By DANYAL SALEEM GILANI
The leading role which Nawa-i-Waqt and Hameed Nizami played in the struggle for Pakistan’s independence cannot be underestimated, but the true nature of the relationship between the founder editor of the paper and Quaid-i-Azam has not been fully realised, both among the intelligentsia and the laymen. It was a relationship based on mutual trust, a complete confidence in each other’s unwavering dedication to the cause, sincerity of purpose and struggle for a common objective.
The Hameed Nizami MA Jinnah correspondence, presented by the Cabinet Division under the aegis of the Quaid-i-Azam Papers Project, provides an opportunity to understand the minute details of the contact between the two, before February 1940, a month before the (then) fortnightly first appeared.
The letter written by Hameed Nizami on February 1st, 1940 shows how keenlythe writer was interested in furthering the cause of the Muslims of India. “The lqbal Day is going to be celebrated on the 22nd of February. I am to request you to send a message on this occasion. The importance of your message can never be adequately stressed, as you are our greatest leader. I hope you will not disappoint me.”
As President, Punjab Muslim Students Federation, he invited the Quaid to preside over the third Annual Punjab Muslim Students Conference held in 1942, in this letter he also mentioned the role of the Muslim students towards the cause of the Pakistan Movement. “The Muslim students of the Punjab are doing their bit to further the cause of our millat.
We have organised our branches in almost all the important towns in the province within a dozen of new branches. You would be glad to learn that our branches in, Jammu and Kashmir are most active and are doing very useful and substantial work. Our members in the Punjab are organising Primary Muslim Leagues, opening education centres and reading rooms, and propagating the idea of Pakistan in rural areas. We have sent a telegram to the Viceroy, also requesting him to convey to His Majesty’s Government that any unholy alliance between the British Government and the Hindu Congress, at the back of Musalmans, will be resisted by the Muslim Youth of the Punjab by all possible means and at all costs.”
In a letter to the Quaid on May 9th, 1943, he apprised him of the situation.
The most important problem is that of organisation. Our organisation in the Punjab is very weak at present and our District leagues are not working efficiently have promised on behalf of Punjab Muslim Students Federation, to place the services of 12 student workers at the disposal of the Provincial Muslim League. We have divided the province into four zones and have allotted each zone to a group of three students. An elderly League worker, preferably a local man, will be with them for their help and guidance.
The Provincial Muslim League will pay for the railway fare. The students will meet the other expenses from their own pockets. We hope to reach every town in two months.’ In reply to this letter the Quaid replied, “I am glad that young men are playing their part in this noble service of our cause. I wish you all success. Please keep me informed of your activities and the results of your labour in different zones as you proceed from zone to zone.”
In another letter dated August 30, 1943 Hameed Nizami informed the Quaid of the political situation prevailing in the Punjab especially the decline of the Unionists. “You would be glad to learn that Muslim League’s influence and popularity in the Punjab is increasing every day. People are now realising that they cannot prosper and even live as a respectable community unless they come under the national banner. Psychological factors are tremendously in our favour. If someone picks up courage in both hands we can prick the Unionists’ bubble in six months. The Party is a house divided against itself. Its entire foundation has beer shaken very badly.” Hameed Nizami felt confident enough to advise the Quaid on the general thrust of the Muslim League’s policies, and was not averse to point out the shortcomings
in some instances. “(League) is patronising big Zamindars, strengthening Daultanas, Khatris and other families. It may help League for the time being but League will never be able to become a mass organisation if it does not alter its policy. There lies the great danger, Quaid-i-Azam, Muslim masses do not want Pakistan for Daultanas, and Khatris. Shaukat is a big Zamindar and an enemy of the poor Muslims even if he pretends to be Leaguer. He changes merely the label not the mentality.”
Of the vast collection of letters exchanged between the two only a few are available at present. This correspondence not only throws light on the activities of Muslim students in the Punjab but also tells us how desperately the All India Muslim League wanted to organise itself at the local level in the Muslim majority provinces and to communicate its message to the common man. The Quaid’s replies are ample testimony to this fact. His letter dated July 7, 1944 clearly shows how highly he rated Hameed Nizami’s services to the cause of the League: “I am in receipt of your letter and telegram, asking me to send you a message for your paper, the Nawa-i-Waqt weekly. I trust that your paper will support the policy and programme, of the All lndian Muslim League.”