Several figures of monumental stature are associated with the creation and establishment of Pakistan. The poet and philosopher of a revitalized Islam, Mohammad Iqbal (1873–1938), who wrote in Urdu, Farsi, and English, first called for the establishment of a Muslim state on the subcontinent in a statement made in 1930. Mohammad Ali Jinnah (1876–1948), the Quaid-e-Azam, or "Great Leader," rallied the Muslims to this cause and became the first governor-general of the Commonwealth of Pakistan. His "right hand," Liaquat Ali Khan (1896–1951), was the first prime minister of the nation until his assassination. Chaudhury Mohammad Ali (1905–80), a former prime minister, played a key role in the organization of the new government in 1947. Field Marshal Mohammad Ayub Khan (1908–74) served as commander-in-chief of the Pakistani army, as minister of defense in 1954–55, and as president of Pakistan from October 1958 to March 1969. Sir Mohammad Zafrulla Khan (1893–1985), a distinguished jurist, was several times minister of foreign affairs and later a member of the World Court at The Hague; in 1962, he served as president of the 17th UN General Assembly. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (1928–79), who rose to prominence as founder and leader of the socialist-leaning Pakistan People's Party, was prime minister during 1973–77 and guided the country's political and economic transformation following the loss of East Pakistan. After Bhutto's execution in 1979, his elder daughter, Benazir (b.1953), became titular head of the Pakistan People's Party. Gen. Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq (1924–1987) came to power in 1977 and assumed the presidency in 1978. The Pakistani-born scientist Abdus Salam (1926–96) shared the 1979 Nobel Prize for Physics for his work in electromagnetism and the interaction of elementary particles.
In literature, the paramount position is still held by the great Urdu writers who lived before the establishment of Pakistan. Ghalib (1796–1869) and Iqbal are recognized as the two greatest Urdu poets. Contemporary writers who have won fame include the Urdu poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz (1911–84), imbued with a strongly socialist spirit, and the Urdu short story writer Saadat Hasan Manto (1912–55). Foremost among Pakistan's artists is Abdur Rahman Chughtai (1899–1975).