Lahore: Pakistan had adopted its first constitution in March 1956. The responsibility of presenting a copy of the constitution to the United States Congress as a goodwill gesture was assigned to the highest-ranking Anglo-Indian Christian in the National Assembly of Pakistan, Cecil Edward Gibbon, then serving as the National Assembly deputy speaker. He handed over the copy to ‘House of Representatives Speaker Mr. Sam Rayburn at the Capitol’ on June 20. The next day, Gibbon was introduced to the US Senate by Senator Absalom Willis Robertson from Virginia, a conservative Democrat,in the following words: “Mr. President, it is my high honour and coveted privilege to present to the Senate the Deputy Speaker of the Parliament and leader of the Christian group of a new republic, the Republic of Pakistan. Yesterday, a copy of the Constitution of Pakistan was delivered to the Speaker of the House of Representatives … I can say without fear or contradiction that we have no better friends than 90 million people of Pakistan. Today, we have with us one of the leaders of the nation, a man high in his government, a man who is the leader of Christian group in Pakistan … I take great pleasure in presenting to the Senate the Honorable Cecil E. Gibbon from Pakistan [Applause, Senators rising].” Early life: Gibbon was born in Allahabad in 1906. He went to St. Joseph’s College,Nainital, and later to St. Edmund’s College in Shillong. On his family background, he was quoted to have told the Radcliffe Award, “I am in fact an Anglo-Muslim. My great grandfather married a Muslim princess, and so by descent I am a European-Muslim.” Politics and professional career: In 1938, Gibbon was elected as the President of the All-India Anglo-Indian Association from Hyderabad. Around the same time, hejoined the Indian National Congress despite remaining critical of its politics. In March 1939, Gibbon addressed a public gathering where he urged communists to join the Congress in thousands “to mould its forward policy on more human lines. Remove its so called spiritual outlook … the Indian National Congress must first be purged of spiritualism before it can claim to be a truly revolutionary body determined to secure the complete independence of our Motherland.” Gibbon joined the Government of India Food Department in 1941 and was posted in the Punjab. Here he was elected as the president of Anglo-Indian Association, Punjab chapter, and was elected to the Legislative Assembly from an Anglo-Indian constituency in 1946. He became the Parliamentary Secretary to Chief Minister Sir Khizar Hayat Khan Tiwana. From May 1947 onwards, Gibbon openly supported the creation of Pakistan and was expelled from the Congress and Anglo-Indian Association for doing do. In August, he created the Anglo-Pakistan Association with its office at 13 Jail Road, Lahore. Gibbon and Pakistan: Alongside SP Singha and FazlElahi, Gibbon was one of the three Punjab Assembly legislators who voted for Pakistan on June 23, 1947. Gibbon was among those summoned by the Punjab Boundary Commission during its proceedings, from July 21to July 31, 1947,with Sir Cyril Radcliffe in chair. According to Gibbon’s statement before the commission, there were only 5,891 Anglo-Indians in Punjab at the time of partition. He explained the position of the Punjabi Anglo-Indians to the commission in the following words: “The Anglo-Indians are happy to be in Pakistan … It is a well-known fact that the ‘cream’ of the Anglo-Indian community comes from the Punjab. Their origin dates back nearly to 200 years … Many of us Anglo-Indians in the Punjab can even trace our descent from the Kings of Oudh … Such is the case with practically 99 percent of the Anglo-Indians of the Punjab. They are the descendants of the Anglo-Muslim race.” After the creation of the new nation-state, Gibbon had the honour of sitting on the Committee on Fundamental Rights of Citizens and Minorities of Pakistan. The committee was established by the first Constituent Assembly on August 12, 1947. Other members of the committee were DewanBahadur S.P. Singha; Sir Mohammad Zafrullah Khan; JamshedNusserwanji Mehta; ChaudhryNazir Ahmad Khan; KhawajaShahabuddin; and PhoniBhusanBarua. After Singha’s death, Rallia Ram was appointed to the committee in his place in November 1949. On August 29, 1947, Gibbon wrote to Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah to express his solidarity in the wake of communal riots and influx of refugees from India. He expressed his grief in the following words: “The grief and sorrow which fills Your Excellency’s heart is shared by my community. We are doing all that is humanly possible to relieve distress and help the administration in restoring law and order. The Anglo-Indian community in Lahore desires, most earnestly, to pay their respect to your Excellency and to demonstrate their loyalty to your person and the state. We had arranged to hold a meeting of Anglo-Indians at the Burt Institute, Lahore, on Sunday 31, at 1030am. We would consider it a great honour if Your Excellency were to find time to address a few words to the Anglo-Indian minority of Pakistan, and receive from us a donation for the West Punjab Refugees Relief Fund.” On Mr. Jinnah’s birth anniversary in 1949, Gibbon wrote an article on how he got introduced to Mr. Jinnah as well as their various conversations over the course of what with time became a lasting relationship.He notes, “It was in the year 1935 that I was introduced to Mr. Muhammad Ali Jinnah by the late Sir Henry Gidney, the representative of the Anglo-Indian community in the Indian Legislative Assembly. … I have a vivid recollection of a series of conversations which took place between Mr. Jinnah, Sir Henry Gidney, myself and others, in Simla and New Delhi in 1934 and 1939. The discussion centred round the division of India into two separate states- Hindustan and Pakistan. With the exception of Mr. Jinnah, none of us were convinced at that time of the possibilities of such a division but, as time went on and the Congress became more communal-minded we began to see that what we considered to be a dream may sooner or later become a reality.” Legislative career in Pakistan: Gibbon was a member of the first and second Punjab Assemblies. During his second tenure in the Punjab Assembly, he raised several chilling questions and broached important topics as the deputy opposition leader. According to the Punjab Assembly website, he also ‘performed the functions of the Leader of Opposition during the absence of Mian Abdul Bari in the session held from November 22, 1954, to December 11, 1954’. In June 1955, Gibbon won a National Assembly seat from the Punjab – the only seat allocated for non-Muslims. He was elected as the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly in August. Gibbon chaired several sessions of the National Assembly that debated ‘the Establishment of West Pakistan Bill and the Constitution Bill’. Raising voice fordisplaced Christian families: Gibbon had been ‘especially outspoken in his criticism of the settlement policy’ of the new state. Right after the creation of Pakistan, hundreds of thousands of Christian peasant households were displaced from villages after their Sikh landlordsleft for India and the Pakistani government was neglecting this internal displacement. In 1951, Gibbon wrote in the Christian Voice, a Catholic publication, that efforts “are being made to curtail and hinder the progress and activities of our educational institutions; and in the Punjab thousands of Christians have been driven off their lands and are now reduced to poverty and starvation.” In March 1952, he declared that “in seeking to satisfy some discontented people they [the government] had pursued a policy of robbing Peter to pay Paul, and created a corrupt administration”. Then on April 30, 1952, he said the following words in the Punjab Assembly:”I beg to ask for leave to make a motion for the adjournment of the business of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, the grave situation arising out of the policy of the Government in respect of the wholesale eviction of Christian Sepis/Athirst and tenants from their home holdings and lands without providing any alternative means of shelter and livelihood, thus rendering nearly three lakhs of Christians homeless and on the verge of starvation.” Advocating separate electorates: One of the major reasons for many Christian leaders who had supported Pakistan was the attraction of separate electorates. Gibbon was also a staunch advocate of separate electorate system. As members of the Committee on Fundamental Rights of Citizens and Minorities, both Gibbon and Barua had opposed the joint electorate system in 1952. Many leaders of the Hindu minority of East Pakistan believed that the separate electorate system had ‘Islamic implications’. Responding to their concerns, Gibbon has been quoted as saying, “Leave me alone to develop my culture and follow my religion. I do not want to engage an advocate to represent me.” He was of the view that minorities in East Pakistan were ‘sufficiently strong to safeguard their interests’. His activism for separate electorates also featured a lawsuit he filed against the federation in the Karachi High Court in 1956. He lost that legal battle. Gibbon remained openly hostile towards the Suhrawardy government because of the latter’s stance on joint electorates. The Electoral Amendment Bill of 1957 that advocated joint electorate for the entire country was opposed by Gibbon in the National Assembly and by Joshua Fazal-ud-Din in the Punjab Assembly. Another minority figure lost in bewilderment: Gibbon remained Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly until October 1958. Not many details are available about his life and political career afterwards, barring a news report published in several American newspapers. An excerpt from one of these reports published on June 18, 1960, reads: “Cecil E. Gibbon, former deputy speaker in Parliament and leader of the Pakistan Christian community, has been purged from political life for six years and ordered to pay back government money he allegedly squandered on personal expenses.” It will remain difficult to ascertain whether he was ‘purged’ for genuine reasons or was targeted because of political rivalry and his straightforwardness. In his book, historian Salamat Akhtar has noted that Gibbon was a man of integrity, but he had to leave Pakistan for good during General Ayub Khan’s tenure. Until 2013, the National Assembly of Pakistan did not have Gibbon’s photo displayed among photos of speakers and deputy speakers of the House. When the matter was raised by Christian parliamentarian Asiya Nasir, the photo was recovered from the archives and put up at the National Assembly Secretariat Gallery. Published in Daily Times, July 5th , 2017.