Notables of Jammu & Kashmir

Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan (1915-2003)

Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan (April 10, 1915 – July 31, 2003) also known as Bani-e-Kashmir, "Father of Kashmir" and Ghazi-e-Millat, "Hero of the Nation", was the founder and first President of Azad Kashmir.

He was born in Kot Mattay Khan, Poonch district, Princely, Jammu and Kashmir State, British India. He received a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in 1935 at Islamia College (Lahore). He obtained his LLB degree from the University of London in 1943. Khan then obtained a law degree from Lincoln's Inn, one of the four Inns of Court in London to which barristers of England and Wales belong and where they are called to the Bar before starting practicing law at Srinagar, Kashmir.

In 1946, one year before Independence, he was elected to the Jammu and Kashmir State Assembly and became a member of the Praja Sabha.

In September 1946, The Muslim Conference passed a resolution in favour of an Azad Kashmir (free Kashmir), though the move was criticised by a lot of people within the party who wanted a clear resolution in support of Pakistan. However, as late as 11 July 1947, Mohammad Ali Jinnah was advising the leaders of the Muslim Conference to work with the Maharaja and support his position of an independent Kashmir. On the 19 July 1947, (1st Ramadan 1366), Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan’s party the Muslim Conference passed a resolution demanded Kashmir affiliate with Pakistan.

In 1947, during the Poonch rebellion, Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan led an army of Kashmiri guerrillas against the Maharaja of Kashmir, Hari Singh.

The Poonchis had a tradition of military service. During the Second World War, over 60,000 Muslims from the Poonch and Mirpur districts enrolled in the British Indian Army. After the war, many of them retained their arms while returning to Jammu and Kashmir.

Poonch was originally an internal jagir (autonomous principality), governed by an alternative family line of Maharaja Hari Singh. The Muslims of Poonch suffered from small landholdings and high taxation and nursed their grievances since 1905. They had also campaigned for the principality to be absorbed into the Punjab province of British India. Since 1938 a garrison of state troops were established in Poonch to keep the population subjugated.

The area liberated from Maharaja Hari Singh, was renamed to Azad Kashmir, and became a self-governing division of Pakistan. Khan was elected as its first President at the age of 32 in 1948. He represented Kashmir in different capacities at the United Nations from 1948 to 1971.

In 1954, at the annual session of the All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference a resolution was passed for the establishment of a proper Legislative Assembly in Azad Kashmir. On 13 April 1957, during the presidency of Pakistani General Yahya Khan the Azad Kashmir Legislative Assembly was established and Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan was elected president of Azad Kashmir, He would go on to serve a total of 4 terms as President, (1948-1950, 1957-59, 1974-78, 1996-2001).