All-India Muslim League

All-India Muslim League
All India Muslim League

Aga Khan III (first Honorary President)

Founded December 30, 1906
Dacca, Bengal Presidency, British India
Headquarters Lucknow (first headquarters)
Ideology Political rights for Muslims

The All-India Muslim League,(Urdu: آل انڈیا مسلم لیگ), was founded by the All India Muhammadan Educational Conference at Dhaka (now Bangladesh), in 1906, in the context of the circumstances that were generated over the partition of Bengal in 1905. Being a political party to secure the interests of the Muslim diaspora in British India, the Muslim League played a decisive role during the 1940s in the Indian independence movement and developed into the driving force behind the creation of Pakistan as a Muslim state in the Indian subcontinent.[1] After the independence of India and Pakistan, the League continued as a minor party in India, especially in Kerala, where it is often in government within a coalition with others. In Pakistan, the League formed the country's first government, but disintegrated during the 1950s following an army coup. One or more factions of the Muslim League have been in power in most of the civilian governments of Pakistan since 1947. In Bangladesh, the party was revived in 1976 and won 14 seats in 1979 parliamentary election. Since then its importance has reduced, rendering it insignificant in the political arena.



Muslim rule was established across India between the 8th and the 14th centuries.[citation needed] The Muslim Mughal Empire ruled most of India from the early 16th century, but suffered a major decline in the 18th century. The decline of the Mughal empire and its successor states like Avadh led to a feeling of discontentment among Muslim elites. Muslims represented about 25-30% of the population of British India, and constituted the majority of the population in Baluchistan, East Bengal, Kashmir valley, North-West Frontier Province, West Punjab, and the Sindh region of the Karachi Presidency.

In the late 19th century an Indian nationalist movement developed with the Indian National Congress being founded in 1885 as a forum, that became a political party subsequently. The Congress made no conscious efforts to enlist the Muslim community in its struggle for Indian independence. Although some Muslims were active in the Congress, majority of Muslim leaders did not trust the Hindu predominance and most of the Muslims remained reluctant to join the Congress Party.

A turning point came in 1900 when the British administration in the largest Indian state, the United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh), acceded to popular demands and made Hindi, written in the Devanagari script, the official language. This seemed to aggravate minority fears that the Hindu majority would seek to suppress their religion in an independent India. A British official, Sir Percival Griffiths, wrote of these perceptions: "the minority belief that their interest must be regarded as completely separate from those of the majority, and that ethnic tensions between the two communities was possible."

Founding Fathers


The All India Muslim League was founded by the admirers, companions, and followers of the Aligarh Movement. The formation of a Muslim political party on national level was being reckoned to be essential since 1901. The first stage of its formation was the meeting held at Lucknow in September 1906, with participation of representatives from all over India. The decision for re-consideration to form the all Indian Muslim political party was taken and further proceedings were adjourned until the next meeting of All India Muhammadan Educational Conference. The Simla Deputation reconsidered the issue in October 1906 and decided to frame the objectives of the party on the occasion of the annual meeting of Educational Conference; that was later, scheduled to be held at Dhaka. Meanwhile Nawab Salimullah Khan published a detailed scheme through which he suggested the party to be named All India Muslim Confederacy. Pursuant upon the decisions taken earlier in Lukhnow meeting and later in Simla; the annual meeting of All India Muhammadan Educational Conference was held at Dhaka that continued from 27 December, uptil 30 December 1906. that was headed by both Nawab Waqar-ul-Mulk and Nawab Muhasan-ul-Mulk (the Secretary of the Muhammaden Educational Conference); in which he explained its objectives and stressed the unity of the Muslims under the banner of an association.[2] It was formally proposed by Nawab Salimullah Khan and supported by Hakim Ajmal Khan, Maulana Muhammed Ali Jauhar, Zafar Ali Khan and several others. The Founding meeting was hosted by Nawab Sir Khwaja Salimullah and attended by three thousand delegates, while Ameer Ali, Sir Mian Muhammad Shafi were also the founding fathers who attended this meeting. The name "All India Muslim League" was proposed by Sir Agha Khan III who was appointed its first President. The League's constitution was framed in 1907 in Karachi."

All India Muhammadan Educational Conference at Dhaka, which laid the foundation of Muslim League in 1906 under Nawab Wiqar-ul-Mulk while the convention was organized by Nawab Muhsan-ul-Mulk, the then Organizer as well as the Secretary of the Muhammadan Educational Conference at Ali garh.

Early years

Sir Aga Khan was appointed the first Honorary President of the Muslim League. The headquarters were established at Lucknow. There were also six vice-presidents, a secretary and two joint secretaries initially appointed for a three-years term, proportionately from different provinces.[3] The principles of the League were espoused in the "Green Book," which included the organisation's constitution, written by Maulana Mohammad Ali. Its goals at this stage did not include establishing an independent Muslim state, but rather concentrated on protecting Muslim liberties and rights, promoting understanding between the Muslim community and other Indians, educating the Muslim and Indian community at large on the actions of the government, and discouraging violence.

The search for a solution

Muhammad Ali Jinnah became disillusioned with politics after the failure of his attempt to form a Hindu-Muslim alliance, and he spent most of the 1920s in Britain. The leadership of the League was taken over by Sir Muhammad Iqbal, who in 1930 first put forward the demand for a separate Muslim state in India. The "Two-Nation Theory", the belief that Hindus and Muslims were two different nations who could not live in one country, gained popularity among Muslims. The two-state solution was rejected by the Congress leaders, who favoured a united India based on composite national identity. Iqbal's policy of uniting the North-West Frontier Province, Baluchistan, Punjab, and Sindh into a new Muslim majority state united the many factions of the League.

The League, however, rejected the proposal that the committee returned (called the Nehru Report), arguing that it gave too little representation (one quarter) to Muslims, established Devanagari as the official language of the colony, and demanded that India turn into a de facto unitary state, with residuary powers resting at the center – the League had demanded at least one-third representation in the legislature and sizable autonomy for the Muslim provinces. Jinnah reported a "parting of the ways" after his requests for minor amendments to the proposal were denied outright, and relations between the Congress and the League began to sour.

Conception of Pakistan

On December 29, 1930 Sir Muhammad Iqbal delivered his monumental presidential address to the All India Muslim League annual session. He said[4]:

I would like to see Punjab, North-West Frontier Province (Now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Sindh and Balochistan amalgamated into a single state. Self government within the British Empire or without the British Empire, the formation of a consolidated North-West Indian Muslim state appears to me to be the final destiny of the Muslims, at least of North-West India.

Sir Muhammad Iqbal did not use the word "Pakistan" in his address. According to some scholars, Iqbal had not presented the idea of a separate Muslim State; rather he wanted a large Muslim province by amalgamating Punjab, Sindh, NWFP and Baluchistan into a big North-Western province within India.[5] They argued that "Iqbal never pleaded for any kind of partition of the country. Rather he was an ardent proponent of a 'true' federal setup for India.... And wanted a consolidated Muslim majority within the Indian Federation".[6]

Another Indian historian Tara Chand also held that Iqbal was not thinking in terms of partition of India but in terms of a federation of autonomous states within India.[7] Dr. Safdar Mehmood also asserted in a series of articles that in the Allahabad address Iqbal proposed a Muslim majority province within an Indian federation and not an independent state outside an Indian Federation.[8]

On January 28, 1933, Choudhary Rahmat Ali, founder of Pakistan National Movement voiced his ideas in the pamphlet entitled "Now or Never;[9] Are We to Live or Perish Forever?" The word 'Pakstan' referred to "the five Northern units of India, viz., Punjab, North-West Frontier Province (Afghan Province, now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Kashmir, Sind and Baluchistan"". By the end of 1933, the word "Pakistan" became common vocabulary where an “I” was added to ease pronunciation (as in Afghan-i-stan). In a subsequent book Rehmat Ali discussed the etymology in further detail.[10] "Pakistan' is both a Persian and an Urdu word. It is composed of letters taken from the names of all our South Asia homelands; that is, Punjab, Afghania, Kashmir, Sindh and Balochistan. It means the land of the Pure".

According to some scholars,[11] "Rehmat Ali’s concept of Pakistan was nebulous, impractical and fantasy-ridden. It was to include the entire northwest of India, Kashmir, the Kathiawar peninsula, Kutch, and several enclaves deep within UP, including Delhi and Lucknow. There were to be two independent Muslim states besides Pakistan: Bangistan comprising Bengal and Assam in the east and Osmanistan in the south. These two were to form a federation with Pakistan. The 243 principalities or Rajwaras were to be divided among caste Hindus and “others” and then herded together in a ghetto called Hanoodia. As for the Sikhs, they were to be pushed into an enclave called Sikhia. Other races and religions were to inhabit an encampment by the name of Hanadika. Every non-Muslim was to remain subservient to the master race he called “The Paks”. And yes, the subcontinent was to be renamed Dinia. He did not say how he was going to bring all that about."

The British and the Indian Press vehemently criticized these two different schemes and created a confusion about the authorship of the word "Pakistan" to such an extent that even Jawahur Lal Nehru had to write:

Iqbal was one of the early advocates of Pakistan and yet he appears to have realized its inherent danger and absurdity. Edward Thompson has written that in the course of conversation, Iqbal told him that he had advocated Pakistan because of his position as President of Muslim League session, but he felt sure that it would be injurious to India as a whole and to Muslims especially.


Sir Muhammad Iqbal disapproved the scheme of Ch. rahmat Ali because there were seven or eight other imaginary and utopian ‘…stans’ linked with this scheme. He wrote to Prof. Edward John Thompson of Oxford University, that;[13]

You call me a protagonist of the scheme called “Pakistan”. Now Pakistan is not my scheme. (Iqbal is here, referring to Ch. Rehmat Ali's scheme of Pakistan) The one that I suggested in my address is the creation of a Muslim Province – i.e., a province having an overwhelming population of Muslims in the North-West of India. This new province will be, according to my scheme, a part of the proposed Indian Federation. Pakistan scheme (i.e., scheme of Ch. Rahmat Ali) proposes a separate federation of Muslim Provinces directly related to England as a separate dominion. This scheme originated in Cambridge. The authors[14] of this scheme believe that we Muslim Round Tablers have sacrificed the Muslim nation on the altar of Hindu or the so called Indian Nationalism.

Like Iqbal, Jinnah also disapproved this scheme and considered it;[15]

as some sort of Walt Disney dreamland, if not Wellsian nightmare", and thought that "he felt the professional's contempt for the amateur's mistake of showing his hand without holding the trumps.

In his presidential address to the All India Muslim League annual session at Delhi on 24 April 1943, Muhammad Ali Jinnah said:[16]

I think you will bear me out that when we passed the Lahore resolution we had not used the word 'Pakistan'. Who gave us this word'? (Cries of “Hindus”) Let me tell you it is their fault. They started damning this resolution on the ground that it was 'Pakistan'. They are really ignorant of the Muslim movement. They fathered this word upon us.... You know perfectly well that Pakistan is a word which is really foisted upon us and fathered on us by some section of the Hindu press and also by the British press. Now our resolution was known for a long time as the Lahore resolution popularly known as 'Pakistan'. But how long are we to have this long phrase? Now I say to my Hindu and British friends: We thank you for giving us one word. (Applause, and cries of hear, hear.)

"What is the origin of the word 'Pakistan'? It was not Muslim League or Quaid-i-Azam who coined it. Some young fellows[17] in London, who wanted a particular part of north-west to be separated from the rest of India, coined a name in 1929-30, started the idea and called a zone Pakistan. They picked up the letter P for Punjab. A for Afghan, as the NWFP is known even today as Afghan, K for Kashmir. S for Sind, and Tan for Baluchistan. A ¬name was coined. Thus, whatever may have been the meaning of this word at the time it is obvious that language of every civilized country invents new words. The word Pakistan has come to mean Lahore resolution. We wanted a word and it was foisted on us and we found it convenient to use it as a synonym for Lahore Resolution.”

Campaign for Pakistan

Muslim League Working Committee at the Lahore session

At a League conference in Lahore in 1940, Jinnah said: "Hindus and the Muslims belong to two different religions, philosophies, social customs and literature.... It is quite clear that Hindus and Muslims derive their inspiration from different sources of history. They have different epics, different heroes and different episodes.... To yoke together two such nations under a single state, one as a numerical minority and the other as a majority, must lead to growing discontent and final destruction of any fabric that may be so built up for the government of such a state."

At Lahore the League formally recommitted itself to creating an independent Muslim state, including Sindh, Punjab, Baluchistan, the North West Frontier Province and Bengal, that would be "wholly autonomous and sovereign". The resolution guaranteed protection for non-Muslim religions. The Lahore Resolution was adopted on March 23, 1940, and its principles formed the foundation for Pakistan's first constitution. Talks between Jinnah and Gandhi in 1944 in Bombay failed to achieve agreement. This was the last attempt to reach a single-state solution.

Chaudhry Khaliquzzaman seconding the Resolution with Jinnah presiding the session.

In the 1940s, Jinnah emerged as a leader of the Indian Muslims and was popularly known as Quaid-e-Azam (Great Leader). In the Constituent Assembly elections of 1946, the League won 425 out of 496 seats reserved for Muslims (and about 89.2% of Muslim votes) on a policy of creating an independent state of Pakistan, and with an implied threat of secession if this was not granted. Gandhi, Maulana Azad and Nehru, who with the election of another Labour government in Britain in 1945 saw independence within reach, were adamantly opposed to dividing India.

However, 1947 saw violent and bloody battles caused due to the communal clashes between the two communities in India. People migrated from India to Pakistan and vice-versa. The situation continued to be tense until the governments of the two nations were formed.

Many years after the partition, the two nations are still trying to heal the wounds left behind by this incision to once-whole body of India. Many are still in search of an identity and a history left behind beyond an impenetrable boundary. The two countries started of with ruined economies and lands and without an established, experienced system of government. They lost many of their most dynamic leaders, such as Gandhi, Jinnah and Muhammad Iqbal, soon after the partition. Pakistan had to face the separation of Bangladesh in 1971. India and Pakistan have been to war twice since the partition and they are still deadlocked over the issue of possession of Kashmir. The same issues of boundaries and divisions, Hindu and Muslim majorities and differences, still persist in Kashmir.

The partition seems to have been inevitable after all, one of the examples being Lord Mountbatten's statement on Jinnah - "I tried every trick I could play... to shake Jinnah's resolve... Nothing would move him from his consuming determination for Pakistan..."

Influence on the future courses of India and Pakistan

The Muslim League not only played a major role in the National Movement, but also after India obtained freedom and Pakistan seceded from the former. We could see that the struggle for a separate Islamic state did not end up in anticlimax after all. On July 18, 1947, the British Parliament passed the Indian Independence Act that finalized the partition agreement. The 562 princely states were given a choice to choose between Hindustan and Pakistan. [18]

Present Day Divisions of All India Muslim League which converted into Pakistan Muslim league

The Pakistan Muslim League was founded in 1962, as a successor to the previously disbanded Muslim League in Pakistan. Unlike the original PML which ended in 1958 when General Ayub Khan banned all political parties, each subsequent Muslim League was in some way propped by the military dictators of the time: Ayub Khan, General Zia-ul-Haq and General Pervez Musharraf. Every time the pro-establishment political leaders were put together, who splintered apart when the general's blessings faded away.[19] Hence, Pakistan Muslim League refers to several political parties in Pakistan.

Muttahida Muslim League

Muttahida Muslim League led by Pir Pagara is the "assimilation" of majority of the factions of the Pakistan Muslim League, in a bid to mount a strong opposition to the Pakistan Peoples Party led ruling government. It may be noted that all factions will continue to hold their individual identities, as the MML is treated as a platform for parties to come together. "Muttahida" in Urdu means "united". It consists of the following parties:

  • PML-F, the Functional Muslim League or Pir Pagaro group, first formed in 1973 when Council and Convention Leagues merged (without Qayyum Muslim League, which was allied with PPP-led government) and elected Pir Pagaro as president. Later on, General Zia got all the Muslim Leagues together, but installed Muhammad Khan Junejo as PML president. Feeling uncomfortable, Pagaro left the party and made his own in 1985. Functional League as it was called merged with PMLQ in 2004 under the patronage of General Musharraf, but Pagaro separated again after a few months to form his own league. In September 2010 the PML-F and PML-Q united, forming the All Pakistan Muslim League (Pir Pagara).[20][21] However, the APML has ceased to exist with the formation of this new platform.
  • PML-Q, the Quaid-e-Azam group , formed by Mian Muhammad Azhar in 2001 at the behest of the establishment with other like-minded leaders of PMLN including Syeda Abida Hussain, Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri and Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. Presently headed by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain when he outmaneuvered Mian Azhar to become the president. Officially called Pakistan Muslim League, after the 2004 unification of many smaller PML factions and other regional parties.[22] In September 2010 the PML-Q merged with PML-F, forming the All Pakistan Muslim League (Pir Pagara).[20][21] However, the APML has ceased to exist with the formation of this new platform. May be noted here, the PML-Q itself has not joined this alliance as a whole, only a group within the faction known as the "Like-minded" group has joined hands with Pir Pagara. The Chaudhry brothers, as yet, remain out of this.
  • PML-J, the Muhammad Khan Junejo group. Officially formed in 1985 as Pakistan Muslim League when General Zia-ul-Haq's government cobbled together many factions of PML and installed Junejo as its president. It was re-formed as PML-Junejo after Junejo's death in 1993 by Hamid Nasir Chattha, Manzoor Wattoo, Nawab Sardar Mushtaq Ahmed Khan Malazai and Iqbal Ahmed Khan when Nawaz Sharif became president of his own league. Hamid Chattha became the president and Iqbal Ahmed Khan the general secretary and Nawab Sardar Mushtaq Ahmed Khan the vice-chairman.But in in 1995 Manzoor Wattoo and Nawab Sardar Mushtaq Ahmed Khan Malazai left the party to form a new Muslim League of their own.It merged with PML-Q in 2004.
  • PML-Jinnah, the Jinnah group, founded in 1995 by Manzoor Wattoo and Nawab Sardar Mushtaq Ahmed Khan Malazai after differences with Hamid Chattha.However in 1997 just after 2years both had differences and it wasnot long before Nawab Sardar Mushtaq Ahmed Khan Malazai parted ways and joined Pakistan Muslim League (N) It merged with PML-Q in 2004.
  • Awami Muslim League Pakistan, founded in 2008 by Sheikh Rashid Ahmad after differences with PML-Q. Ahmad suggested the unification of all Muslim League parties which resulted in forming the All Pakistan Muslim League led by Pir Pagara in September 2010.[21]
  • PML-Zia, the Zia-ul-Haq Shaheed group, founded by Muhammad Ijaz-ul-Haq in 2002 after his differences with both Nawaz Sharif's PML-N and Shujaat Hussain's PML-Q. It merged with the Quaid-e-Azam group following general elections in 2002, but after Ijaz left the party, it was revived once more in February 2010.

All Pakistan Muslim League (Pervez Musharraf)

All Pakistan Muslim League (or APML), founded in 2010 by former Army chief & president of pakistanPervez Musharraf and supporters breaking away from the PML-Q and PML N.[23]

Pakistan Muslim League (N)

PML-N, the Nawaz Sharif group, ordinarily not recognized as original Muslim League was named so after separartion of PML(Q). Formed as PML (Fida Mohammad Khan) in 1988 when it split from Junejo's PML in 1988 after Zia's demise. The new party had Fida Khan as its president and Nawaz Sharif as general secretary. PML-N represents a group within Muslim League headed by shareef brothers.

Historical Versions

Historically, Pakistan Muslim League can also refer to any of the following political parties in Pakistan:[24]

See also


  1. ^ Jalal, Ayesha (1994) The Sole Spokesman: Jinnah, the Muslim League and the Demand for Pakistan. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-45850-4
  2. ^ Pakistan movement. Commencement and evolution, p. 167, 168, by Dr. Sikandar Hayat Khan and Shandana Zahid, published by Urdu Science Board, Lahore. ISBN 969-477-122-6
  3. ^ Establishment of All India Muslim League, Story of Pakistan website. Retrieved on 11 May 20jiddou07
  4. ^ A.R. Tariq (ed.), Speeches and Statements of Iqbal (Lahore: 1973),
  5. ^ K.K. Aziz, Making of Pakistan (London: 1970), p.81.
  6. ^ Verinder Grover (ed.), Muhammad Iqbal: Poet Thinker of Modern Muslim India Vol. 25 (New Delhi: Deep & Deep Publications, 1995), pp.666-67.
  7. ^ Tara Chand, History of Freedom Movement in India Vol. III (New Delhi: 1972), p.253.
  8. ^ lang, Mar. 23, 24 & 25, 2003; Also see, Safdar Mahmood, Iqbal, Jinnah aur Pakistan (Lahore: Khazina Ilm-wa-Adab, 2004), pp.52-69.
  9. ^ Full text of the pamphlet "Now or Never", published by Choudhary Rahmat Ali,
  10. ^ Choudhary Rahmat Ali, 1947, Pakistan: the fatherland of the Pak nation, Cambridge, OCLC: 12241695
  11. ^ Khalid Hasan, Let Chaudhry Rehmat Ali lie in peace
  12. ^ J.L. Nehru, Discovery ofIndia (New York: 1946), p.353.
  13. ^
  14. ^ Ch. Rehmat Ali, Khawaja Abdur Rahim, Muhammad Aslam Khan, Sheikh Muhammad Sadiq, Inayatullah Khan of Cambridge.
  15. ^ Frank. Moraes, Witness to an Era (Bombay: Vikas Publishing House, 1973), pp.79-80.
  16. ^ Some Recent Speeches and Writings of Mr. Jinnah, Vol. 1. pp. 555.557.
  17. ^ It has been already mentioned that, "Rahmat Ali alone drafted the Pakistan declaration (in which the word Pakistan was used for the first time), but in order to make it "representative" he began to look around for people who would sign it along with him.
  18. ^ M S, Amogh (20). "A history project on the impact of the AIMD on the future courses of India and Pakistan". Online Daily. 
  19. ^ Alauddin Masood. "PML Perpetually Multiplying Leagues" Weekly Pulse, January 25, 2008
  20. ^ a b PML-Q announces merger with PML-F
  21. ^ a b c PML-Q, PML-F unite to form All Pakistan Muslim League
  22. ^ Ashraf Mumtaz. "Parties to inform EC about merger with PML" Dawn Newspaper, May 20, 2004
  23. ^ Musharraf’s political party launched, [[Dawn (newspaper)|]], 9 June 2010
  24. ^ Ashraf Mumtaz. "A 100-year-old toddler" Dawn Newspaper, May 14, 2006

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