Meeting with Miss Frost, Rahmat Ali’s former secretary

on June 2nd 1971

Miss Frost said she first met Rahmat Ali in 1932 or 1933 when she went to see Miss Watson to seek a room. She met Rahmat Ali on the doorstep and got talking to him.

He obtained his place at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, by coming and asking for it. Miss Frost said his father took some persuasion to allow his son to go to England, but would only give his consent on condition that he did not dance. (Western style)

Rahmat Ali came up with the idea of the name ‘Pakistan’ while riding on the top of a London bus.

During, the war, about 1942, he went to America, and that part of India which was to become Pakistan. She thought he met Jinnah, but was not at all certain of this. Rahmat Ali was convinced that somebody tried to poison him during this visit. Miss Frost said he was always afraid of being robbed or murdered, but he may have had good reason. He would always insist that addresses, names, and identities of hotels not be mentioned specifically in correspondence. Rahmat Ali certainly corresponded with Jinnah, but Jinnah was not interested. Rahmat Ali became disillusioned with Jinnah as early as 1937 or 1938.

Miss Frost described Rahmat Ali was being "purely and simply an idealist". He would often work into the small hours of the morning, and then sleep it off. He "had a wide correspondence, but no real following". They were always printing thousands of leaflets and broadsheets about his ideas on establishing separate states the for Muslim (and other) communities in the sub continent, and sending letters and items to the press and anyone else they could think of. He used to draft his publications by hand. Sometimes he would re-draft them ten or twenty times. He was always very anxious to find the right word. He used to use Roget’s Thesaurus to help him. Miss Frost used to help him in his research in the Cambridge University Library where they used to go to check facts, especially historical facts. The leaflets were mostly sent to schools and colleges in India. He would often rush down to the sorting office to catch the post, regardless of whether it really mattered or not. He once paid the taxi driver in postage stamps, since he did not have any cash. He sometimes managed to get a letter printed in the English Press.

When he was studying for his degree as an undergraduate, his mind was not always on his studies. He tended to do all his revision in a frantic fortnight before the exam. As time passed, he became more and more serious and less light-hearted.

The Master of Emmanuel, Edward Welbourne admired him, but did not want to get too involved in his dream. He was too much of an individualist with odd habits to have got on living in the college, hence it was to the mutual advantage of both Rahmat Ali and the college that he lived outside it and not inside.

He believed that he had been given the gift of being able to cure chickenpox. This he believed he had received in response to saving a child’s life. His method of treatment was to stand over the afflicted patient and say some lines from the Quran which would then "do the trick.".

Miss Frost eventually became his housekeeper as well as his secretary and says she looked after him and made sure he got proper food. She says he was a very demanding person, insisting on having meals at all hours.

Miss Frost says he was shattered by the events associated with Partition in 1947 and 1948. He had expected people would have to fight to create Pakistan, but he never imagined the horrors of the communal rioting and mass murder which took place. He lost his lands in Partition, but continued to pay Miss Frost, even though he was then hard up. His private means were his only means of support.

He broke with Miss Frost in a personal quarrel in September 1950 and died in 1951. He quarrelled with all his old friends except an Egyptian, Dr. Ezzat Abou Hindia, of the Royal Geographic Society, India. The man was with Rahmat Ali when he suffered the fatal coronary. It proved impossible to trace Dr Hindia subsequently. Edward Welbourne paid for Rahmat Ali’s funeral. He was later reimbursed by the government of Pakistan.

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