Rehmat Ali Choudhary: The Man Behind the Name “Pakistan”

This article will take you through the history of Pakistan (which is on the verge of extinction) and the facts behind its name.

Pakistan and Jinnah

  • Muhammad Ali Jinnah is remembered as Pakistan’s founder, its “Qaid e Azam,” or “Great Leader.”
  • He was the leader of a movement that made a flimsy idea of a sovereign Islamic state in British India’s northwestern provinces a reality.
  • However, he was not the first to propose Pakistan, nor was he its first champion.

Rehmat Ali: Coining the term ‘Pakistan’

  • Choudhary Rehmat Ali, the “Founder of the Pakistan National Movement,” is credited with coining the term Pakistan.
  • He published a pamphlet titled “Now or Never: Are we to live or perish forever?” on January 28, 1933.
  • He made a strong “appeal on behalf of the thirty million Muslims of PAKISTAN who live in the five Northern Units of India… for recognition of their national status” in it.
  • He emphasised the differences between himself and the other inhabitants of India, citing religious, social, and historical grounds.
  • According to many historians, this is the origin of the concept of Pakistan, which would become mainstream by the 1940s.

Ali’s appeal

  • Rehmat Ali’s appeal was also a criticism of the Nationalism wave.
  • During the Third Round Table Conference, he distributed pro-Pakistan pamphlets (1932).
  • He advocated for a separate, sovereign entity, fearing that the Muslim minority would be absorbed by the Hindu population under the proposed constitution.
  • British India, in his opinion, was not the home of a single nation, but rather the designation of a State established by the British for the first time in history.

His idea of Pakistan

  • Pakistan was the name Rehmat Ali gave to the “five Northern Provinces of India” – Punjab (P), North-West Frontier Province or the Afghan Province (A), Kashmir (K), Sindh (S), and Balochistan (tan).
  • He’d refer to it as Pakistan.
  • He argued that this region, with its “distinct marks of nationality,” would be “reduced to a minority of one in ten,” in a united Indian federation.

Exposition of the “Two Nation Theory”

  • Rehmat Ali was a businessman, not a politician. Ali’s dream became a reality in 1947.
  • He also did not spend much of the 1930s and 1940s in the subcontinent, when the struggle for Pakistan was taking shape.
  • His only contribution to Pakistan is his writings and ideas.
  • Unlike Iqbal, who is better known as the philosopher who inspired the creation of Pakistan, Ali’s work was limited to a much smaller audience.
  • However, it was crucial in the formation of Pakistan.
  • His work contains the most radical exposition of the “Two Nation Theory,” which was later popularised by Jinnah and the Muslim League.

How Jinnah overtook Rehmat Ali?

  • After Jinnah fell out with the Congress in 1937, things began to change.
  • Rahmat Ali’s articulation of Pakistan found its way into mainstream discourse as the leader’s rhetoric became increasingly separatist.
  • The famous Lahore Resolution was passed at the Muslim League’s Lahore session in 1940.
  • It advocated for the geographical contiguous units in Muslim-majority areas of India’s “North-Western and Eastern Zones of India” to be grouped together to form Independent States.
  • While this resolution did not mention “Pakistan,” Jinnah’s ideas were similar to those of Rahmat Ali.
  • Between 1940 and 1943, Jinnah and other Muslim League leaders began using the term “Pakistan” in their speeches and correspondence.
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