Abdul Qayyum Khan

Abdul Qayyum Khan
Personal details
Born (1901-06-16)June 16, 1901
Chitral, Chitral State
Died September 22, 1981(1981-09-22) (aged 80)
Peshawar NWFP now Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, Pakistan
Political party All-India Muslim League.
Alma mater Government College University, London School of Economics, Lincoln Inn
Religion Islam

Abdul Qayyum Khan (Urdu: عبدالقیوم خان) (16 July 1901 – 22 October 1981) was a major figure in Pakistan politics, in particular in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, where he was deputy speaker, chief minister and minister in the central government and as federal interior minister.

Early life

Khan's father, Khan Abdul Hakim, was originally from Jammu and Kashmir, but worked as a Tehsildar in the North-West Frontier Province (N.W.F.P., now called Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) of British India. Abdul Qayyum Khan was a barrister by profession. One of his brothers, Abdul Hamid Khan, was a prime minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and other Khan Abdul Rauf Khan was a renowned lawyer. Abdul Qayum Khan was one of the eminent lawyers of N.W.F.P. During his professional career he conducted some very important cases. He used to practice in criminal law. Mirza Shams ul Haq was his most trustworthy colleague, who remained always close to him during profession and politics. Abdul Qayum was also assisted in his chambers by Muhammad Nazirullah Khan advocate, who later served as a provincial secretary general and senior vice president of Pakistan Muslim League.

Political career

Starting his political career from Indian National Congress, he quickly rose to serve as an elected member of the Central Legislative Assembly (1937–38) and the deputy leader of the Congress in the Assembly. At that time he admired Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan. He authored a book, Gold and Guns, in which he praised Ghafar Khan.[1] However, he later claimed that Ghaffar Khan was plotting Jinah's assassination.[2][3]

He joined the Muslim League in the mid-1940s and became a key figure Pakistan movement in N.W.F.P now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. His stand for creation of Pakistan and Frontier province becoming a part of that country put him in opposition to Ghafar Khan and Khudai Khidmatgars who by that time had merged with Indian National Congress and were first for a united India and later demanded Pukhunistan, a separate country for the Frontier province. He campaigned pro Pakistan before the scheduled referendum in the Frontier province which was to decide the fate of that province. Khudai Khidmatgar (Indian National Congress Frontier chapter), which was the ruling party in the province declared to abstain from the referendum in protest against not having the option of Pukhtunistan. Muslim League won the accession of the Frontier to the newly created state of Pakistan. Qayoom Khan formed the new provincial government. He was a good administrator. His administration was known for its development work in the province, including the construction of Peshawar University and the Warsak dam. He introduced compulsory free education up to middle school level in Frontier province, the first province of Pakistan to have this reform. He also made poor friendly amendments to the land revenue laws. He evoked opposition from a section of the feudal class due to his egalitarian policies. His political stand was opposition to the Khudai Khidmatgar movement of Ghafar Khan.[4] His alleged role in ordering the Babrra massacre is one which he faces much criticism. He led the Muslim League to a landslide victory in the 1951 elections, despite opposition from the Khudai Khidmatgar movement and opposition from federally backed fellow Muslim league opponents like Yusuf Khattak.[5]

He served as central minister for Industries, Food and Agriculture Minister in 1953.

Arrested by the Ayub Khan regime, he was disqualified from politics and imprisoned for two years before finally being released.

Contesting the 1970 elections from three seats as leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Qayyum faction, he won two National Assembly seats one provincial seat and in 1973 entered into alliance with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) after East Pakistan broke away in the Bangladesh Liberation War.

Appointed federal interior minister by Zulfiqar Bhutto, he served in that post till the 1977 elections, when his party suffered a near total rout. After Zia-ul-Haqs assumption of power, Qayyum Khan tried to unify all the disparate Muslim League factions. His efforts were inconclusive and he died on 22 October 1981.[6]

He was always opposed by Khan Habibullah Khan a Pashtun; they were lifelong rivals since they were young class-mates at Islamia College, Peshawar.


Babrra massacre

Under the orders of Abdul Qayyum Khan[7] the Babrra massacre occurred on 12 August 1948 in the Charsadda District of the North-West Frontier Province (now Khyber Pukhtunkhwa) of Pakistan, when innocent and unarmed workers of the Khudai Khidmatgar movement were brutally fired upon by the provincial government.[8] Different sources stating different number of people (over 60 to 100) who were killed in this massacre. Among these victims there were also women who rushed to the scene to save their men. More than 120 people were injured.[9] [10][11]

See also


  1. Qaiyum, Abdul, Gold and Guns on the Pathan Frontier, Bombay, 1945
  2. M.S. Korejo (1993) The Frontier Gandhi, his place in history. Karachi : Oxford University Press.
  3. Azad, Abulkalam (1960) India wins freedom. New York, Longmans, Green.
  4. Jalal, Ayesha(1991)The State of Martial Rule: The Origins of Pakistan's Political Economy of Defence. Lahore. Vanguard
  5. Afzal, M. Rafique (2002). Political Parties in Pakistan: 1947–1958, Vol. 1. Islamabad, National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research.
  6. Abdul Qayyum Khan, Served As Pakistani Interior Minister New York Times Published: October 24, 1981. Retrieved 4–11–08
  7. Pakistan: History and Politics, 1947–1971 (1 April 2002) by M.Rafique Afzal p38 OUP Pakistan ISBN 0-19-579634-9
  8. Miscreants and militants DAWN. Retrieved September 15 2008
  9. زه بابړه یم - Noor ul Bashar Naveed
  10. M.S. Korejo (1993). The Frontier Gandhi: His Place in History. Karachi: Oxford University Press.
  11. Afzal, M.Rafique (1 April 2002) Pakistan: History and Politics, 1947–1971.p38 OUP Pakistan ISBN 0-19-579634-9

Further reading

Political offices
Preceded by
Khan Abdul Jabbar Khan
Chief Minister of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
Succeeded by
Sardar Abdur Rashid Khan
Preceded by
Interior Minister of Pakistan
Succeeded by
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
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