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KHAN SAHIB DR

KHAN SAHIB, DR (1882-1956) Dr Khan Sahib, one of the “two Khan brothers”-the other being Abdul Ghaffar Khan-was born in the Northwest Frontier Province His initial inclination was to pursue a career in medicine rather than in politics Accordingly, he studied medicine, received a degree from London University, and began clinical practice in Peshawar He did not pursue the medical career for long and joined his brother in promoting the objectives of the Khudai Khidmatgar Movement The movement, also known as the Red Shirts, had caught the imagination of a large number of people in the Northwest Frontier Province largely because of the work done by the Khan brothersUnlike Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Dr Khan Sahib was not averse to holding public office After the provincial elections of 1937 in which he associated his movement with Gandhi’s Indian National Congress and won an impressive victory for the Congress Party, he was invited to become the province’s chief minister



He resigned two years later along with all other Congress provincial chief ministers to protest the entry of British India in the war against Germany He was back as the chief minister of the Frontier Province after leading the Congress-Khudai Khidmatgar coalition to another electoral triumph in the elections of 1946 This victory was even more impressive than the one in 1937 because in the interim Muhammad Ali Jinnah and his demand for the establishment of an independent homeland for the Muslims of British India had begun to draw considerable support from the Muslims of the country With the Muslims accounting for 95 percent of the province’s total population, the Northwest Frontier Province was expected to follow Jinnah and the rest of Muslim India in favoring the idea of PakistanThe Khan brothers and their Khudai Khidmatgar supporters had vigorously opposed the idea of Pakistan, and their opposition to Jinnah was strong enough for the British administration to insist that a referendum should be held in order to ascertain whether the people of the Frontier Provinces wished to join Pakistan The referendum was held, and the supporters of Pakistan won easily; the Khan brothers lost their bid to keep their province out of Pakistan That notwithstanding, Dr Khan Sahib refused to leave office When Pakistan was born on 14 August 1947, Dr Khan Sahib was still the province’s chief minister This situation was clearly unacceptable to GovernorGeneral Jinnah, who intervened by ordering the governor of the province to dismiss the Khan administration and order Abdul Quyyum Khan to form a new government

The emergence of Pakistan did not put an end to Dr Khan Sahib’s political career In 1955 he reappeared as a member of the federal cabinet headed by Muhammad Ali Bogra In 1955, when the four provinces and the princely states in the country’s west wing merged to form the one unit of West Pakistan, Governor-General Iskander Mirza sent Dr Khan Sahib to Lahore to head the new administration as West Pakistan’s first chief minister This was a shrewd move on the part of the governor-general, since the creation of West Pakistan had been opposed by the smaller provinces, in particular by Balochistan and the Northwest Frontier These provinces were afraid of total domination by Punjab, the largest province in Pakistan’s western wing At the same time, Dr Khan Sahib’s decision to accept the governor-general’s offer represented a significant shift in his position because he had spent his entire political career in promoting a separate identify for the Pathan peopleIn April 1956, Dr Khan Sahib joined hands with Governor-General Iskander Mirza to start a new political organization, the aim of which was to provide the Pakistani establishment with a political vehicle that it could dominate

The Muslim League was too large an organization to be dominated by one faction Iskander Mirza and his associates called their group the Republic Party of Pakistan Dr Khan Sahib remained the chief minister of West Pakistan He was murdered in Lahore by a young Pathan while still in office The assassin was unhappy that the chief minister had not helped him to secure a job in the government

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