Abdur Rab Nishtar

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Abdur Rab Nishtar
سردار عبد الرب نښتر
2nd Governor of West Punjab
In office
2 August 1949 24 November 1951
Monarch George IV
Preceded by Francis Mudie
Succeeded by I I Chundrigar
1st Minister of Communications
In office
15 August 1947 1 August 1949
Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded by Sardar Bahadur Khan
Personal details
Born13 June 1899
Peshawar, British India
Died14 February 1958 (aged 58)
Karachi, Pakistan
Nationality Pakistani
Political party Pakistan Muslim League
Education Edwardes College
Alma mater University of Punjab (B.A)
Aligarh Muslim University (L.L.B)

Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar (13 June 1899 14 February 1958; Pashto : سردار عبد الرب نښتر) was a Muslim League stalwart, a Pakistan movement leader and activist and later on a Pakistani politician from North-West Frontier Province (present-day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa). [1]


Early life and education

Abdul Rab Nishtar was born on 13 June 1899 into a religious household in Peshawar, British India. His father, Maulvi Abdul Hannan was a prominent figure from the Pashtun Kakar tribe that had fiercely opposed the British raj in India. [1] [2] Nishtar's ancestors hailed from Zhob district in north Balochistan but had later settled in Peshawar, British India. He completed his early education in a Christian mission school and later Sanathan Dharam High School in Bombay, (now 'Mumbai' in India). He eventually graduated from the Edwardes College in Peshawar and then later on completed his Bachelor of Arts degree from the Punjab University, Lahore in 1923. He later went to Aligarh and received an LL.B degree with honours from Aligarh Muslim University in 1925. [1] [2]

Political career

A man of deep religious convictions, he also had a deep interest in Islamic mysticism, a fact which probably reflects the influence of his parents and also his associate Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar. From 1919 to 1920, both of them actively participated in the Khilafat Movement. Later, Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar remained member of Indian National Congress from 1927 to 1931, was elected Municipal Commissioner, Peshawar Municipal committee, successively from 1929 to 1938, joined All-India Muslim League, became a confidante of Pakistan's founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah. From 1932 to 1936, Nishtar was a member of All India Muslim League (AIML) Council, member NWFP (Northwest Frontier Province) legislative Assembly 1937 to 1945, Finance Minister NWFP 1943–45, member AIML Working Committee, 1944–1947, represented the All India Muslim League at the Simla Conference in 1945. [3] [1]

Abdur Rab Nishtar was ousted from provincial politics through the political maneuvers of a rival political leader Abdul Qayyum Khan in 1946. [2] Abdul Qayyum Khan was an outcaste from the Indian National Congress Party, who then vigorously opposed that political party after his ouster from it, [4] especially he was against the union of the Indian subcontinent in a single country and was working for the creation of an independent Muslim state. [5] [1]

As Federal Minister

After the Dominion of Pakistan was created, Nishtar was appointed Minister for communication in Pakistan and served in that position from 1947 to 1949. He introduced the use of Urdu language in Pakistan railways and Pakistan Post Office. After the dismissal of the Punjab Provincial government in 1949, Sardar Nishtar was appointed Governor of Punjab (the first Pakistani governor in Pakistan's history, till that time the British government had still continued governing with previous English Governors). He effectively ran the Governorship for two years paving the way for restoration of an elected government in 1951. [1] [2]

Nomination for Prime Minister

Nishtar was considered a serious contender for the post of Prime Minister after Liaqat Ali Khan's assassination. His appointment was blocked by senior secularists and liberal officials including the future President Iskander Mirza because of Nishtar's conservative and Islamic views.

Became Opposition Leader against corrupt politicians

He subsequently fell out with the government over the dismissal of Prime minister Khawaja Nazimuddin's government by Governor General Ghulam Muhammad. [6] Refusing to be involved in what he perceived as an undemocratic act, Nishtar went into opposition. In 1956, when the first Pakistani constitution was adopted, Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar was elected president of the party against the wishes of President Iskandar Mirza and then prime minister Chaudhry Mohammad Ali who were backing Dr. Khan Sahib as West Pakistan chief minister while Nishtar wanted an Muslim League man for the office. But a big majority of the League leaders, including Nawab Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani and Mumtaz Daultana, supported Iskander Mirza. [7]

Leader of Muslim League

He subsequently took over the leadership of the Muslim League party and the League was expected to do well in West Pakistan in the planned 1959 elections but unfortunately he died before that. He served as President, Pakistan Muslim League from 1956 to 1958. [2]

Commemorative postage stamp

Pakistan Post Office issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor in its 'Pioneers of Freedom' series in 1990. [8] [9]

Death and legacy

Abdur Rab Nishtar died of a heart attack on 14 February 1958 in Karachi. He had been suffering from heart disease and high blood pressure since 1953. Nishtar Medical College and Nishtar Hospital in the city of Multan are named in his honor. Nishtar Park and Nishtar Road in Karachi are named after him. He was buried at Mazar-e-Quaid near the Tomb of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founding father of Pakistan to acknowledge his services in the cause of Pakistan. Abdul Rab Nishtar had a reputation of being a sincere political leader and a man of amicable nature. With his political activities, he contributed greatly to All-India Muslim League and the Muslims living in the Indian subcontinent, creating political consciousness and Islamic spirit among them. [1] [2]

Abdul Rab Nishtar was a close friend of both Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar and Maulana Shaukat Ali. At one point during their association, Muhammad Ali Jauhar had told Nishtar that he opposed Jinnah for re-organization of the All-India Muslim League. After finding out all the details of Jinnah-Jauhar discussion, Nishtar decided to support Jinnah's proposal and even succeeded in convincing Jauhar to do the same. [1]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Abdur Rab Nishtar Biography on storyofpakistan.com website Retrieved 7 October 2019
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Sardar Abdul Rab Nishtar profile (scroll down to see this profile)". Overseas Pakistanis Foundation website. Archived from the original on 4 December 2005. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  3. Abdur Rab Nishtar profile on Pioneers of Freedom website Retrieved 7 October 2019
  4. Robert Aura Smith, Divided India (Read Books, 2007), pp. 241–242
  5. Rajmohan Gandhi, Patel: a Life, p. 416
  6. Profile of Governor General Ghulam Muhammad on storyofpakistan.com website Updated 1 June 2003, Retrieved 8 October 2019
  7. Syed Jaffar Ahmed (26 August 2017). "Enter the invisible oligarchy (political maneuvers by Malik Ghulam Muhammad)". Dawn (newspaper). Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  8. Abdur Rab Nishtar commemorative postage stamp 'Pioneers of Freedom' series (1990) on State Bank of Pakistan Museum website Retrieved 8 October 2019
  9. Abdur Rab Nishtar (enlarged postage stamp image) on Google.com website Retrieved 8 October 2019


Syed Mujawar Hussain Shah, Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar: A Political Biography (Lahore, Qadiria Books, 1985).

Political offices
Preceded by
Francis Mudie
Governor of Punjab
Succeeded by
I.I. Chundrigar