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Habib Rahimtoola

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Monarch  Elizabeth II
Preceded by  Mian Aminuddin
Name  Habib Rehmatullah
Governor-General  Malik Ghulam Muhammad
Succeeded by  Mushtaq Ahmed Gurmani
Died  January 2, 1991

Habib Ibrahim Rahimtoola (Urdu: حبیب ابراہیم رحمت اللہ‎; March 12, 1912 - January 2, 1991) was the first High Commissioner to the UK for Pakistan. He was also the 8th Governor of Sind and 5th Punjab.


Early life and political career

Rahimtoola took his early education at St. Xavier's School and completed his Bachelor of Arts from the same institute. He then proceeded to do Law and completed the LL.B in 1935.

He took on a political career path at an early age and became Secretary General of the Muslim Students Union at his college between 1927 and 1931. After completing his further education Rahimtoola proceeded to business affairs along with being a supporter of the Muslim League. He was founder President of the Bombay Provincial Muslim Chamber of Commerce (1944-47) along with President Federation Muslim Chamber of Commerce Delhi (1947-48).

Following the path to partition of the sub-continent, Habib Rahimtoola canvassed for the Muslim League in the 1946 elections. He was President of the Bombay Muslim League Parliamentary Board for Local Bodies from 1945 till 1947. Simultaneously he also remained President of the Bombay Muslim Students Union from 1946 to 1948. Jinnah had also nominated him to be Senior Member of the Muslims to the Government of India Food Delegation to the United Kingdom and United States in 1946.

By August 1947, Habib Rahimtoola was sent to receive the Independence of Pakistan formally from the British Government. He also held the honor of unfurling the Pakistan Flag abroad for the first time. Rahimtoola remained Ambassador of Pakistan to the United Kingdom during this period from 1947 until 1952. He was the leader of Pakistani delegations including the Inter-Allied Repatriation Agency 1948, Prime Minister’s Conference London 1948, Freedom of the Press Conference 1948, International Trade and Employment Conference Geneva 1948, Commonwealth Finance Ministers Conference 1949, South East Asian Conference on Colombo Plan 1950, G.A.T.T. Conference 1951 and Commonwealth Finance Minister's Conference 1952.

In 1952 Habib Rahimtoola officially formed part of the proclamation of Queen Elizabeth II to the throne of the United Kingdom. In the same year he was appointed as Ambassador to France where he stayed until the end of 1953. During his tenure, In 1953 he led the Pakistani Delegation to UNESCO in Paris.

By 1953 Rahimtoola returned to Pakistan and took over as Governor of Sind. He held the post for just over a year until the end of 1954. In 1954 he was posted to Punjab as Governor.

Other political offices

Apart from being the Governor of Punjab and Governor of Sind, he served as the Federal Minister of Commerce and Industries of Pakistan, chairman Pakistan Red Cross. He continued in public service until his retirement in the late 1970s.

Business affairs

In the late 1950s, he entered private business by setting up an investment company called Bandenawaz (Pvt) Ltd. Habib also served as Minister in various capacities of Commerce, Industries and Petroleum. He also led the Pakistan trade delegations to the Afro Asian Conference in Bundung 1955 and British East Africa 1956. After the declaration of martial law in 1958 under General Ayub Khan, Habib Rahimtoola withdrew from active politics. He was though appointed as Chairman of the newly formed Karachi Development Authority in 1958 – as a post he held until 1960.

During the 1960s Habib Rahimtoola ventured and focused into industrial business. He was Chairman of the Board of Directors of several reputable firms, namely, British Oxygen Limited, Pakistan Cables Limited, United Bank Limited, Brooke Bond Limited, Bandenawaz Limited, Metal Box [Pakistan] Limited, Aspro Nicholas Pakistan Limited, Chambon Pakistan Limited, Organon Pakistan Limited, and Coates Brothers Pakistan Limited.

Following the separation of East Pakistan in 1971, Habib Rahimtoola's business interests suffered a major setback. He however continued his support for Pakistan serving as Chair of the Pakistan Red Cross on the insistence of then President Yahya Khan, followed by the tenure of Zulfiqar Ali Buutto. Rahimtoola was awarded the Pakistan Movement Gold Medal by Prime Minister Junejo in 1987.

He also served on the Boards of various multinational and national companies in Pakistan as either a Director or Chairman, including United Bank Ltd, Eastern Federal Insurance, Brooke Bond, Pakistan Oxygen (now BOC Pakistan), Aspro-Nicholas (now Reckitt Benckiser), Organon Pakistan (part of AkzoNobel) and Pakistan Cables (BICC).

Personal life

Rahimtoola's father Ibrahim Rahimtoola was a well known Indian reformer and parliamentarian. His uncle Jafar Rahimtoola and cousin Hoosenaly Rahimtoola both were active Bombay politicians and remained Mayors accordingly. His brother Fazal Rahimtoola remained an active politician before and after partition of the sub-continent from India. Habib married Zubeida Sultan Chinoy in 1936, and they had two sons and one daughter.


Habib Rahimtoola Wikipedia

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