Who was Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan

In 1947, when the British effected the partition of the sub-continent, future of princely states became a complex issue to settle. Jammu and Kashmir was one such state,

GK News Network
Muzaffarabad, Publish Date: Jul 10 2015 11:31PM | Updated Date: Jul 11 2015 1:55AM
Who was Sardar Abdul Qayyum KhanFile Photo

A militarist in the beginning but pacifist later, Sardar Muhammad Abdul Qayyum Khan, was a blend of paradoxes.

Widely regarded as an authentic public figure and an astute politician, he was born on April 4, 1924 at Ghaziabad, a small village of present Bagh district in Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK).

Khan began his professional life as an engineer in a corps of the British Indian army after completion of secondary education. It helped him gain experience and knowledge about military organisational affairs until he was laid off in 1946 like other non-combatant personnel employed from undivided India. Back home, he was employed as a clerk in the soldier board of the Jammu Kashmir government. He was sacked from there after a year or so on a complaint by Subedar Feroz Khan.

In 1947, when the British effected the partition of the sub-continent, future of princely states became a complex issue to settle. Jammu and Kashmir was one such state, where almost 85 per cent population was Muslim but the ruler was a Hindu Dogra – Maharaja Hari Singh. The anxiety of Muslim population, whose vast majority wanted accession of their motherland to yet to be created state of Pakistan, was growing. To mount pressure on Maharaja, Kashmiri Muslims in different parts of the erstwhile princely state were organizing and carrying out different kinds of revolt-related activities.

One such activity was holding of a big gathering at hilltops of Neela Butt, whose participants included 23-year old gun-wielding Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan.

Later, when the participants were on their way to Bagh, they confronted with Dogra police where Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan is said to have fired the first gunshot, earning him the name of ‘Mujahid-e-Awwal’ (first freedom fighter). Some historians have recognized Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan as “first initiator of Kashmir freedom movement”, though his contemporaries like Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan and legendary K H Khurshid didn’t subscribe to this contention.

After the liberation of PaK territory and ceasefire under the UNCIP resolutions, Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan moved to Rawalpindi and started taking interest in Pakistani politics. Inspired by socialist leader Mian Iftikhar, he also launched ‘Azad Kashmir Party.’

However, in 1951, he switched back to PaK and started his political career from the platform of All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference.

From that day onwards, he remained religiously associated with this party till his last breath.

On this side of the divide, Muslim Conference was the lone political party until 1962 when K. H. Khurshid founded Jammu Kashmir Liberation League (JKLL), which called for recognition of the PaK government as a ‘revolutionary provisional successor government’ of deposed Dogra ruler of Jammu and Kashmir with a freehand to take the freedom movement to its logical end.

Sardar Abdul Qayyum however always set his face against the ideology of Khurshid. Until 1961 the PaK president was appointed by the Federal Ministry of Kashmir affairs on the “recommendation” of the Muslim Conference.

In 1951, when the Ministry of Kashmir affairs removed Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan from the office of PaK president on his return from a tour to the UNO and replaced him by Col Sher Ahmed Khan, Muslim Conference was split into factions led by Sardar Ibrahim and Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas.

Sardar Ibrahim wanted to give right to vote to the people, but Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas, the King maker, was of the view that this will diminish peoples’ interest in the Kashmir freedom struggle. Sardar Abdul Qayyum stood by Chaudhry Sahib and in 1952 he was inducted in the cabinet of Col Sher Ahmed Khan.

In 1956, when both factions of Muslim Conference reunited, Sardar Ibrahim was made the president of party while Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan was appointed PaK president. But he held that office only for seven months and was replaced by Sardar Ibrahim Khan.

In 1961, he contested first presidential election under the Basic Democracy (BD) system but lost to K H Khurshid. However, Khurshid had to resign after three years following differences with the powerful establishment, which ensured he should never return to power in PaK in future. 

In 1990, Sardar Abdul Qayyum was again elected as president, even though the Peoples Party had formed the government in PaK. But the next year, when general elections were held in PaK due to premature dissolution of Legislative Assembly, Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan resigned from the office of president and got himself elected as MLA against a seat reserved for the clergy and became prime minister for next five years.

In 2002, President Gen Pervez Musharraf appointed him chairman of the National Kashmir Committee. The same year, Sardar Abdul Qayyum saw his son and heir Sardar Attique becoming Muslim Conference president and later (in 2006) entering upon the office of prime minister. (Compiled by Tariq Naqash)

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