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Remembering Choudhary Rehmat Ali: The architect of Pakistan National Movement

Pakistan was just four-year-old when one of its revolutionary leader and a spearhead figure behind Pakistan National Movement passed away, leaving behind a legacy of immense struggle for a separate Muslim state. It was none other than Choudhary Rehmat Ali.

The inventor of the word ‘Pakistan’ and a catalyst to reinforce idea of having a separate state for Muslims, Choudhary Rehmat Ali was born in November 1895, in a Muslim Gujjar family in Hoshiarpur District of Punjab.

Soon after completing his early education, he joined the Islamia College of Lahore, after his graduation in 1918. He initially taught at Aitcheson College Lahore and later joined University of Punjab to study law. In 1930, he moved England to join Emmanuel College Cambridge. He obtained a BA degree in 1933 and MA in 1940 from the University of Cambridge. In 1943, he was called to the Bar, Middle Temple Inn, London. Rehmat Ali finished his MA and LLB in England with honours from the universities of Cambridge and Dublin.

It was during the years 1930 through 1933, that he formed the Pakistan National Movement, with its headquarters at Cambridge. Until 1947, he continued publishing various booklets about his vision for South Asia. On January 28, 1933, he issued his first memorable pamphlet “Now or Never; Are we to live or perish forever?” The pamphlet gave reasons for the establishment of Pakistan as a separate nation coining the word Pakistan for the first time.

The famous 1933 pamphlet, also known as the Pakistan Declaration, started with a famous statement:

“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 PAKISTAN – by which we mean the five Northern units of India, Viz: Punjab, North-West Frontier Province (Afghan Province), Kashmir, Sind and Baluchistan. And we ask for your sympathy and support in our grim and fateful struggle against political crucifixion and national annihilation.”

Choudhry Rahmat Ali publicized the scheme of Pakistan with a missionary zeal since its inception in 1933. In August 1947, Pakistan came into being and in 1948 Ali visited Pakistan. Later he proceeded to England to champion the cause of Kashmir through the United Nations. He died on February 12, 1951 due to prolonged illness.

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