A jurist and diplomat, Chaudhry Sir Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, KCSI, who served as the first foreign minister of Pakistan and the first Asian and the only Pakistani president for both the UN General Assembly and also the International
Muhammad Zafarullah Khan
A jurist and diplomat, Chaudhry Sir Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, KCSI, who served as the first foreign minister of Pakistan and the first Asian and the only Pakistani president for both the UN General Assembly and also the International Court of Justice was born on 6 February 1893 in Sialkot to Ch. Nasrullah Khan who was the leading attorney of his native town of Daska. He studied at Government College, Lahore and received his LLB from King's College London, in 1914. He was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn, London. He practised law in Sialkot and Lahore.
Zafarullah Khan was elected a member of the Punjab Legislative Council in 1926 and presided at the Delhi meeting of the All-India Muslim League in 1931, where he advocated the cause of the Indian Muslims through his presidential address. He participated at the Round Table Conferences held from 1930 to 1932 and became the Minister of Railways in May 1935. In 1939, he represented India at the League of Nations. He was appointed the Agent General of India in China in 1942 and represented India as the Indian Government's nominee at the Commonwealth Relations Conference in 1945, where he spoke on India's cause for freedom.
In September 1941, Zafarullah Khan was appointed a Judge of the Federal Court of India, a position he, held until June 1947. At the request of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, he represented the Muslim League in July 1947 before the Radcliffe Boundary Commission and presented the case of the Muslims in a highly commendable manner. Zafarullah Khan advised the Nawab of Junagadh that if he decided to join his state with Pakistan, it would be both moral and legal. The Nawab then proceeded to announce his decision.
In October 1947, Zafarullah Khan represented Pakistan at the United Nations General Assembly as head of the Pakistani delegation and advocated the position of the Muslim world on the Palestinian issue. That year, he was appointed Pakistan's first Foreign Minister, a post he held for seven years. Between 1948 and 1954, he also represented Pakistan at the United Nations Security Council where he advocated the liberation of occupied Kashmir, Libya, Northern Ireland, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, and Indonesia.
As Foreign Minister, he represented Pakistan at the Manila Treaty Conference in September 1954. Zafarullah Khan signed the Manila Pact, committing Pakistan's accession to the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO).
In the 1953 bloody Lahore riots, religious extremists called for Zafarullah Khan's expulsion due to his adherence to the Ahmadiyya Muslim faith. This resulted in the first instance of martial law in the history of Pakistan. The pressure from religious extremists finally led to Zafarullah's resignation as Foreign Minister in October 1954.
In 1954, he became a Judge at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, a position he held until 1961. He was the Vice-President of the International Court of Justice from 1958 to 1961. Between 1961 and 1964, he was Pakistan's Permanent Representative at the United Nations. From 1962 to 1964, he was also the President of the UN General Assembly. During his time at the UN, he also represented the State of Palestine in a de facto capacity. He later re-joined the ICJ as a judge from 1964 to 1973, serving as President from 1970 to 1973.
As Pakistan's first Foreign Minister, Zafarullah Khan addressed the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan in the days leading up to the passing of the Objectives Resolution. The Objectives Resolution, which combined features of both Western and Islamic democracy, is one of the most important documents in the constitutional history of Pakistan. It was designed to provide equal rights for all citizens of Pakistan, regardless of their race, religion or background.
Zafarullah Khan was quoted as saying: It is a matter of great sorrow that, mainly through mistaken notions of zeal, the Muslims have during the period of decline earned for themselves an unenviable reputation for intolerance. But that is not the fault of Islam. Islam has from the beginning proclaimed and inculcated the widest tolerance. For instance, so far as freedom of conscience is concerned the Quran says "There shall be no compulsion" of faith...
Sir Zaffrullah Khan is considered one of the most influential, skilled, and passionate diplomats of his time. In a personal tribute, His Majesty King Hussein bin Tallal of Jordan said: "He was indeed a champion of the Arab cause and his ceaseless efforts whether among the Muslim and non-aligned countries or at the International Court of Justice will remain for ever a shining example of a great man truly dedicated to our faith and civilization."
Muhammad Fadhel al-Jamali, a former Prime Minister of Iraq, in a tribute on his death, wrote: "In fact, it was not possible for any Arab, however capable and competent he may be, to serve the cause of Palestine in a manner in which this distinguished and great man dedicated himself. What was the result of the debate in the United Nations is another matter. But, it must be acknowledged that Mohammad Zafrulla Khan occupies a pre-eminent position in defending the Palestinians in this dispute. We except from all Arabs and followers of Islam that they will never forget this great Muslim fighter. After Palestine, the services of this man for the independence of Libya also deserves admiration. In the United Nations, his struggle for the rights of Arabs formed the basis of firm and lasting friendship between us." — Al-Sabah Oct 10, 1985
The DAWN of Karachi admitted that: "He earned the abiding respect and admiration of the Arab and other Muslim nations as a defender of their interests." — Dawn Editorial Sept 3 1985
After living in England from 1973 to 1983, Zafarullah Khan returned to Pakistan. He died in Lahore on 1 September 1985 at the age of 92, following a protracted illness. He was buried in Rabwah, Pakistan, a cemetery established by the Ahmadiyya Community.
Ch. Zafarullah Khan is considered as one of the leading founding fathers of Pakistan and a prominent member of the Ahmadiyya Community in Pakistan. He authored several books both in Urdu and English.