he was "advising all the Muslim members of the Unionist Party in Punjab to join the League."[2][28] Later, he was also one of the chief supporters and architects of the Lahore Resolution of March 1940, calling for an autonomous or semi-independent Muslim majority region within the larger Indian confederation.[2][29] Sikandar Hayat Khan, however, opposed the partition of India and condemned "any reference to the 'Lahore Resolution' as the 'Pakistan Resolution'."[30][31] To Khan, the "partition meant disrupting the Punjab and the Unionist Party, and he was not prepared to accept this".[31]

Khan's final days as Punjab's premier were extremely troublesome and marred by controversies and bitterness:[32] since 1940 the Khaksars had been constantly giving trouble; he was having a rough time within the Muslim League with Malik Barkat Ali and others; and in the Legislative Assembly Bhai Parmanand and Master Tara Singh were questioning his increasingly inconsistent stance over Pakistan and Punjabi unity.[33] Khan's legacy was challenged when Malik Khizar Hyat refused to comply with League demands in 1944, leading Jinnah to repeal the Sikandar-Jinnah Pact from 1937.[34] Trying to yoke together an impossible 'political mosaic'[35] took a drastic toll on Khan's health, probably resulting in his early fatality. In a letter from Viceroy Linlithgow to Sir Leo Amery dated two days after Khan's death, the Viceroy offered a lengthy personal evaluation of Khan:

The real tragedy of the last couple days has been the sudden death of Sikandar. He had his faults, as you and I well know. He was a rather difficult person to rely on in a really tight corner, and on more than one occasion he had caused me serious embarrassment. But he had a really remarkable record of achievement, and his services both to the Punjab and to India were very great indeed... I always felt... that he had an extremely difficult hand to play in the Punjab and that was the most probable explanation of his apparent weakness. He has with great skill for a number of years kept together a delicate political mosaic and I am by no means [untroubled] as I write at the thought of what may happen, for Sikandar was well-known to be very non-communal in temper and outlook, and he had conciliated a far greater degree of general support in that most important Province than anyone whom I can think of as a possible successor is likely to manage to do.[36]

Khan died on the night between 25/26 December 1942, of a sudden heart failure, at his home.[1] He is buried at the footsteps of the Badshahi Masjid in Lahore.[37][38][1]


Among Khan's children, the following attained noteworthy public status:

  • Begum Mahmooda Salim Khan, Pakistan's first woman minister
  • Shaukat Hayat Khan, senior Muslim League leader and political figure.Remained MNA in the 1970s Assembly and as a opposition MNA played an important role for the drafting and approval of 1973s Pakistan constitution.
  • Tahira Mazhar Ali, socialist leader and public activist
  • Izzet Hayat Khan, businessman and former Pakistani ambassador to Tunisia
  • Ghairat Hayat Khan administrator, philanthropist and Member of Majlis e Shura, Pakistan[citation needed]

Among his grandchildren are Tariq Ali, the British-Pakistani socialist writer and Yawar Hayat Khan, former senior director/producer of PTV (Pakistan Television); among his great-grandchildren is the noted Pakistani poet and scholar Omer Tarin.[39] Sardar Sikandar Hayat, grandson of Sir Sikandar Hayat and eldest son of Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan participated actively in constituent politics and remained MPA twice from Fatehjang (Attock) and also served as provincial minister.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Profile of Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan". Story Of Pakistan website. 1 January 2007. Archived from the original on 22 October 2018. Retrieved 16 January 2023.
  2. ^ a b c M. Tauqir Alam (29 March 2023). "The Resolution Of March 23, 1940: One Document Two Nations". The Friday Times newspaper. Archived from the original on 21 February 2024. Retrieved 21 February 2024.
  3. ^ Charles Allen, Soldier-Sahibs, London, 2000, p. 166
  4. ^ See Sir Sikander Hyat Khan: The Soldier-Statesman of the Punjab, A Special Memorial Volume, Lahore: Government of the Punjab, 1943, pp. 10–12.
  5. ^ Talbot, Ian (1988). Punjab and the Raj, 1849–1947. Riverdale Company. ISBN 0913215287.
  6. ^ See Sir Sikander Hyat Khan: The Soldier-Statesman of the Punjab, A Special Memorial Volume, Lahore: Government of the Punjab, 1943, pp. 10–12.
  7. ^ Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan: The Soldier-Statesman of the Punjab, p. 31.
  8. ^ See Field-Marshal Sir Archibald Percival Wavell, later Lord Wavell, in Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan: The Soldier-Statesman of the Punjab, pp. 33–34.
  9. ^ During World War 2, when serving as the Premier of the Punjab, Khan was given an honorary rank of Lieutenant-Colonel but this only temporary and in no way indicated actual military rank. See Wavell, above, p 34
  10. ^ "No. 32001". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 July 1920. p. 8051.
  11. ^ See 'The Handbook of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire', 1921 ed
  12. ^ Dr. Iftikhar H. Malik, "Sir Sikandar Hayat: A Political Biography", Islamabad: NIHCR, 1985, p. 12.
  13. ^ He was also a member of its first Central board of directors, when the RBI was established in April 1935 on the recommendations of the Hilton-Young Commission of 1925–26. See the History section of the Official Website of the RBI Archived 19 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Mittal, S. C. (1986). Haryana: A historical perspective. Atlantic Publishers & Distributors. p. 133. ISBN 81-7156-083-0.
  15. ^ During which time he was also the first Indian native to have the unique distinction of being twice appointed as acting governor of the Punjab, in 1932 and then again in 1933–34.
  16. ^ Dr. Iftikhar H. Malik, pp. 41–46 for details
  17. ^ "No. 33898". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 1932. p. 11.
  18. ^ also see Prof. Lajpat Nair, Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan: Politics, Paper, Proceedings of the Institute for Current Affairs, Lahore, October 1943.
  19. ^ Gilmartin, David (1 January 1979). "Religious Leadership and the Pakistan Movement in the Punjab". Modern Asian Studies. 13 (3): 485–517. doi:10.1017/s0026749x00007228. JSTOR 312311. S2CID 144573384.
  20. ^ Inspired by the earlier example of his late father Nawab Muhammad Hayat Khan, who had played an instrumental role in helping the Punjab peasantry out of debt during the 1890s; see IH Malik, Sir Sikandar: A Political Biography aa
  21. ^ Bandyopadhyay, D. (1 January 2004). "Preventable Deaths". Economic and Political Weekly. 39 (30): 3347–3348. JSTOR 4415309.
  22. ^ Ahmad, Syed Nesar (1991). Origins of Muslim Consciousness in India: a world-system perspective. Greenwood Press. p. 179. ISBN 0-313-27331-6.
  23. ^ Ahmad, aa
  24. ^ According to the first-hand account of Sir Penderel Moon, who was then serving under Khan as a British Indian Civil Service officer, in discussions in 1937 and 1938, Khan explained to him the vital need for (a) maintaining the unity and integrity of the Punjab as a whole, and (b) at the same time striking a 'fine balance' in ensuring the rights of all Punjabi communities and communal factions; and he opined that rather than let things slide into anarchy and chaos, he would try his level best to do his 'utmost' to keep talking and making necessary concessions to all sides. While well-intentioned, this was probably attempting too much in circumstances that were inevitably headed towards divisiveness and beyond his control. See Moon, Divide and Quit, London: Chatto & Windus, 1962, pp. 19–20.
  25. ^ See Syed Amjad Ali, Memoirs, Lahore, 1985, p 278: the author said that 'Thanks to the agreement reached between Jinnah and Sir Sikandar in Lucknow, the dream of Pakistan became real. All Pakistanis today should be thankful to these two great Muslim leaders and their wisdom', 192 ; and Wolpert 1999, aa, where Wolpert states that 'The Punjab was more than just a bare Muslim majority [like Bengal] ; the Punjab meant Pakistan, made Pakistan possible', pp 150–51
  26. ^ Heeger, Gerald A. (1 January 1972). "The Growth of the Congress Movement in Punjab, 1920–1940". The Journal of Asian Studies. 32 (1): 39–51. doi:10.2307/2053177. JSTOR 2053177. S2CID 154447365.
  27. ^ Stanley Wolpert, Jinnah of Pakistan, Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1999, pp. 150–151. ISBN 0-19-577389-6
  28. ^ Heeger, Gerald A. (1 January 1972). "The Growth of the Congress Movement in Punjab, 1920–1940". The Journal of Asian Studies. 32 (1): 39–51. doi:10.2307/2053177. JSTOR 2053177. S2CID 154447365.
  29. ^ Syed Amjad Ali, aa; and IH Malik, aa
  30. ^ Mansingh, Surjit (2006). Historical Dictionary of India. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 9780810865020. Both Sikandar Hayat Khan and his successor, Khizr Hayat Khan Tiwana, vehemently opposed the idea Partition when it was mooted in the early 1940s, partly because as Punjabi Muslims they did not agree with Jinnah on the need for a Pakistan and largely because the thought of partitioning Punjab, as an inevitable consequence, was so painful.
  31. ^ a b Malik, Iftikhar Haider (1985). Sikandar Hayat Khan (1892–1942): a political biography. National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research. p. 17.
  32. ^ Mansergh and Lumby (eds), Transfer of Power Documents, London, 1971, Vol. III, p. 431.
  33. ^ Detailed review in the Civil and Military Gazette newspaper, 8 and 10 November 1942.
  34. ^ Gilmartin, David (1 January 1979). "Religious Leadership and the Pakistan Movement in the Punjab". Modern Asian Studies. 13 (3): 485–517. doi:10.1017/s0026749x00007228. JSTOR 312311. S2CID 144573384.
  35. ^ Letter, Lord Linlithgow to Sir Leo Amery, 28 December 1942, British Library/IOR, Accession No. L/1/1/1427
  36. ^ Letter, Lord Linlithgow to Sir Leo Amery, 28 December 1942.Mansergh and Lumby (eds), Transfer of Power Documents, London, 1971, Vol. III, p. 431.
  37. ^ Dr Iftikhar H. Malik, Sir Sikandar Hayat: A Political Biography, p. 97. Also see Omer Tarin, 'Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan and the Restoration of the Badshahi Mosque, Lahore', PHS digest, 1995, Vol2, pp 21–29
  38. ^ Sir Sikandar Hayat's grave victim of neglect Dawn (newspaper), Published 14 December 2010, Retrieved 7 July 2020
  39. ^ Ilyas Khan (November 2011). "Interview of poet Omer Tarin". website. Retrieved 7 July 2020.