Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan

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Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan was one among those who played very active role in the Punjab politics in the most turbulent period of its history. He belonged to the Khattars family of big landlords in the locality of Attock (formerly known as Campbellpur) District. The family had strong contacts with British authorities due to its influence in the local politics.

Nawab Mohammad Hayat, the father of Sir Sikandar Hayat, served the British government first as police inspector, then Tehsildar at Tallagang and finally as an Assistant Commissioner. Sikandar Hayat was born on June 5, 1892 at Multan, where his father was posted. Soon after his father’s death he was sent to Aligarh to receive his education from Oriental Collegiate High School. Thereafter Sikandar Hayat left for England for higher studies but came back in July1910 without any degree. During the First World War he joined the British army and rose to the position of Captain. Since he was interested in Commerce and Industry he left the army and remained the managing director of a number of commercial concerns.

In 1924 he was elected as member of the Punjab Legislative Council from Attock District and joined the Unionist Party of Sir Fazl-i-Hussain. He headed the Punjab Reforms Committee and worked for Simon Commission. In 1932 he held the post of Governor of Punjab as acting Governor. In 1936 he was voted as the new Chief of the Unionist Party, which under his leadership got 96 seats out of 175 in the provincial elections of 1936. From 1937 to 1942 he served as the first Chief Minister of Punjab.

Sikandar Hayat recognized the interest of the Muslim community as a whole and infused new life into Muslim League when he joined it after he came to compromise with the Quaid-i-Azam in 1937. He also advised other Unionist members to follow him to offset “the tide of Congress totalitarianism”. Thereafter Sikandar Hayat fully supported the Quaid-i-Azam up to the last moment. On March 11, 1941 when the Quaid wanted the Muslim members of National Defence Council to resign, he not only faithfully carried out the League mandate but also persuaded A.K. Fazl-ul-Haq to do the same. Thus the Punjab Ministry, though not the Muslim League Government, created no problem for the League during his prime ministership.

Sikandar Hayat passed away on December 26, 1942, while he was busy in the wedding celebrations of his two eldest sons and daughter. He was buried in Badshahi mosque near Iqbal’s tomb.

This article was last updated on Monday, Jan 01, 2007