The educated of Sindh

Published May 28, 2000 12:00am

MINE was the pleasure and the honour to be the first man upon whom Governor of Sindh, Air Marshal Azim Daudpota, called after he had been appointed; mine was also the pleasure and the honour to be the last man to call upon him on the evening of the day he relinquished his governorship.

My first thought on hearing of his appointment was, 'How will this man, officer and gentleman, survive the politicians, the boors, the wrigglers and wanglers; how long can he last?' I rang to congratulate him and asked if I may call at his house to meet him. He thanked me, said no, I may not. He drove over to my home to meet me.

Soon after General Pervez Musharraf took over the country, he invited the air marshal to Islamabad and told him that it was the unanimous decision of the corps commanders, and also his choice, that he be appointed governor of Sindh. The air marshal agreed and was duly sworn in on October 25.

Seven months later, on May 24, he received a telephone call from the Chief of Staff at GHQ, Lt-General Ghulam Ahmed, telling him that 'they' wished to remove him and he had the choice between resigning and being sacked. He chose to relinquish his post, which he immediately did. The strange inexplicable fact was that it had only been a matter of hours since he had been with the Chief Executive, who had made no mention of his removal or resignation.

On September 14, 1933 in Bombay, a son, Azim, was born to Umar Mohammad and Karima Daudpota, their fourth child, three daughters having preceded him. He was schooled at St Patrick's in Karachi, went on to the Dayaram Jethmal Sindh College, and then joined the Pakistan Air Force. He was sent in 1952 to be trained at the Royal Australian Air Force Academy at Point Cook from where he graduated in 1955. In 1962 he was given command of two Fighter/Bomber Squadrons at Sargodha and Masroor. He graduated from the PAF Staff College at Drigh Road, was sent to our high commission in Delhi as air adviser, then to the Royal College of Defence Studies in London, and returned to Sargodha as base commander. In 1983 Zimbabwe asked for a Pakistani officer to organize and command its air rorce and Daudpota was sent off, taking with him the present air chief, Pervez Mehdi Qureshi, to assist him. In 1986 he returned to Pakistan to be appointed as managing director of PIA, and in 1989 in addition became its chairman.

As chairman, one fine day when seeing off Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto at the airport, she casually introduced him to Arif Abbasi and told him that with immediate effect Abbasi was to take over as MD. Taken aback, the air marshal quietly enquired from one of Benazir's hangers-on if he knew how long he was to remain chairman as he needed to know whether to rent out his own house or not. Don't, he was told. Sure enough, he was soon moved out and sent to head PIDC, normally a three-year tenure.

Come Nawaz Sharif in 1990, and the all-powerful, wily, corrupt and now absconding bureaucrat, Salman Faruqui, persuaded his equally corrupt master to get rid of the air marshal and appoint cousin Bilal Faruqui in his place. Daudpota found a job in the private sector, where he remained until uprooted to become governor of Sindh. Today, he is jobless, and not having been corrupt faces financial restraints. He now has all the time in the world to play bridge.

On the night of May 24 I drove over to the desolate governor's mansion to commiserate and ask if he needed any help in moving out. He told me that he would have already moved had there been any water in the tank at his Defence house and had his telephones been working. He intended to settle matters in the morning and move out.

The first time I had heard the not so common name Daudpota was when I was a student at the BVS. We were told that the new Director of Public Instruction (DPI - the head of education, schools and scholastic institutions of the province) Dr Umar Daudpota, who had just suceeded that other fine scholar, Nabi Bakhsh Kazi (A G N Kazi's father), was to inspect the school.

Umar Daudpota, a true son of Sindh, was born in 1896 in the village of Talti, where he also went to school. He later joined the Sind Madressah and then the D J Sindh College from which he graduated with a first class first BA and MA. A scholar, a linguist, fluent in Arabic, Persian and German, he then gained admittance to Emmanuel College, Cambridge to do his Ph.D. Returning to Karachi, he was appointed principal of the Sindh Madressah. In 1930, he went to Bombay as professor of Arabic at Ismail College, and returned to Karachi in 1939 as DPI in which post he remained until 1948. Umar Daudpota was honoured by the British with the prestigious title of 'Shams-ul-Ulema'.

Nabi Bakhsh Kazi, a tall handsome man, was always immaculately dressed in a three-piece suit and a Fez. He spoke little and was held in great awe by the other scholar, the principal of our school, the BVS , Dr. Maneck Bejonji Pithawalla, a doctor of science, a geologist and a geographer.

The Kazi family has produced some notable men - all straightforward honest and talented individuals, amongst them Allama Kazi, Justice Mamoon Kazi, formerly of the Supreme Court (who managed not to sit on the Bench when I was hauled up last year for contempt and the then Chief Justice of Pakistan Saiduzzaman Siddiqui convened a full-court bench), Akhtar Ali Kazi, another former judge who, incapable of rigging, has the honour of being the only sitting chief minister of Sindh to lose an election, the late Judge Imam Ali Kazi, and the extremely proper and well-mannered anaesthetist, Haleem Kazi, who has the added distinction of being the husband of the very substantial Professor Doctor Hamida Khuhro whose sense of humour matches her bearing.

Before the quick-firing generals take aim at other good people within their range, let us remind them that they chose well when they inducted into the Sindh cabinet the talented educationist, Professor Anita Ghulam Ali. She well knows the value of education and is of the firm conviction that education and education alone can thwart and repulse the present invasive, insidious, and rife bigotry with which this country is stricken. She is the daughter of that enlightened and charming couple, now sadly both departed from this world, Feroze Ghulamally and Shireen Nana. Feroze was a distinguished judge of the Sindh High Court. Anita is the granddaughter of another educationist, Nuruddin Ahmad Ghulamally Nana, a fine moustachioed figure of a man, also a former DPI of Sindh; and she is the great-granddaughter of another Shams-ul-Ulema, Mirza Qaleech Beg, author of 392 books. More needs to be written about the Nanas.

General Pervez Musharraf is a forward-thinking man of liberal thought. If well advised, he has the capacity to lead us out of the mess we are in. He was taught, as was Azim Daudpota, at one of Karachi's finest schools, St Patrick's High School, where boys in those days learnt all about gentlemanly behaviour, manners, and what is and what is not done.

Musharraf was actually in Karachi the day his chief of staff called Daudpota to give him his marching orders and had been with Daudpota a few hours earlier, when no mention of any change was mooted. The right and proper thing would have been for Musharraf to drive to the Governor's House, meet the air marshal, who is ten years his senior, and say to him, "Air Marshal, Sir, we wish to make a change, and appoint a less bothersome junior man to sit in the governor's chair. May I have the privilege of dining you out and driving you home?"

He chose the craven, rather than the correct, way of ridding himself and his corps commanders of a man who was capable of saying what he felt had to be said.

The general can still make amends. He can dine out the Air Marshal and ensure that he receives the perks and privileges to which a former governor is entitled.


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