Malik Barkat Ali — freedom fighter from Punjab


Malik Barkat Ali died on 5 April 1946, a year before creation of Pakistan, for which he had struggled all his life. At a special session of All India Muslim League held in 1946 attended by 470 elected Muslim members of provincial assemblies, Quaid-e-Azam paid glowing tributes to him: “I am deeply grieved to hear the very depressing and sad news of the sudden death of Malik Barkat Ali. He was from the very beginning a true and loyal member of the Muslim League, and on all occasions, he rendered the greatest service to Muslim India. His advice and staunch support on all occasions was of greatest value to the League and myself. Muslim India has lost in him a great man, and I have lost in him not only a colleague, a collaborator, but also a great friend. My deepest sympathies go out to his family in their bereavement for their irreparable loss.”.
Malik Barkat Ali was elected twice to Punjab Legislature on Muslim League ticket in 1937 and 1946. From 1937 to 1944 he alone represented Muslim League on floor of Punjab Legislature. After a distinguished academic career, he taught at FC College and briefly joined government service only to resign in 1914. He became editor of English weekly, “The Observer” and while there in 1916 he completed his legal studies gaining top position in LLB examination of Punjab University. In an editorial written on June 8, 1916 he wrote: “At the present time, when clouds are thickening over the horizon of Indian Muslims, it is essential that the President of the Muslim League, at the gathering at Lucknow must be possessed of the rare quality of courage. As we look around in search of Muslim leaders, we must confess that the personality of Mr Jinnah emerges as the most appropriate”. Malik Barkat Ali was very critical of Sir Michael O.Dwyer, Lt.governer of Punjab from 1913, who imposed censorship asking proprietors to sack him, but they chose to suspend publication.
He participated in Muslim League annual sessions held at Bombay, Aligarh and Delhi in 1924, 1925 and 1926. Barkat Ali was a close associate of Allama Iqbal, with whom he shared identical on major political issues. They both opposed Jinnah Sikandar pact, which till todate has cast a gloom over the unethical politics of Pakistan in general and Punjab in particular. According to this pact agreed in 1937 at Lucknow, all muslim members of Punjab Legislature were required to become members of Muslim League party in PLA. Unfortunately this was not done till after Sikandar Hayat’s death on 26 Dec 1942 and a tribal feud started between Tiwanas led by Khizar Hayat of Shahpur and Khattars of Attock that ultimately led to Khizar’s sacking from League in1944. This association between Allama Iqbal and Malik Barkat Ali continued Iqbal’s death in 1938. On 19 June 1930 Malik Barkat Ali and Allama Iqbal, jointly sponsored a resolution with Gokal Chand and Nanak in Lahore High Court Bar, condemning unfair trial of Bhagat Singh. Mr Jinnah came to Lahore on 29 April 1936, to organize the Punjab Provincial Election Board. He met Allama Iqbal at his residence on1 May 1936, who assured him of his whole hearted support for formation of a parliamentary board. On 8th May 1936, a joint press statement was issued by Allama Iqbal, Malik Barkat Ali, Khalifa Shujauddin and Pir Taj Din announcing support and cooperation to Jinnah.
The Punjab Muslim League session held on 12th May 1936 at Lahore elected Allama Iqbal as President, Malik Barkat Ali and Khalifa Shujauddin as Vice Presidents, Ghulam Rasool as Secretary and Ashiq Batalvi as joint Secretary. It was decided to make preparations for meeting of All-India Muslim League Council to be held in Lahore in June 36. He was amongst four members nominated by Quaid e Azam to prepare draft of Lahore Resolution on 21 March 1940. On 22 March 1940 the Quaid presented Lahore Resolution in an open session of the League held at Lahore, where he also informed the audience of a letter written by Lala Lajpat Rai to Bengals’s famous leader CR Das, where he stated that Hindus and Muslims are two different people who cannot be merged to form one nation. This resolution was proposed by Maulana Fazal ul Haq on 23 March 1940 and seconded by Ch Khaliquzaman and supported by Maulana Zafar Ali Khan from Punjab, Sardar Aurangzeb, from Sarhad, Abdullah Haroon from Sind, Abdul Hameed Khan from Madras, Abdul Rauf from CP, Ismail from Bombay, Ibrahim from Chundrigar and Nawab Ismail from Bihar. The Pakistan Resolution was adopted later at Madras Session of AIML in April 1941 and at Legislatures Convention at Delhi on 9 April 1946, where it was declared that Pakistan, a modern democratic welfare state will comprise of Punjab, Sind, Balochistan, Sarhad, Bengal and Assam. Unfortunately, we as a nation, have betrayed the vision of our founding fathers.

The writer is a grandson of Malik Barkat Ali