Having given this background let me start by saying that Mian Sir
Fazli Hussain, who was an Education Minister in the dyarchy system
following the Montagu Chelmsford Reforms, was a very eminent Muslim.
During my experience of meeting politicians I would place him very
high because he had an extraordinarily good mind, and was a very
staunch nationalist as well as a very strong advocate of Muslim
rights. As Education Minister I remember attending a meeting of
the Punjab Legislative Council. The opposition brought a vote of
no confidence against Sir Fazli Hussain. He stood up to defend himself.
I very vividly remember, this was roundabout 1924 or 1925, by saying
that I am glad of the opportunity to defend my acts through this
vote of no-confidence which has been moved against me, so it gives
me an opportunity to tell this House what I have been doing as Minister
Before his time, the Muslims were backward in education. The enrollment
until then in all Government institutions was entirely through merit,
but he introduced a system where a certain percentage was reserved
for the Muslims who would be able to get into these Government institutions
not entirely through merit but also through a quota. Later on he
became a member of the Executive Council of the Viceroy and there
again he was a very powerful figure and he was able - in the Imperial
Services, which were the Indian Civil Service, Indian Accounts Service,
Indian Medical Service, Indian Postal Service, and Indian Railway
Service - in all these cases he introduced a quota system which
enabled the Muslims to get into these services. Otherwise to my
knowledge out of a few hundred Muslims who were members of the Indian
Civil Service I can think of only three or four who came just through
merit. The others came through the quota system which Mian Fazli
Hussain introduced. So when he retired from Government service after
his five years in the Executive Council, he came and settled down
in Lahore. He had a legal practice in Lahore and was a very good
lawyer. He also at one time became a member of the Indian National
Congress. He was a [an Indian] nationalist, there was no doubt about
that although he tried to promote and safeguard the interests of
the Indian Muslims.
He thought that the Punjab being an agriculturalists [farmers]
province, where the majority of Muslims was marginal, not more than
54% at that time, meant that you could not form a government purely
on a religious basis. That would not give you [a sufficient] majority.
So you had to coalesce with other members so as to form the government.
He thought a coalition would always be a weak Government so he started
the Unionist Party, that was the basis of the Unionist Party, which
he started - he was thinking probably earlier in 1935 - but he actually
came out with it in 1936. This was to safeguard the interests of
Muslims and particularly the agriculturalists class, which was largely
Muslim. Most of the agriculturists in the Punjab [were Muslim],
although there were also very large landowners [who were Muslim],
but barring four or five Muslim landowners, they were all indebted
He started it [the Unionist Party] in 1936. Unfortunately his health
had been very delicate from 1934 onwards, so when he launched it
in 1936 he was a sick man. He also wanted to ensure that the party
would continue and have a leader who was capable of taking this
party to the polls and making it a success. At that time Sir Sikander
Hayat Khan had been Revenue Minister after Mian Fazli Hussain left
for the Government of India. Being Senior Minister, Sir Sikander
had officiated as the first or second Indian Governor in the whole
of India [when the British Governor was temporarily absent]. So
he sent for Sir Sikander who was then Deputy Governor of the Reserve
Bank of India, which had started a year earlier. He called Sir Sikander
and told him that I know you have a higher salary and your position
is higher and you will probably be the first [Indian] Governor of
the Reserve Bank. But you owe something to Punjab, the province
from where you became all these things. It was the Punjab, which
promoted you as Revenue Member, as acting Governor of the province
and now as Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank. He showed him the
doctor's reports [on his own health]. So he got him to come back
[to Punjab]. After this conversation took place, Sir Fazli Hussain
passed away. So Sir Sikander who had decided to come back to the
Punjab at the end of 1936 came even earlier.
I again had a role to play with the Unionist Party. Sir Fazli Hussain
was a friend of my father. After completing my studies at Government
College [in Lahore in 1927] I wanted to go to Oxford or Cambridge
and then study for the Bar. My father and my uncle were partners
in the business and I being the eldest child, they did not want
me to go abroad as a student or even qualify as one [but rather]
be initiated in business to carry on because they were becoming
old. So I was deprived of that opportunity. Because of my father's
friendship with Sir Fazli Hussain, when I pressed both my uncle
and father finally they agreed [to] go and consult Sir Fazli Hussain.
So he asked me this question: why do you want to go and study Bar?
Will you practice law?
I said no Sir, I don't want to practice Law, but the Bar and legal
knowledge would give me the knowledge to be a good politician. So
he said that is not necessary. He said [when] I went to England
and qualified for the Bar, I had to practice. When I started my
practice in Sialkot, if I earned 100 Rupees, I thought I was doing
well in that time. It took me twenty-five years to establish myself
as a lawyer before the door opened for me in politics. If you are
a good businessman - and he named a few businessmen from Bombay
who were politicians - he said that if you are a good businessman,
then the doors can and also do open for you to enter politics.
[Later], when he started the Unionist Party he called for me and
said you wanted to enter politics, now this is your chance. I have
started this party and if you agree I will appoint you the Resident
Secretary. So I became the Resident Secretary of the Unionist Party.
When Sir Sikander came, he took over the leadership. The deputy
leader was Sir Chotu Ram, who was a [Hindu] Jat from Rohtak [district
in eastern Punjab].
Now the Hindu Jats were also agriculturists. Sikh Jats were agriculturists
and the Muslim majority was agriculturists. Now all these agriculturists
in the Punjab were somehow or the other indebted to the moneylender
and this moneylender was largely the Hindu, the non-Jat Hindu. And
as I mentioned, I will be repeating again that barring four or five
names and I can name those four or five who were not indebted, the
rest, even those who had incomes of two or three lakhs [hundred
thousand] a year, they were all indebted to the Hindu moneylender.
So the Unionists Party's main aim was to protect the agriculturist
community of the Punjab, whether they are Hindus, whether they are
Sikhs, whether they are Muslims. During the tenure of the Unionist
Party, which started in 1937, I was returned [in elections] from
district of Ferozpur where my grandfather started business. I became
a member of the Punjab Legislative Assembly in 1937 and was appointed
as the Private Secretary of the Premier of Punjab.