Syed Amjad Ali (1907-1997) led one of
the most interesting lives spanning the birth and early years
of the brand new state of Pakistan. Scion of a prominent Muslim
business family in the Punjab, he knew many of the main players
on all sides - Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and British - whose actions
precipitated the end of colonialism in the Indian subcontinent.
He was educated at St. Agnes Loreto
Convent in Lucknow, and then Muslim High School and Government
College in Lahore, from where he received his B. A. in 1927.
Soon thereafter he joined Middle Temple in London for legal
studies, and became Honorary Secretary of the Muslim delegations
at the Second Round Table Conference in London 1931. Two years
later he served in a similar capacity for the Indian delegation.
He was a member of the Punjab Legislative Assembly from 1937
until 1945, and in 1946 was a member of the Constituent Assembly
of India. During these years, Syed Amjad Ali worked closely
with two giants of pre-partition Punjab politics, Mian Fazli
Hussain and and Sir Sikander Hayat Khan.
After independence in 1947, he held numerous positions, including
Pakistan's Ambassador to the U.S. (1953-55), Finance Minister
of Pakistan (1955-58), and Pakistan's Permanent Representative
to the United Nations (1964-67). He was also the long time
Chairman of the U.N. Committee on Contributions (1967-1994),
and an elected member of the international Civil Service Commission
of the United Nations (1967-1992) which set the compensation
standards for international civil servants. He also worked
with his family to build some of Pakistan's leading industries,
and was a notable philanthropist.
importantly from the point-of-view of this oral archive, his
recollections of the road to Muslim independence reveal great
intelligence and insight. While many of his contemporaries
wrapped their memories in the dominant ideologies of the time,
he seems to have retained a cool analytical disposition. Syed
Amjad Ali died in 1997. He was interviewed at "Shadab", his
Canal Bank residence in Lahore, by Omar Khan on January 15,