(I am) mountain when I stop; (I am)

beyond life when I walk

I have, (turned) every step on the path

of the beloved into a memorial

–Faiz Ahmed Faiz on Mian Iftikharuddin

 

Born in Baghbanpura in 1907, Mian Iftikharuddin was a prominent politician of the British India and later of Pakistan. He joined Congress in 1936 and left it in 1945 to join Muslim League. After the partition, he was offered ministry for rehabilitation of refugees in the provincial government of Punjab. However, he resigned in 1949 when his peasant friendly land reforms were rejected since they threatened the political and economic control of feudal lords in Punjab. He was also the only Muslim member in the parliament house who opposed the Objective Resolution in 1949 and chose to vote in its favor only when he was insured that the minorities will be protected under the resolution. As a result of his rampant criticism, he was expelled from Muslim League in 1951. Mian was a firm supporter of democratic values who criticized the imposition of martial law in Punjab during the riots of 1953 and proposed the idea of confederation to address the political, economic, cultural grievances of East Pakistan. Besides politics, he is also credited for launching the newspaper Pakistan Times, which, under the editorship of such prominent activists/writers as Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Mazhar Ali Khan, offered unparalleled journalistic services to the country until it was taken over by the dictatorship of General Ayub Khan in 1959. He died in 1962.

The state’s unabashed practice of curbing the economic, social, political rights of its citizens has continued to this day. We miss the honest, critical, just, empathetic, democratic voice of Mian Iftikharuddin more than ever today.