Domain Registration

Liaquat Ali Khan’s murder

  • July 03, 2017

First Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan’s address to US parliamentarians was included in the Punjab higher secondary school English text book. That was worth reading. The concluding part of the speech has its significance today as he espoused the cause of developing countries like Pakistan with dignity and honour. The US administration reportedly frowned at the Pakistani leader for his advocacy of independence, sovereignty and equal status in the comity of nations. What enraged them later was Liaquat Ali Khan’s refusal to allow use of Pakistani bases against Iran.

Who killed the popular premier? Was the US behind his murder? The question is still alive in minds of citizens of Rawalpindi-Islamabad and other metropolitans. Oil, Iran and air bases seem to be issues of recent times. Not indeed. It was about 66 years back that these issues were very much in play and a recently declassified document indicates that these were the reasons behind the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan on October 16, 1951. Like many other high-profile killings, the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan has also remained a mystery. Conspiracy theories abound, yet are difficult to substantiate.

Interestingly, according to a declassified document from the US State Department, a telegram was sent by the American Embassy in New Delhi on October 30, 1951.The telegram carried the summary of an article published in an Urdu daily of Bhopal, ‘Nadeem’ on October 24, 1951, charging the US with the responsibility of Liaquat Ali Khan’s death.

The summary then points to the facts in the article: “It was neither a local incident nor connected with the Pashtoonistan movement (as some may have believed then). It had behind it a deep-rooted conspiracy and recognisable hand.”

The article then says that the then Afghan government “knew about the conspiracy and the assassin was an Afghan, yet, the plot was hatched neither in Kabul nor in Karachi (the then capital of Pakistan).”

The document reveals that the day before assassination, the secretary to the American ambassador in Karachi absent-mindedly jotted down “holiday” for October 19 in a table diary and then immediately struck it off. Following the secretary’s departure, Mohammad Hussain, a Pakistani employee at the American Embassy in Karachi asked the secretary’s British clerk about the holiday. The clerk described it as a possible slip. “Mistake meaningful,” however, because “the secretary knew the embassy would be closed (on) October 17 (sic) although no American or Pakistani holiday was scheduled then to fall that day.

The American ambassador (in Karachi) offered condolences to Liaquat’s wife (Raana Liaquat Ali Khan) on the phone, some three and a half minutes before even the Governor General of Pakistan Khawaja Nazimuddin managed to offer his condolences.

This was despite the fact that the governor general was the first to be informed (of the killing) by the Rawalpindi authorities. Indeed with no mobile connection, no live transmissions, even no TV, those were different days and the flow of information was much slower than today.

The question that the article thus tried to raise was how did the American ambassador come to know of the assassination before the governor general of Pakistan found out? The article, as summarised by the declassified US document, then discussed the possible reason for the disenchantment of the US and the UK governments with the Pakistan prime minister and his government. Liaquat Ali Khan was not ready to toe the US line, and hence the US wanted him eliminated.

“While the UK was pressing Pakistan for support on the issue of Iran, the US demanded Pakistan use its influence in Tehran and persuade it to transfer control of its oil fields to the US (oil apparently has remained a major issue with the Americans ever since, especially while Mohammad Mosaddeq was in power in Tehran then).

Liaquat Ali Khan declined to accede to the request: Not only that, he also demanded that the US vacate air bases in Pakistan. And hence the plot to kill him was hatched. Common people say Liaquat Ali Khan’s murder is neither forgettable nor forgivable. They remember him as their leader because he didn’t tolerate any food price hike, profiteering, hoarding and socio-economic injustice to the lower people.

—  [email protected]

Article source:

Related News