Sarwar Hasan was born in Panipat on 18 October 1902. His illustrious family had lived in Panipat since the days of Emperor Balban. Educated at the Muslim University Aligarh and the University of Cambridge, he was called to the bar of England and Wales at the Middle Temple. For a few years he practised law at Aligarh and later become Professor of Law at Delhi University where he taught for 14 years. He was closely associated with civic life in Delhi and was a municipal commissioner of the city. In his youth he was deeply influenced by Muslim nationalism in the subcontinent and became a staunch supporter of the Pakistan movement.
In 1944 he was appointed Secretary of the prestigious Indian Institute of International Affairs. During the Partition, in August 1947, he shifted the Institute to Karachi with all its moveable assets, including its library of rare books. It was established as The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs in Karachi, a non-political, non-profit making organization, devoted to the scientific study of international relations. It was inaugurated by Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan in 1948 and survives today as the oldest research institution of its kind in Pakistan.
Throughout his career, his professional ability and expertise and his eloquence as a speaker, won him numerous opportunities to represent Pakistan. In 1948 he was Adviser to the Hyderabad delegation to the Security Council. In 1955 he became Joint Secretary to the historic Asian-African Conference at Bandung. He was Adviser to the Constitution Commissioner in 1961 and Visiting Professor at Columbia University in 1963. He represented Pakistan several times at the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council where he distinguished himself for his brilliant exposition of Pakistan’s case on Kashmir. He was also an ardent supporter of the Arab cause in Palestine and the independence of Muslim states struggling against colonial rule.
Sarwar Hasan was the pioneer of public diplomacy in Pakistan. Under his leadership, the PIIA provided a forum for discussion and dialogue on foreign policy and contemporary issues and became a channel for the exchange of views and information between the public and the government. On account of his expertise in international affairs, international law and diplomacy, his advice was widely sought in academic and official circles. He has been described as the father of the study of international relations in Pakistan. He traveled widely and represented Pakistan in conferences, conventions, professional seminars, and goodwill missions throughout the world.
He was prolific writer. As the founder secretary of the PIIA, for 25 years he edited its quarterly journal, Pakistan Horizon. His seminal work, Pakistan and the United Nations (New York 1960) became standard references as the finest scholarly analysis of Pakistan’s foreign policy. His other published works include Introducing Pakistan (Karachi 1948), The Genesis of Pakistan (Karachi 1950), The Strategic Interests of Pakistan (editor) including The Transfer of Power (1966), The Kashmir Question (1966), and China, India and Pakistan (Karachi 1966). He was also the author of articles on foreign policy and international law published in Pakistan. Horizon and learned journals abroad. His considerable unpublished work includes papers prepared for Pakistan’s case before the Punjab Boundary Commission (Radcliffe Commission) in 1947.