Birthday: September 8, 1892
Died At Age: 71
Sun Sign: Virgo
Born Country: India
Born in: Midnapore, Bengal, British India
Famous as: Former Prime Minister of Pakistan
Spouse/Ex-: Begum Niaz Fatima, Vera Alexandrovna Tiscenko Calder
father: Zahid Suhrawardy
mother: Khujastha Akhtar Banu
siblings: Hasan Shaheed Suhrawardy
children: Begum Akhtar Sulaiman
Died on: December 5, 1963
place of death: Beirut, Lebanon
Cause of Death: Cardiac Arrest
Founder/Co-Founder: Bangladesh Awami League
education: Delegacy for Non-Collegiate Students, University of Calcutta, St. Xavier's College - Kolkata, St Catherine's College - Oxford, University of Oxford, Aliah University
Who was Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy?
Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy was an Indian-Pakistani politician and lawyer, who became the fifth Prime Minister of Pakistan. His political career spanned pre-independence India and undivided Pakistan. Born into a wealthy and esteemed Bengali Muslim family, he acquired education at prestigious institutes in India and England. He trained in law in England and continued to practice law after returning to India in the 1920s. He got heavily involved with politics, especially upholding Muslim interests in Bengal. He was elected to several prestigious positions during his career, including portfolios like law, labour, commerce in the provincial administration of Bengal. He rose to become the Prime Minister of Bengal in 1946. He was accused of instigating massive riots in 1946 that killed many, and was thus, nicknamed ‘Butcher of Bengal’. He was an early supporter of the creation of Pakistan. After partition, he held several political positions in undivided Pakistan, the highest being that of the Prime Minister. After his ouster from that position, he retired from politics. He was married twice and several landmarks are named after him in Bangladesh.
Childhood & Early Life
Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy was born on September 8, 1892, in Midnapore, India. His father, Justice Sir Zahid, was a judge at the Calcutta High Court and his mother, Khujastha Akhtar Banu, was the first Indian woman to pass the ‘Senior Cambridge’ exam.
He belonged to a very illustrious Bengali Muslim family, who were known for their high-class background, wealth and education. He had an older brother, Hasan, who was a linguist.
Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy completed his basic education at Calcutta Madrassa and then acquired a BSc. degree from St. Xavier’s College in Calcutta (present day Kolkata).
In 1913, he completed his MA in Arabic Language and went to ‘Oxford University’ on a scholarship.
In 1920, he passed out of St. Catherine’s College at Oxford University with MA in Political Science and BCL degrees.
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From 1922 to 1923, he trained as Barrister-at-law at Gray’s Inn, England. Thereafter, he returned to India and began practicing law at the Calcutta High Court. During this time, he also became active in politics by getting elected as a member of the Bengal Legislative Assembly on Muslim League’s ticket.
In 1924, he emerged as a prominent leader of Khilafat Movement. In April that year, he became the Deputy Mayor of Calcutta after joining the Swaraj Party, with whom he soon parted ways.
Throughout the 1930s, he strongly promoted Muslim communal interests, supported the creation of Pakistan and gathered support for the ‘Pakistan Movement’.
In 1936, he was appointed as the secretary-general of the Bengal chapter of the Muslim League.
In 1937, he is said to have founded the United Muslim Party in Calcutta and joined politician, Mohammed Ali Jinnah. He formed a coalition with Fazlul Huq’s party to win the Bengal elections that year and was appointed Provincial Minister of Labor and Commerce.
In 1943, he was appointed as the Provincial Minister of Civil Supplies, and it was during his tenure that the tragic famine of Bengal took place which took millions of lives.
In April 1946, he was elected the ‘Premier of Bengal’. On August 16, the infamous riots of Calcutta, ‘the Great Calcutta Killings’, took place that saw the killings of several Hindus. He was criticized for inciting the riots on account of his ‘Direct Action Day’ speech supported by Jinnah.
In 1947, on the eve of India’s partition, he floated the idea of a united Bengal not associated with Pakistan or India, an alternative to the partition of Bengal. Not receiving much support, the idea was shelved, effectively ending his position as ‘Premier of Bengal’ on August 14 that year.
In March 1949, he left for Pakistan and co-founded ‘Awami League’ after being ousted from the Muslim League in Bengal.
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In 1953, he was appointed Minister of Law and Justice in Pakistani Prime Minister Mohammad Ali Bogra’s administration, where he was responsible for drafting the ‘Constitution of Pakistan’ and unification of East and West Pakistan.
On September 12, 1956, he was appointed the Prime Minister of Pakistan in Karachi, Pakistan.
On October, 17, 1957, he had to resign from his post due to the political turmoil in Pakistan at that time. In 1960, he retired from politics.
Family & Personal Life
In 1920, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy married Begum Niaz Fatima, an illustrious politician’s daughter. In 1922, his wife passed away after giving birth to his children, son, Ahmed (who died while studying in London), and daughter, Jahan.
In 1940, he married Russian theatre performer, Vera Alexandrovna Tiscenko, who he met in Russia through his brother.
He had a son with Vera, Rashid, who died in 2019.
In 1951, he divorced Vera after a bitter fight over the distribution of his wealth.
On December 5, 1963, he died of a cardiac arrest in Beirut, Lebanon.
A British era race course, Ramna Race Course, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, was renamed after him as ‘Suhrawardy Udyan’.
A major road in Islamabad, Pakistan, ‘Khayaban-e-Suhrawardy’, is named after him.
Several institutions in Bangladesh have been named after him, like 'Government Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy College’ in Magura, and 'Government Shaheed Suhrawardy College’ and ‘Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital’ in Dhaka.
In 1991, his niece, Shaista Suhrawardy Ikramullah, penned his biography ‘Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy: A Biography’.
In 2018, he was mentioned in detail, though in a negative light, in American author, Deborah Baker’s book ‘The Last Englishmen’.
His family is said to hail from the Iraqi city of Suhraward, from where he gets his last name.
In 1998, his son, Rashid, who went by the name ‘Robert Ashby’, depicted Indian politician Jawaharlal Nehru in the film ‘Jinnah’.