When my father left to practice law in Karachi we moved to Mian Bashir Ahmad’s house, ‘Al-Manzar’, in front of Bagh-i-Jinnah, as Mian Bashir had left for Turkey as ambassador of Pakistan.
It was here that Mian Bashir hosted the Quaid-i-Azam and recited his famous poem to him:
‘Millat ka pasban hay Mohd Ali Jinnah
Millat hay jism, jaan hay Mohd Ali Jinnah
Sad shukr sar garm-e-safar apna karavan
Aur Mir-e-Karavan hay Mohd Ali Jinnah
Millat hui hay zinda phir uski pukar se
Taqdeer ki azan hay Mohd Ali Jinnah
Lagta hay theek ja ke nishanay pe uska teer
Aisi kari Kaman hay Mohd Ali Jinnah
Aye qaum apne quad-e-Azam ki qadar kar
Islam ka nishan hay Mohd Ali Jinnah
Tasveer-e-azm jan-e-wafa rooh-e-huriyat
Hay kon be guman hay Mohd Ali Jinnah
Millat ka pasban hay Mohd Ali Jinnah ‘
Mian Bashir Ahmad belonged to the famous ArainMian family of Baghbanpura, Lahore,who had been given the task of looking after Shalimar Bagh by the Emperor Shah Jahan and the title of Mian. His father was the famous Justice Shah Din, who was the first Muslim from Punjab to go abroad for education. In London he did his Bar and joined Sir Abdul Rahim and others to form the Anjuman-i-Islamiya, London, on 10 November 1889. This was the first Muslim organization in the United Kingdom and Shah Din was elected as its vice-president.
On his return he took a prominent part in Sir Syed Ahmad Khan's educational movement. He presided over the session of the All-India Mohammedan Educational Conference at the early age of twenty-six in 1894, and later in 1913. He was fellow of the Punjab University, Lahore, in 1895 and worked as a Trustee of the Aligarh College in 1896.
When Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulik organised a Muslim Deputation to represent and advocate the claims of the Muslim community at Simla Deputation in 1906, Mian Shah Din was one of its members. After the All-India Muslim League was established, and a provincial branch was organized in Punjab on 30 November 1907, Shah Din was elected its president. He was appointed as the first Muslim judge of the Punjab Chief Court in October 1908.
He also launched a monthly magazine called ‘Humayun’. When he died Allama Iqbal wrote a poem called ‘Humayun’, which was published in the magazine. Mian Bashir Ahmad had also named his elder son, Humayun, after his father, Justice Shah Din Humayun, who went to England for study and died in a swimming accident.
The office of the magazine was in the annexe of Al-Manzar where I spent a lot of time goingthrough the store where all the past copies of the magazine were kept. It introduced me to a number of writers and artists whose work had been published in ‘Humayun’. It is a pity that this historic house was sold and demolished.
Mian Bashir was married to Geti Ara,the daughter of another member of the famous Baghbanpura Mian family, namely, Sir Mian Muhammad Shafi, KVSI, CIE (1869-1932).He also went to London to do his Bar in August 1889, where he joined Anjuman-i-Islamiya and was elected its president for a term. He went to Dacca to attend the annual All India Muhammadan Educational Conferencewhere the All-India Muslim Leaguewas founded on 30 December 1906. Mian Muhammad Shafi established the Punjab Provincial Muslim Leaguein November 1907, as a branch of the All-India Muslim League in the Punjab with himself as the General Secretary and Shah Din as President.
The Muslim leaders from Punjab stood for preservation of Muslim rights without alienating the sympathies of the British government, which had been till then also the main objective of the Muslim League. However, when Muhammad Ali Jinnah became its president, he signed the Lucknow Pact on Dec. 28, 1916 to join hands with the Indian National Congressto demand more authority for Indians.
It was opposed by Muhammad Shafi, and it split the Muslim League into two groups – the Jinnah group and the Shafi group, with Sir Muhammad Shafi as president, and Sir Muhammad Iqbalas general secretary.
Sir Muhammad Shafi served in the Imperial Legislative Council and the Viceroy’s Executive Council. His other daughter was the famousBegum Jahan Ara Shahnawaz. Begum Shahnawaz was part of the All India Women’s Conference, set up in 1927. In 1932, she was nominated to represent Indian women at the Round Table Conference. In 1937, she was elected to the Punjab Legislative Assembly and was appointed Parliamentary Secretary. Then in 1942, she was appointed member of the National Defence Council by the British Government. When Jinnah asked Muslim members to resign she refused. In 1946 she was again elected to the Punjab Legislative Assembly, and in 1947, she took part in the Muslim League’s civil disobedience movement and was arrested with other Muslim League leaders. She and Begum Ikramullah were the only two women members of the Pakistan Constituent Assembly in 1947. She was also one ofthe first Asian women to preside over a parliament session on 18 March 1952.
Begum Shahnawaz wrote from Queen Anne’s Mansions, St James Park London, SW 1, to Sir Findlater Stewart on 20 January 1933, ‘For all my father’s forty years services to the Government and his country, a nomination for his son ought not to be very difficult to obtain, and we hope that both the Secretary of State and the Government of India will consider his case favourably’. Sir Findlater Stewart replied on 25 January 1933, ‘... there will, at the most, be only one appointment by nomination this year (to be made in June), and that if, when the results of the examination held at Delhi this month are published, it is found that a member of one of the minority communities has been successful, no nomination will be required. I think therefore, that your brother will be advised to enter for this year’s London examination, especially as he will be too old to take part in next year’s Delhi examination.’ R. A. Butler (future Deputy Prime Minister) wrote a note on 16 February 1933, saying, ‘I attach a great importance to Sir Muhammad Shafi’s son getting the nomination if possible’. Begum Jahan Ara Shah Nawaz wrote from Iqbal Manzil on 3rd March 1933 to Sir Findlater Stewart, saying, ‘I am glad to say that situation in India is improving every day and people are beginning to realize that the time has come when they should devote themselves to constructive work and give up the attitude of non-co-operation. A meeting of women is to be held in Bombay and I am trying my best to make them agree to our proposal’. However, her brother never received the nomination.
I was admitted to Central Model School in Lahore. On the way to school I found footpath of Anarkali strewn with books looted from Hindu houses, which I could buy very cheaply. The house, which belonged to some Hindu, had a large library and all kinds of musical instruments. While I read most of the books a musician was hired for our cousins, Parvez who learnt to play violin and Yasmeen to play sitar, which she took to London with her and played on BBC till a Bengali friend of her brother named Jagirdar took it and never returned. At the school the atmosphere was charged with intense patriotism. In a school debate I said that Allama Iqbal had written a letter to an Oxford professor saying that, ‘Pakistan is not my scheme. The one that I suggested in my address is the creation of a Muslim Province, a part of the proposed Indian Federation’. I also pointed out that Allama wrote the famous poem, which is sometime recited in Bharat in place of their national anthem;
‘Saray jahan say achcha Hindostan hamara
Ham bulbulen hain iski yih gulistan hamara
Mazhab nahin sikhata apas main bayr rakhna
Hindi hain ham , watan hay Hindostan hamara’
I said that a number of Muslim intellectuals in the subcontinent had come up with the idea of Pakstan and Pakistan, and a Cambridge student, Chaudhry Rahmat Ali (1895-1951), a Gujjar from Punjab, had devoted himself to publicising the name ‘Pakistan’, and that when his colleagues went to the Quaid-i-Azam with the idea, the latter was furious. According to Aslam Khattak, Jinnah told them that, ‘ You want to destroy the only great and good thing that the British had done, which was to unite India’.
I ended my speech by saying that Pakistan was actually created by Muslims who had ruled the sub-continent and now did not want to be ruled by the Hindu or the British, and that therefore they had voted overwhelmingly for an independent state of Pakistan in the 1945-46 elections. And no Muslim League leader, not even the Quaid-i-Azam, who was looking for safeguards for Muslims, could go against it.
My schoolmates did not like anyone to examine the role of the Allama or the Quaid. I was saved because the champion athlete and body builder of the school, Khalid Latif Bajwa, nicknamed ‘Body’ stood between them and me. My other friends in the school who stood by me were Shoaib Janjua and Syed Husbanallah. Shoaib had sketched our Studebaker car, in which the Shah of Iran and his Queen had travelled when he visited Lahore. Shoaib went to live in France, and whenever he came to Pakistan he used to tell stories of his French girl friends to make Bajwa envious. A Pakistani diplomat posted in Paris told me that Janjua was a popular figure in the Pakistani community in Paris. Syed Husbanallah’s grandfather was one of the richest landlords of Eastern U.P., and was the only native member of the English Club in Gorakhpur, because of his excellence in polo. He shot his wife dead when she refused to come out to greet the English Deputy Commissioner who had come to visit him.Syed Husbanallah’s mother, Begum Sarwari Irfanallah, was a KMC Councilor and later the only lady MPA of the West Pakistan Legislative Assembly.
When our house on 56 Main Gulberg was ready we moved there, and I went round to the nearest college and got admission. That was in F. C. College. As I cycled back from the college I was often alone as Gulberg was not yet fully inhabited, except when I was joined by a fellow who rode beside me on his bicycle and told me of what a beautiful future awaited me, beginning with a beautiful bride if I became a true believer. The Qadianis were very active in those days, which resulted in a violent anti-Quadiani movement in Punjab: forcing the government to impose martial law in Lahore. They arrested the ringleaders and imposed the death sentence on Maulana Abul A’la Maududi and Maulana Abdul Sattar Khan Niazi, but their sentences were commuted at the intervention of Saudi Arabia, who later gave Maulana Abul A’la Maududi their highest civil award for service to Islam. However, it made the army very popular because it brought in discipline and accountability. The government offices opened in time, and officers attended to people’s problems. Prices were controlled. Food shops were required to put up wire netting so that no flies were to be seen sitting on food items. The city was cleaned, traffic rules were observed and those who deviated were punished.
Meanwhile my father had constructed his house in Naziabad and the family moved to Karachi, while I moved to F. C. College hostel halfway through the academic year. Therefore I was accommodated in Newton Hall, which was meant for senior students, and where I made many interesting friends. In the room next to me lived Enver Sajjad, who would take the brush out of my hand and start painting over whatever I was painting doing a better job than I had done. Enver Sajjad was a man of great and diverse talent; artist, writer, actor, director and so on. He was also a great mimic who was the main attraction at college functions. He later studied medicine and became a doctor, but gave it up to join TV and theatre.
Another was Eqbal Ahmad (1933-11 May 1999), who was keen to become a speaker and used to invite me to debate with him. He remembered this when he came to see me in Karachi after a long and eventful life in Algeria and America. He mimicked one of my speeches given under the influence of metaphysical philosophy, ‘It is me but not I’. A lot of stories later made currency round Eqbal Ahmad. One of them was that he was crossing the border with a Karavan of Muhajirs from India when they were attacked by a sword wielding-crowd, which was forced to retreat by teenager Eqbal, who used his gun to disperse them and in the process shot and killed one of them. Another was that as he could not afford the fare to the USA, he boarded an old cargo ship which foundered and got stuck on the coast of Algeria, where he joined their armed struggle against France and was part of the Algerian team at Evian which negotiated independence treaty with France. He also participated in the anti-Vietnam war movement in the USA, and was tried for plotting to kidnap the US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger. Eqbal Ahmad bloomed into a charismatic speaker and a great commentator and writer on world affairs, with a great interest in youth, for whom he wanted to establish the University of Khalduniya in Islamabad. For this land was first granted and then taken away by the second PPP government, as he did not agree to toe their line. And once some very senior and respected friends of mine expressed their desire to meet him, so I invited him to dinner with them. Eqbal came, deliberately dressed in a loose North Indian Lungi, totally ignored our properly attired guests, and kept talking to my children throughout the evening.
When he came to Pakistan after a long exile he was not sure how he would be treated by the martial law regime of General Zia-ul Haq; therefore he brought with him an American human rights activist and lawyer. She met Justice Dorab Patel of the Supreme Court at my house, became interested in doing a book on Pakistan and came back a number of times to meet him. He being alone used to drive over for a meal at our house, and often drove me to have Japanese food of which he was very fond, at the Japanese restaurant at the top of the then Hilton Hotel. Paula wrote her book on Pakistan, named Judging the State, and became Professor Dr. Paula Newberg and Fellow of the Wilson Chair in Pakistan Studies.
Another friend at F.C.College was Syed Nasir Ali Rizvi from Multan, whom I always met in the chess final and lost. He joined PPP and became its general secretary. Then there was Jalil from Karachi who was out every evening on the field to break the record of Roger Bannister, the first man to do an under four minute mile. I followed him but neither of us succeeded, except that at the college athletics meet I would always be number two to him in the mile race, but won the javelin, throw. When I was class representative, the President of the Student Union was Anwar Zahid, who was kind to me and co-opted me in many activities. He later made a name for himself as a civil servant and secretary to Nawaz Sharif. I also met Dr. Z.H. Zaidi who taught history at F.C. College. He and his wife were later instrumental in gathering, restoring, compiling and editingthe Quaid-i-Azam’s papers.
Once, when I was returning from a debate at Government College Lahore at midnight, and walking across Nila Gumbad, someone put her hand on my shoulder and got down from her bicycle, saying ‘You made an excellent speech’, and took me to the Pak Tea House. A number of boys loved her for such spontaneity, but unfortunately the one she loved did not reciprocate, and therefore she attempted suicide, first in Karachi where I looked after her. Later she succeeded and died young. I have fond memories of her visit to Oxford to meet me. She was very generous to Karachi debaters whom she invited to dinner at her house and even allowed them to go out in the garden after dinner to fart (pass wind) and declare in decadent Awadh fashion who came out first in this, which was always a debater from N.E.D. College who could make a number of sounds. Another person who looked after debaters from Karachi was Arshad Malik of Government College Lahore, who did not let me stay at the student hostel but took me to his home after the debates. He later moved to Karachi where I used to meet him at Karachi Gymkhana, and loved to hear him talk and recite Punjabi Sufi poetry especially that of Bulleh Shah. It is a pity that he was firstly badly injured in a road accident and then had a bad prostate operation which made him a recluse. Another debater of the same name was from King Edward Medical College Lahore, who entered the civil service, and became a federal secretary. After retirement Dr. Arshad Malik took to poetry and published a number of collections of his work.
During my student days I represented F.C. College, S.M. College and Karachi University in debates, and I can say that amongst the men there were no better English debators than Masood Ghaznavi and Daud Ilyas, the best Urdu debaters being Zafar and Abid Hasan Minto. The best lady debaters were Nargis Wahab in English and Shaista Bezar in Urdu.
I am sorry to say that I could not remain friends with Abid Hasan Minto, because he gave his passport to me to get him a visa for India, which I could easily have obtained by going to the Indian High Commission. But when I was about to do so I met an old student leader and political activist Mukhtar Rizvi, who saw the passport in my hand at the coffee house and took it from me, saying that his school mate from his home town in India is a visa officer in the Indian High Commission and would grant the visa, but he vanished with the passport. Since then I was so embarrassed at letting Minto down that I could never face him again, and still feel ashamed when I think of it. The other famous Urdu debater made a lot of money by insuring ginning factories and their products, but threw it all away on a Radio Pakistan singer, and died of shock when she turned away from him after years of friendship.