A Handwara journalist gave Pakistan its name, research establishes

by Tahir Bhat

SRINAGAR: A Pakistani historian and poet has conclusively established that it was a Kashmiri journalist who gave Pakistan its name, as early as 1928, almost 19 years before it became a reality. The research has closed the academic manhunt for the person who used the word “Pakistan” for the first time, which eventually became the name of a new country that was carved out of British ruled India.

Aqeel Abbas Jafiri, who is currently heading the Urdu Lughat Board ( The Board for Urdu Dictionary) has written a detailed piece to establish that it was a Kashmiri journalist Ghulam Hassan Shah Kazmi, who used the word Pakistan for the first time in 1929, when he applied for a declaration of an Urdu weekly newspaper with this name. He wanted to publish Pakistan from Abbottabad.

“He moved an application on July 1, 1928, for a declaration of a weekly newspaper,” Jafiri wrote in the long piece that appeared on dawnnews website. “This was for the first time in the history of the subcontinent in which the word Pakistan was used.”

Who Was Kazmi?

Kazmi was born on September 24, 1905, in Uter Machipora, which is part of the Handwara belt in north Kashmir Kupwara district. After his basic education locally, Kazmi migrated to Lahore for higher studies, according to the report.

Alama Ghulam Hasan Shah Kazmi

In Lahore, he stayed with his maternal uncle Lal Hussain Kazmi. He was taught by Jan Muhammad Qadri, Moulana Abdul Rehman Naqshbandi, and Moulana Asgar Ali. Jafiri says Lal Hussain was initially a public servant but because of his political activism, he was expelled and interned from Lahore for some time. When he returned home, he joined the most popular newspaper of his time Zamindar that was being published by Moulana Zafar Ali Khan.

Journalism, then, was an interesting exercise. The right to speech was the discretion of the British masters and the punishment for exceeding the brief was at least two years of detention. In order to manage that, Jaferi says, Zafar Ali Khan would keep a couple of dummy editors who would go to jail for two years so that the newspaper would continue publishing without interruptions.

After Lal Hussain Kazmi was arrested for two years for writing a piece, Moulana Zafar Ali Khan hired Alama Ghulam Hasan Shah Kazmi, his relative as an editor. When Kazmi wrote a harsh copy criticising the British policy on Afghanistan, the government reacted and arrested him for two years, Jafiri’s research has established. He was held by the British government in Campbellpur (now called Attock), Lahore and Multan jails.

Once freed, Hasan Shah Kazmi came to Srinagar and associated himself with an unidentified newspaper. Later, he went to Bombay where he was employed by a publishing house Muzfari And Company in Bhindi Bazaar.

It was during his stay in Bombay, that Kazmi moved an application on July 1, 1928, before the government in Abbottabad seeking a declaration for publishing a weekly newspaper Pakistan. “This was for the first time that the word Pakistan was used anywhere in the subcontinent,” Jaferi writes. “This application was sent to Deputy Commissioner Abbottabad through S A Aziz Chisti, who was district president of Majlis-e-Itehad-e-Mili, Abbottabad.”

Jefiri says Chisti wrote a letter to the Deputy Commissioner as well in which he sought an appointment with the DC to discuss Kamzi’s proposal of publishing the Pakistan newspaper.

Interestingly, the response came from the same day. It was rejected. However, Kazmi was informed by his brother Meran Shah on May 21, 1929, that his request for publishing Pakistan newspaper was rejected by the government.

Alama Ghulam Hasan Shah Kazmi

Kazmi did not lose his interest in the name or the newspaper. He applied again, this time, in 1935. A year later, on May 1, weekly Pakistan started publishing from Abbottabad. “Why did we chose the word Pakistan for this newspaper?” Kazmi wrote in the first issue of this weekly. “We wanted to use this name because non-Muslims are scared by this name and I wanted to tell them that it is not a dangerous name.”

The Pakistan newspaper, however, was short-lived. In 1937, there were elections and Dr Khan became the leader in Frontier province. In 1938, he ceased the publication and the weekly newspaper died.

With his Pakistan closed, Kazmi moved back to Srinagar where he became editor a newspaper Haqeeqat. It was 1939. Later, he migrated to Muzaffarabad where he lived in Thangar Sharief village where he continued his writings. Jafiri says Kazmi knew Urdu, English, Persian, Gurmukhi, Arabic, Punjabi, Hindko and Pashto and has written 127 books, some of which are still unpublished. He died on September 14, 1984.

Narrative Changed

Jafiri’s investigation has changed the entire discourse associated with the coining of word Pakistan in the history of the country. Pakistan was born as a sovereign country on August 14, 1947.

There have been two major records about coinage of the word Pakistan. The first is about Choudhary Rehmat Ali who has used the word Pakistan in his booklet Now or Never that was published on January 28, 1933. The book was published by Cambridge In fact, his grave in Cambridge has a gravestone with the inscription: Ban-ie-Tehreek-e-Pakistan, Khaliq-e-Lafz-e-Pakistan (The founder of Pakistan movement and the creator of word Pakistan).

Aqeel Abbas Jafiri

Researchers had earlier stated that Choudhary, while going through a book on the Soviet Empire by Sir Olaf Kirkpatrick Kruuse Caroe had found a name Karakul Pakistan, which was a small state. It was a Turk origin race living in an autonomous state on a delta on Amu Dariya in Uzbekistan, of which it is a part now.

Khalid Ahmad, a top linguistic in his The Bridge of the Worlds’ has also upheld this belief that Choudhary was the first person to use the word. The region still uses a language that is called Karakul Pak.

But Jafiri says that since Choudhary was in India and was working on the Muslim issues, there was a possibility of him knowing the word from Kazmi, who must have known him. Jafiri’s investigation has conclusively established that Choudhary was not the first person. The controversy is finally settled. Pakistan will have to revisit its curriculum and the official history. It is Handwara and not Cambridge wherefrom the creator of Pakistan came, a word that has a country now.

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