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Thursday, October 18, 2001

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dated October 18, 1951: Liaqat Ali Khan shot dead

Pakistan Prime Minister, Liaqat Ali Khan (56), died in Rawalpindi on the 16th soon after he was shot in the chest twice from close range at a public meeting. His assassin, Syed Akbar of Hazara, was pounced upon by the irate crowd and torn to pieces, according to Pakistan Radio. Details received from Pakistan indicated Liaqat Ali had gone to the meeting organised by the Rawalpindi City and Cantonment Muslim Leaque. He arrived at the venue at 3- 45 p.m., greeted by prolonged cries of ``Pakistan Zindabad,'' ``Qaid-e-Azam Zindabad'' and ``Liaqat Ali Zindabad'' from a gathering about 20,000 strong. The meeting commenced with recitation of verses from the Holy Quran. Addresses of welcome were next read and presented. After receiving them, the Premier stood up to speak and had barely uttered a few words, when two shots rang out hitting him in the chest. As he sank down, his Political Secretary, Nawab Siddique Ali Khan, seated behind, rushed to lift the leader up. Bleeding profusely, Liaqat Ali was taken with all possible speed to the Combined Military Hospital. He was administered blood, and top surgeons performed an emergency operation. Reports reaching Karachi soon after the surgery said the Premier's condition was ``satisfactory''. Soon followed the news of his having succumbed. A photographer who had stood close by the dais said that Liaqat Ali's last words were of the Arabic quotation, ``There is no God but One, and Mohammad is his Prophet.'' The Cabinet met in Karachi immediately after the news was received, and expressed its grief at the tragedy. State mourning was ordered for 40 days.

On the 17th morning, Begum Liaqat Ali Khan, dressed in black, stood sobbing at the portico of the airport building in Karachi and Governor-General Khwaja Nazimuddin stood beside her as her husband's body was brought to the capital in the Viking aircraft which Liaqat Ali had used for four years. Wrapped in the Pakistan national flag, the remains were taken to the Prime Minister's residence. In touching scenes that followed, Begum Liaqat Ali broke down when the body was placed in state in the verandah, and Muslim divines sat around the body and read passages from the Quran.

``We had our differences, and criticised each other loudly; but we remained friends. After Qaid-e-Azam Jinnah, he was the dominant leader of Pakistan. He tried to restrain passions, and was a steadying influence. It is sad Liaqat died thus,'' Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, said in New Delhi.

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