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This photograph taken by the prominent photographer of the Pakistan Movement, Faustin Elmer Chaudhry, shows Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah in animated conversation with a group of students on the lawns of the University of Punjab, Lahore, on January 7, 1946 (top row).

Students, particularly from the Punjab, play a pivotal role in the 1945 general elections. The elections are vital for the Muslim League because failure to win the Muslim seats will mean that further discussion on the demand for Pakistan will be dismissed by the Congress and the British Government. Consequently, the Muslim League moves to mobilise Muslim students. Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan exhorts the students of the Aligarh Muslim University to give up their studies for a period of time and campaign for the Muslim League. A training camp is set up on campus and students are given training courses before they are sent to various parts of the province. An election office opens in Islamia College in Lahore and the Punjab Muslim Students’ Federation establish an election board to spread the Muslim League’s message. Two hundred students are deputed to tour 20 constituencies covering 400 villages. By the end of the campaign, the Muslim League says 60,000 villages are visited by their student campaigners. As a result of this massive student mobilisation, a remarkable victory is achieved by the Muslim League, obliterating the failure of the 1936-37 elections.

Women leaders of the Muslim League are released from Punjab Jail in March 1947 (bottom row). First row, from left to right: Begum Nasira Kiani, Begum Jahanara Shah Nawaz; second row (behind Begum Shah Nawaz, left to right): Miss Mumtaz Shah Nawaz, Fatima Begum, Dr Hassan Ara Begum and Begum Kamal-ud-din. Begum Salma Tasadduque Hussain stands behind Miss Shah Nawaz.

Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan dies in 1942. Determined to prevent any attempt by Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah to intervene in the politics of the Punjab, his successor, Malik Khizar Hayat Khan Tiwana, disregards the Jinnah-Sikandar pact of 1937. When negotiations fail, Malik Khizar Hayat Khan Tiwana is expelled from the Muslim League. The 1945 elections confirm the Muslim League as the single largest party in the Punjab Legislature. Yet, the British Government does not call upon them to form the government; they ask Malik Khizar Hayat Khan Tiwana to cobble together a majority government through a coalition with the Hindu and Sikh members of the assembly. This leads to a civil disobedience campaign in the Punjab and then mass agitation, when Muslim League leaders are arrested in January 1947. Undaunted, the women of the Muslim League defy the ban on demonstrations and court arrest. Eventually, the coalition government is paralysed, Malik Khizar Hayat Khan Tiwana resigns and governor rule is imposed.

The women, like the students, play a pivotal role in enabling the creation of Pakistan. (photos: Lahore Museum Archives)

Published in Dawn, August 7th, 2017

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