Professor Samuel Burke

Samuel Burke
6:31PM GMT 17 Nov 2010  

Courtesy Telegraph.  While we keep crucifying Christians and burning them on the stake, here is the obituary of one of the finest Pakistani patriots who passed away recently. Shame on all the Mullahs who insist on this draconian and inhuman blasphemy law.

After retirement from the diplomatic service he became an academic in the United States, publishing a number of books on the history of India and the politics of Pakistan.

Samuel Martin Burke was born on July 3 1906 at Martinpur, a small Christian village near Faisalabad in what is now Pakistan. His father was the headmaster of a school and wrote poems under the pseudonym Burq (“lightning” in Urdu), which was adopted as the family’s surname. Exceptionally bright, Samuel took a first class degree in History and a masters at the Government College of Lahore before passing the Indian Civil Service (ICS) exams in 1931.

He rose to be a High Court judge and, in the closing phase of British rule in India, served as chairman of the three-man election petitions committee for the Punjab, set up to consider appeals against the results of the general election of December 1945, which had pitted the Congress Party, supporting a united India, against the Muslim League, campaigning for an independent Pakistan.

The commission had been appointed on the recommendation of the then prime minister of the Punjab, Sir Khizer Hayat Khan, whose Unionist Party was propped up by the Congress Party, and was thus regarded with suspicion by the Muslim League. But Burke did not hesitate to give judgments in favour of the League where he felt they were warranted.

While the commission was still sitting, Indian political parties agreed to the formation of Pakistan, and a circular was sent to members of the ICS asking whether they wished to serve India or Pakistan or to retire. Burke felt that the only way he could assure leaders of all the political parties of his continued impartiality was to make it plain that he was not interested in government service in either country. Accordingly, he became the only Asian civil servant who decided to retire on August 15 1947.

By this time, however, his reputation was such that he was invited by both Congress and the League to come out of retirement. Since he had been born in what became Pakistan, he decided to serve in Pakistan.

The West Pakistan government offered him a ministry to represent the Christian minority, but he chose to join the newly-created Foreign Service. He was given charge of the two most important portfolios: India (with which innumerable partition disputes were in progress), and the United Nations (where the Kashmir dispute was being debated in 1948).

His first appointment abroad was in 1949 as counsellor to the High Commission in London. At a time when Pakistan was still wrestling with matters arising from Independence this was the country’s largest foreign mission. In 1952, he was transferred to Washington as counsellor, but was soon promoted to the rank of minister.

Because of recurrent crises with India, Pakistan had decided to request military assistance from the United States, and to earn American goodwill Burke and his English-born wife Louise undertook nationwide speaking tours, his own Christian faith helping to undermine negative stereotypes about his country. His efforts soon began to bear fruit. In the food crisis of 1953, America promptly shipped a large quantity of wheat to Pakistan as a gift.

After Washington, he served as Chargé d’Affaires in Rio de Janeiro, and as Deputy High Commissioner in London. He then became the first Christian head of a Pakistani diplomatic mission, as Minister to Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark from 1953 to 1956. When the Commonwealth heads of mission in Stockholm gave a reception during a state visit of the Queen, they chose Burke to escort her during her walkabout.

After a spell in south-east Asia as first resident ambassador to Thailand, Burke was appointed to his final diplomatic posting, as High Commissioner in Canada from 1959 to 1961, when he signed an agreement for the peaceful uses of atomic energy which enabled Pakistan to purchase uranium from Canada.

Burke retired from Pakistan’s Foreign Service to take up a new chair in South Asian Studies created for him at the University of Minnesota.

His books include Foreign Policy of Pakistan, and he also advised on the compilation of A Historical Atlas of South Asia.

Burke continued to write after he and his wife moved to England. Akbar the Greatest Mogul, published in India, won a commendation from Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. With Salim Al-Din Quraishi, he also wrote Bahadur Shah, the Last Mogul Emperor of India; The British Raj in India; and Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, His Personality and His Politics, in which he argued that, contrary to received wisdom, it was Gandhi, not Jinnah, who introduced religion into Indian politics and ultimately drove Muslims and Hindus apart. Burke was appointed to the Sitara-e-Pakistan, Pakistan’s highest honour, by President Ayub Khan.

He was predeceased by his wife, whom he married in 1933, and by a daughter. Three other daughters survive him.



Filed under Pakistan

12 responses to “Professor Samuel Burke

  1. sad really

    Interesting obituary. I guess if instead of Samuel Burke he was Sami Burq, the comments and click s on this would have been more. Further if he was Pirzada Sami ul Burq it would have bbeen even more, though far less than Mullah Sami Burq.

  2. What a tragic commentary on Pakistan and its ungrateful nature towards those who have served it so well.


  3. amar

    “…contrary to received wisdom, it was Gandhi, not Jinnah, who introduced religion into Indian politics and ultimately drove Muslims and Hindus apart.”

    1) Gandhi, out of naivete and hope, introduced Jainist-Hindu-Neo-Hindu (“vaishnav jana to tene kahiye jo piid paraayi jaanere”) ideas into politics. That was harmless. Jinnah, in spite of knowing better, pushed islam into his own politics (Jinnah as saviour of the “suffering” muslims, a new Abraham, Moses and Ataturk in one). Islam in politics is radically different from the Jainist-Hindu-Neo-Hindu ideas.
    2) What drove hindus and muslims apart was the pro-islamic history-writing and narration by muslims that was full of falsifications portraying muslims as god-chosen-superior or as noble victims and hindus as scoundrels, cowards, schemers and sinners.
    3) Gandhis idea was to make many concessions to muslims at the cost of the hindus. He wanted to be loved by the muslims more than by the hindus, whom he took for granted.
    4) Good that partition came earlier than later (and the muslims had also planned for a later partition). Otherwise hindus would have trampled upon even more.
    5) God allowed Pakistan to be created in order to prove to mankind that a good human society cannot be founded or maintained on the basis of islam. The pakistanis have fulfilled god’s plan enthusiastically and violently. Time to call off this expensive experiment now.

    Honesty will always elude the muslims.

  4. amar


    NOT : Otherwise hindus would have trampled upon even more.
    BUT : Otherwise hindus would have BEEN trampled upon even more.

  5. YLH

    Gandhi pushed Islam into politics through Khilafat movement where he led the Mullahs into battle.
    *** This Message Has Been Sent Using BlackBerry Internet Service from Mobilink ***

  6. amar

    Gandhi pushed islam into politics while he had been given to think (wrongly so) by the muslims that islam is good and beneficial. So why blame him? Jinnah knew that bringing islam into politics would be a catastrophe and yet he did it, in spite of knowing better.

    Gandhi was a naive fool – but Jinnah acted criminally. And Jinnah did a lot of doublespeak and double-dealing too.

    If a fish bites into a hook (with a worm on it) then it won’t and can’t let go. So it is with the Jinnah-worshippers. The fish even comes to believe that he can pull the angleholder down into the water.

  7. krash

    @Feroz Khan

    What is tragic about this story?

  8. sad really

    YLH and Amar, way to go. Total respect to you two guys. Everything is reduced to a fight on Gandhi. Impressed with you both, and PTH

  9. i agree, gandhi brought religion into politic, which is wrong, even if the intention are honourable

    gandhi had may idiotic habits, rushing off to pray when meeting was in progress cet

    india lost a ;lot due to gandhi, he was a fool, we did not get independence bec of him, we got bec of people like bhagat singh, the british got scared once terrorism started to rise slowly in india, they knew they would never be able to control it, not with the army they had, and it would be another 1857, but more bloodier

    gandhi may have been a good person but a bad leader, jinnah was much better in that sense, though he used islam barganing chip, which in the end back fired, he never wanted to live in pakistn, and had plans to live in bombay

    regarding samuel burke it was nice reading, i had nevr heard of him before, will read more about him and his books

  10. @ krash (November 24, 2010 at 1:29 am)
    Ingratitude of a nation towards those who have served her faithfully. That is the tragedy of Pakistan.

  11. T.S. Bokhari

    In fact more muslims than non-muslims are running to the West to seek asylum. A clash, Not among civilizations but of civilization with the barbarism seems to be ripe in Pakiland with the mullah threatening (Inshaallah) to launch a counter movement against the government when an adjournment motion has been submitted to the parlimant to discuss the death sentence handed to Asiya Bibi on account of the alleged blasphemy under the Blasphemy Law and to reconsider that law. The stage is therefore set for a clash like the one in 1974 when the ZAB govt. of PPP had surrendered to the mullah to pass the Second Amendment bill, converting the constitution into a ‘Takfiri Fatwa’ which provided a handle for Zia to impose the horrible BL. Let us see how Zardari faces the onslaught of the mullah this time as PPP’s chairman/President of Pakistan. He has a wonderful chance, of course, to get his name written in history in golden words if he does not succumb to the mullah like ZAB did despite his ‘mazboot kursi’ and paid with life for his appeasement of the mullah ultimately.

  12. simon

    He is the same gentleman I quote frequently and was even asked on PTH who is he? Read my article on him on facebook and coming Tuesdays Nation.