Mahmud Husain Khan (5 July 1907 – 12 April 1975) was a Pakistani academic, educationist, and politician, credited with pioneering the study of social sciences in Pakistan. A supporter of the Pakistan Movement, he was appointed Minister of State for both Defence and Foreign Affairs in 1949, before serving as Minister for Education from 1952 to 1953.
Returning to academia, Husain taught as visiting professor at Heidelberg University and Columbia University during the 1960s. He served as vice-chancellor of Dhaka University from 1960 to 1963, and of Karachi University from 1967 until his death in 1975. A proponent of greater rights for East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, Hussain emerged a vocal critic of Pakistan's military action in 1971, but was unsuccessful.
Mahmud Husain was born in Qaimganj, United Provinces, British India to Fida Husain Khan, a lawyer, and Naznin Begum. The youngest of seven sons, he was the brother of Dr Zakir Hussain, the third President of India, and Yousuf Hussain. He was also the uncle of Masud Husain Khan, and the father-in-law of General Rahimuddin Khan.
Mahmud Husain's family were ethnic Afridi Pashtuns whose roots were in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, modern-day Pakistan; He was the father of Anwar Husain a famous compare and former managing director of Pakistan Television Corporation. His ancestor Husain Khan migrated from Kohat to Qaimganj in 1715. He attended Islamia High School, Etawah and Aligarh Government High School.
He was part of the first batch of students to be admitted into the newly established Jamia Milia Islamia, where he was heavily influenced by the ideas of Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar. He received his PhD from the University of Heidelberg in Germany in 1932. Mahmud Husain started his career in academia as a reader of modern history at the University of Dhaka in 1933, where he became provost, Fazlul Haq Hall in 1944 and professor of international relations in 1948.
Unlike Zakir Husain, Mahmud Husain was a strong proponent of the Pakistan Movement, and entered politics in 1949. He was elected Member of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan the same year from the Muslim League, and also elected Secretary of the Muslim League's Parliamentary Group. In 1949, he was appointed both Minister of State for Defense and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Commonwealth Relations in the cabinet of Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, before becoming State Minister for State and Frontier Regions a year later. In 1951, he was appointed Minister for Kashmir Affairs in Liaquat's cabinet, and then served as Minister for Education from 1952 to 1953.
Following anti-Ahmadiyya riots in 1953, Governor-General Ghulam Muhammad imposed martial law in Lahore, and dismissed the government of Prime Minister Khawaja Nazimuddin soon after. Mahmud Hussain retired from politics when the assembly was dissolved.
Mahmud Husain returned to academia in 1953. He joined Karachi University as its first professor of international relations and history. He also began the faculties of journalism and library science, the first in Pakistan, despite resistance. Mahmud Hussain also laid the foundation of the Library Association in 1957 and served as its president for fifteen years. He instituted the greater induction of social sciences into the national curriculum.
Mahmud Husain was a known supporter of greater rights for East Pakistan and was appointed vice-chancellor of the University of Dhaka in 1960. During his tenure until 1963, Mahmud Husain refused government requests to intervene in mass student protests against President Ayub Khan and martial law. During and after his tenure, he became a vocal critic of the government's handling of East Pakistan, and urged integration.
He also taught as visiting professor at his alma mater Heidelberg University (1963–64), Columbia University (1964–65) and University of Pennsylvania (1965–66). In 1966, Mahmud Hussain Khan went back to the University of Karachi as professor of history and worked there as the dean of its Faculty of Arts until 1971. He was appointed vice-chancellor of the University of Karachi in 1971. He strongly and vocally opposed the army operation in East Pakistan in 1971 but to no avail. He died while serving as vice-chancellor on 12 April 1975.
Mahmud Husain was fluent in Urdu, English, German, and Persian, writing primarily in the former. His best-known works are Urdu translations: Mahida-i-Imrani (1935) from Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Social Contract, and Badshah (1947), a translation of Machiavelli's The Prince. His other books include The Quest for an Empire (1937), and Fatah-i-Mujahideen (1950), an Urdu translation of Zainul Abideen Shustri's Persian treatise on Tipu Sultan.Dr. Mahmud Husain Road, Jamshed Town, Karachi 24°52′21″N 67°3′54″E
Mahmud Husain Library: On 12 April 1976, a year to his death, the Karachi University Syndicate renamed the Karachi University Library to the Dr. Mahmud Husain Library by unanimous resolution.