Maulana Zafar Ali Kahn, writer, journalist and politician, was born in Karamabad on January 18, 1873 where he spent his earlier years and also his last days. He belonged to a learned family of Karamabad district, Gujranwala. He received his early education in Wazirabad and Patiala.

After completing his intermediate at Aligarh, he joined the postal department of the state of Jammu and Kashmir but resigned over a row with his seniors. He rejoined the Aligarh College, graduated, and served as private secretary to the vice-chancellor of the college, Nawab Mohsinul Mulk, who sent him to Darul Tarjuman at Hyderabad Deccan. Although he did sizable translation work there, he left for Bombay after developing differences with the Home Secretary of Deccan Nawab Sarbuland.

He was one of the most eminent personalities of the Indian sub-continent who possessed extraordinary abilities ranging from oratory to poetry and from politics to journalism. Due to his extraordinary talent he got prominence among the great political leaders of his time, who were busy in their struggle for an independent sovereign state for the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent.

Maulana Zafar Ali Khan inherited ‘Zimidar’ from his father Maulvi Sirajuddin Ahmed Khan and used this newspaper meticulously to launch his anti-imperialism campaign. He rendered incomparable services to the Pakistan Movement and rightly deserved to be acknowledged as the father of Urdu journalism. His columns, published in Zamindar, played a remarkable role in the awakening of the Muslims and in forming their political outlook. He possessed exceptional courage and amazing spirit. He never cared different warnings of the government and ignored them contemptuously. He faced imprisonment but never bowed before the government.

The government’s abhorrence against Zimidar was actually a conflict between truth and deceit. It was a war between Maulana Zafar Ali Khan whose pen was the custodian of the millions of Muslims. The foreign government was suppressing the rights of the Indians with its might, but Maulana was undeterred. Through his columns he exposed government’s oppression meted out to the Indians. He was determined to throw out the British from India. In, 1934 when the Punjab government banned Zimidar, he, sued and got the government orders revoked by the court.

Apart from his magnificent potential of journalism, Maulana Zafar Ali Khan had incredible gift of rhyme. His poetry was a beautiful blend of religious fervour and political sentiments. He had the ability to say extempore verses. He was a passionate devotee of the Prophet and his Naatia poetry would enthrall the audience. His poetical harvest was published in “Baharistan”, “Nigaristan”, and “Chamanistan”.

Following his father’s death, Maulana Zafar Ali Khan moved to Lahore and took over Zamindar which became mouthpiece for Muslim anti-colonial politics. He joined the All-India Congress Committee and emerged as a fiery and powerful commentator.

While his agitational attitude earned him popularity, it also resulted in multiple incarcerations. During his time in jail, he composed some powerful devotional poetry. During this period he was a bitter critic of the All-India Muslim League. But when the Sangathan/Shuddhi movements began to gain popularity, he started harboring doubts about Congress’ Hindu leadership. And in 1945-46 he was elected to the Central Legislative Assembly as a Muslim League nominee. He was a key agitator in the Shahidgunj Mosque dispute and several other anti-British movements.

Maulana Zafar Ali penned 30 books, including seven collections of poetry, most notably: Baharistan, Nigaristan and Chamanistan. Some of his other well-known works are: Marka-e-Mazhab-o-Science, Ghalba-e-Rum, Sayr-e-Zulmet, and an opera Jang-e-Roos-o-Japan.

Maulana Zafar Ali Khan played an important role in the Pakistan Movement. In his hands the Zamindar became the most influential Urdu daily of Northern India and his role in politics was second only to that of the Ali Brothers and Abul Kalam Azad during the Khilafat movement. Zafar Ali Khan will always be remembered for his services to this nation and to the Urdu language. His courage and perseverance was remarkable.