A Tribute by Sharmin Malik
The selfless devotion to the Muslims of the sub-continent and the tremendous contribution in the creation of Pakistan is the epitaph that can be written in memory of Khwaja Nooruddin.
A scion of the illustrious Dhaka Nawab Family, the son of Khwaja Mohammad Ashraf, Khwaja Nooruddin entered politics early in life. Born in 1900, he was elected as a member of the Council of the Bengal Provincial League in 1921 and as an alderman in the Calcutta Corporation. His fight for the rights of the Muslims of undivided India began at that very early age and continued relentlessly for the rest of his life.
His struggle in the political arena began with the great resistance he put up to correct the injustices the Muslims faced in the Calcutta Corporation. The refusal of the authorities to correct the wrong doings resulted in his resignation from the Corporation and his induction to the Muslim Majlis of Bengal. He was its Secretary from 1933 to 1938 and was instrumental in bringing cohesion and unity amongst its members – a trait not seen before in its history.
The Muslim League and the Muslim Majlis merged in 1936 and in this merger, the devotion, determination and dedication of many political leaders came to the forefront. Their selfless and untiring effort until a separate homeland for the Muslims of the sub- continent was carved out, cannot go unwritten and unnoticed in Pakistan’s history.
Khwaja Nooruddin’s role in the Bengal Legislative Assembly to which he was elected in 1946 as a member of the Muslim League is replete with instances of the heroic fight he put up, to get for the Muslims of Bengal their just demands and rights. His relentless efforts in the Assembly continued until his resignation in 1947 when Pakistan came into existence.
The political field apart, Khwaja Nooruddin’s name occupies an eminent place in the sports arena in undivided India and eventually in Pakistan. The Mohammedan Sporting Club of which he was the Secretary from 1936 to 1945 occupied an outstanding position in the world of sports in the sub continent. With patrons such as Khwaja Nazimuddin, Sir Adamjee Hajee Dawood, Khan Bahadur G.A.Dossani, M.A.H Ispahani and others, the Club was recognized as India’s premier club. The success of the Muslim football team and its victories in the football field established its supremacy in the game and thrilled the hearts of Muslims from the mountain passes of the Khyber to the dense green jungles of Bengal. Khwaja Nooruddin’s interest in the game continued with the creation of Pakistan and he was appointed Chairman of the Pakistan Football Federation in 1961.
Khwaja Nooruddin’s contribution to journalism in undivided India and later Pakistan served as a guiding light to young Muslim journalists. He was the trustee of the weekly journal, The Musalman, and later was responsible for the publication of the only Muslim evening daily of India, The Star of India. Both newspapers were published in Calcutta.
The year 1942 saw the birth of the first Muslim English daily newspaper published in Calcutta. Khwaja Nooruddin and the great Muslim journalist and writer, Abdur Rahman Siddiqi were co-founders. They struggled against tremendous odds and fought with immense courage for an existence. The Morning News, as the paper was named, played a heroic role in the struggle and creation of Pakistan. In 1948, Khwaja Nooruddin started publication of the newspaper in Dhaka and with a renewed zeal, Morning News, continued its role in the new homeland. In August 1953 the newspaper began simultaneous publication in Karachi and Dhaka. It was a pioneering venture in the field of journalism in the sub continent. Pakistanis from the hill stations of Chittagong to the Valley of Swat heard the clarion call of the newspaper and were able to get information from both wings of the country on the same day.
The major shareholders sold Morning News to the National Press Trust of Pakistan in 1964. Khwaja Nooruddin’s journalistic career came to an end with his resignation to the trustees. It was a sad end of a twenty- five year old mission.