Introduction

A notable politician, diplomat and statesman from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) Mohammad Ali Bogra served as the third Prime Minister of Pakistan. He was born on 19 October 1909 in Barisal to Nawabzada Altaf Ali.

Mohammad Ali Bogra


Professional Achievements



A notable politician, diplomat and statesman from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) Mohammad Ali Bogra served as the third Prime Minister of Pakistan. He was born on 19 October 1909 in Barisal to Nawabzada Altaf Ali. Mohammad Ali, who grew up in the Bogra Estate, attended Presidency College in Calcutta University and prior to that he studied at Hastings House and a madrassa in Calcutta. His grandfather was Syed Nawab Ali Chowdhury, one of the founders of the University of Dhaka.

As member of the All India Muslim League, Mohammad Ali Bogra contested elections from Bogra in 1937. He was elected as an opposition MLA in the Bengal Legislative Assembly. However, his father was a member of the assembly's upper house from the ruling Krishak Praja Party. Ali served in opposition until 1943, when the Muslim League gained power and he was made parliamentary secretary to the Chief Minister of Bengal, Khawaja Nazimuddin.

In 1946, he joined the cabinet of H. S. Suhrawardy, holding the portfolios of health, finance and local-government. As health minister, he founded the Dhaka Medical College and the Calcutta Lake Medical College.

Upon the formation of Pakistan in 1947, Mohammad Ali Bogra was elected to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. During the visit of Governor General Muhammad Ali Jinnah to Dhaka in 1948, Ali dissented on the issue of Bengali being excluded as an official state language. He strongly advised Chief Minister Sir Khawaja Nazimuddin to restrain Governor General Muhammad Ali Jinnah from announcing the measure, but was rebuked.

Furious with Mohammad Ali Bogra’s dissent, Governor General Muhammad Ali Jinnah ordered him a diplomatic assignment. He was offered to be sent as ambassador to Egypt, but Ali chose to serve in neighbouring Burma. Ali was renowned for his diplomatic credentials. He was ambassador in Rangoon in 1948. In 1949, he was appointed High Commissioner to Canada. In 1952, he was made Ambassador to the United States.

In 1953, Mohammad Ali Bogra was recalled to Karachi from Washington DC. He reluctantly accepted the post of Prime Minister under pressure from Governor-General Ghulam Muhammad, as he was a relatively unknown figure in national politics. He succeeded Sir Khawaja Nazimuddin. After taking office, Ali took an initiative to address the Kashmir dispute with India. He met Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on the side-lines of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth.

Ali and Nehru later exchanged state visits. The two men enjoyed a very warm relations. He also led Pakistan to attend the Bandung Conference in Indonesia in 1955, which saw the first high level contact between China and Pakistan. He signed multiple treaties with the United States and brought the two countries closer. He pushed for a stronger military to achieve peace with India, he reasoned ‘When there is more equality of military strength, then I am sure that there will be a greater chance of settlement’.

Mohammad Ali Bogra's other top priority was the formulation of the constitution. In October 1953, he outlined proposals to the Constituent Assembly for a federal parliamentary republic. Known as the Bogra Formula, it called for a bicameral legislature with equal representation from the five provinces. The plan also called for the Supreme Court to replace the clergy-based Board of Ulema in deciding whether laws were in accordance with Islamic principles.

The Bogra Formula was widely welcomed by people in East and West Pakistan. However, Governor General Ghulam Muhammad dissolved the Constituent Assembly in 1954 with the support of Pakistan army. The Governor General was replaced by Major General (Retd.) Iskandar Mirza who forced Mohammad Ali Bogra to resign in 1955. Iskandar Mirza was the minister of Interior under Ali and Ayub Khan was the army chief.

After his resignation, Ali returned to his post as ambassador to the US. In 1962, he briefly served as foreign minister under President Ayub Khan until his death. He was succeeded by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Mohammad Ali Bogra died on 23 January 1963 in Dhaka and is buried on the grounds of the Bogra Nawab Palace in Bangladesh.

He was married twice. His first wife was Begum Hamida Mohammad Ali, with whom he had two sons. He later married Aliya Saddy in 1955. His second marriage led to widespread protests against polygamy by women activists in the country.