Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Choudhary Rehmat Ali: Man behind the name ‘Pakistan’


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Two nation theory

Mains level: Pakistan's prospected economic default and collapse


In this article, we take you to the history of Pakistan (which is on the brink of its demise) and the facts behind its naming.

Jinnah and Pakistan

  • Muhammad Ali Jinnah is remembered as the founder of Pakistan, its “Qaid e Azam”, or the “Great Leader.”
  • He led a movement that transformed a weak idea of a sovereign Islamic state in British India’s north western provinces into reality.
  • But he was not the first to come up with the idea of Pakistan, nor was he its original champion.

Rehmat Ali: Coining the term ‘Pakistan’

  • Choudhary Rehmat Ali can be credited with coining the “term” Pakistan, styling himself as the “Founder of the Pakistan National Movement”.
  • On January 28, 1933, he released a pamphlet titled “Now or Never: Are we to live or perish forever”.
  • In it he made a vehement “appeal on behalf of the thirty million Muslims of PAKISTAN, who live in the five Northern Units of India… for the recognition of their national status.
  • He highlighted the distinctiveness with the other inhabitants of India citing religious, social and historical grounds.
  • According to many historians, this can be seen as the genesis of the very idea of Pakistan; an idea which would become mainstream by the 1940s.

Ali’s appeal

  • Rehmat Ali’s appeal was as much a critique of Nationalism wave.
  • He distributed pro-Pakistan pamphlets in the Third Round Table Conference (1932).
  • Fearing that the Muslim minority will be subsumed by the Hindu population under the proposed constitution, he advocated for a separate, sovereign entity.
  • For him, British India was not the home of one single nation but rather the designation of a State created by the British for the first time in history.

His idea of Pakistan

  • This nation that Rehmat Ali called his own was Pakistan, including “five Northern Provinces of India” – Punjab (P), North- West Frontier Province or the Afghan Province (A), Kashmir (K), Sindh(S) and Balochistan (tan).
  • He would call its Pakistan.
  • He argued that this region, with its “distinct marks of nationality,” would be “reduced to a minority of one in ten,” in a united Indian federation.

Exposition of the “Two Nation Theory”

  • Rehmat Ali was not a politician. In 1947, Ali’s dream became a reality.
  • Nor did he stay in the subcontinent for much of the 1930s and 1940s when the struggle for Pakistan was taking shape.
  • His contribution to Pakistan are solely limited to his writings and ideas.
  • Unlike Iqbal, more popularly known as the philosopher behind Pakistan’s creation, Ali’s work remained restricted to a far smaller audience.
  • But it was important, arguably essential, for Pakistan’s creation.
  • In his work, we see the most radical exposition of the “Two Nation Theory”, later made famous by Jinnah and the Muslim League.

How Jinnah overtook Rehmat Ali?

  • Things began to change from 1937 onwards, after Jinnah fell out with the Congress.
  • With the leader’s rhetoric turning increasingly separationist, Rahmat Ali’s articulation of Pakistan found its way into mainstream discourse.
  • In 1940, at the Muslim League’s Lahore session, the famous Lahore Resolution was passed.
  • It advocated that the geographical contiguous units in the Muslim-majority areas in India’s “North-Western and Eastern Zones of India, be grouped to constitute Independent States.
  • While this resolution did not mention “Pakistan,” Jinnah’s ideas echoed Rahmat Ali’s.
  • Somewhere between 1940 and 1943, the term “Pakistan” started being used by Jinnah and other Muslim League leaders in their speeches and correspondence.


Try this PYQ:

Q.Mahatma Gandhi undertook fast unto death in 1932, mainly because:

(a) Round Table Conference failed to satisfy Indian political aspirations

(b) Congress and Muslim League had differences of opinion

(c) Ramsay Macdonald announced the Communal Award

(d) None of the statements (a), (b) and (c) given above is correct in this context


Post your answers here.
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