BY PROP RAFI ULLAH SHEHAB (LATE)
Through their political influence they tried their best to keep the district educationally backward. The British government, keeping in view the military talent of the area, had sanctioned establishment of colleges in Mianwali and Campbellpure districts in the year 1928. The college in the Campbellpure with the active support of the Sikh community started functioning in that very year while the feudals of Mianwali were able to hinder its start in the district.
It could only be established after the establishment of Pakistan in the year 1951.
Due to this educational backwardness, the number of the Muslim newspaper readers was very small, Hindus, who dominated the trade of the district, were better educated than the Muslims. Hindu newspapers, daily ‘Milap’, ‘Partab’ and ‘Veer Bharat’ were available in abundance while only a few copies of Muslim newspapers like daily ‘Zamindar’ and daily ‘Ehsan’ were provided by the Hindu newspapers agent. Nobody knew about daily ‘Nawa-i-Waqt’ at that time. Even Muslims were compelled to read the Hindu, newspapers.
It was in the year 1945 or 1946 when a Hindu newspaper ‘Milap’ started passing sarcastic remarks about Hamid Nizami. In those days Maulana Abdul Kalam, President of the Indian National Congress paid a short visit to the area. His visit, instead of creating any support for the Hindu congress resulted in the popularity of Muslim League and its leaders. Hamid Nizami was considered a prominent leader of the Muslim League and the sarcastic remarks by Hindu daily ‘Milap’ enraged the Muslims. They collected all the copies of the newspaper and after a procession in the main bazaar of Mianwali set these of fire at the Railway Chowk.
At that time Majlis-i-Ahrar-i-Islam was the popular political party of the Muslims of the district. The reasons for its popularity was its campaign against the feudals of the district. One of its leaders Maulvi Gulsher Khan who was a relative of Nawab of Kalabagh was leading this campaign. After coming to know that feudalism was against the teachings of Islam, he distributed all his extra land among the landless tenants and started a campaign against the feudals of Mianwali and Campbellpure districts. It made him very popular in these districts and wherever he went, the peasants welcomed him by carrying their plough on their shoulders. It made the Ahrar party as the most popular party of the district. His popularity frightened the feudal people and Maulvi Sahib was shot dead by some unknown person. His party Ahrar-i-Islam alleged that Nawab of Kalabagh was behind this murder.
They started a campaign against him, which was brutally crushed by the Nawab. A shot visit by Maulana Abdul Kalam, the President of the Indian National Congress also contributed to the decline of the Ahrar party. The workers of the party had surrounded him at his arrival. But unfortunately the Maulana, instead of addressing the Muslims in some mosque, preferred to do so in a Hindu playground Mahabir Dal. He tried to convince the Muslims that all India Congress was also the political party of the Muslims. But due to wrong selection of venue of his address it had negative effects on the Muslim League and the leaders.
Hamid Nizami was acknowledged as the prominent leader of the Muslim League as he had devoted his energies for its popularity. This increase in the popularity of the Muslim League resulted into abnormal increase in the readership of Nawa-i-Waqt.
The price of the daily newspapers at that time was two annas (one-eighth of a rupee). It seems that even at that time there was shortage of newsprint paper and daily ‘Nawa-i-Waqt’ in order to meet the demand of increased readers, had to reduce its pages to four only. The price of the newspaper was also reduced to one half i.e. one anna only. This reduced price made it possible for the students like the scribe to purchase the newspaper. As a result ‘Nawa-i-Waqt’ became popular among the students. They started taking daily processions in support of the Muslim League. As a result it became the most popular political party of the district. The feudal people took advantage of this popularity and joined the Muslims League while the Quaid-e-Azam had declared to eliminate feudalism from the country. In those days Mian Iftikhar-ud-Din was the president of the Muslim League. He visited the district after the establishment of Pakistan. He noticed the resentment of the people against the feudals. Perhaps similar was the situation in the other districts.
The state of affair prompted him to resign from the Muslim League and founded a new political party known as Azad Pakistan Party. Its motto was that of the Quaid to eliminate feudalism from the country. Almost all the workers of Ahar-i-Islam joined this new party.
So much so that one of its labour leaders Maulvi Ghulam Mohammad Hashmi challenged the Nawab of Kalabagh in the 1951 provincial elections. As a result of the domination of the feudal people, Muslims League became a dormant political party for the popularity of which Hamid Nizami devoted his life.