THOSE who had the opportunity of meeting Qazi Hussain Ahmed will remember him as a politician it was possible to have a conversation with, even if his ideas were in conflict with one’s own. With his accent, style and unhurried emphasis, he was representative of the Pakhtun politician. He did not intimidate in person though he headed a party whose cadres were known for their brash displays of emotionalism. He had to deal with the legacy of the Jamaat-i-Islami’s association with Gen Ziaul Haq’s martial law and his biggest challenge for space came from some other Zia protégés outside the party. As JI amir, he concentrated on establishing youth wings with a wider outreach than was available to the party’s student wing, the Islami Jamiat-i-Tulaba. Pasban and Shabab-i-Milli were the outcome. But by and large, the JI under him had to be content with trying to make a difference in partnership with other parties, such as the PML-N and later, the JUI. During his leadership, the JI’s city government in Karachi initiated major development projects that were often cited as examples of the party’s organisational skills. The Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal’s stint in power in the former NWFP was another high point of Qazi Sahib’s term as JI amir.
He may not have been able to realise his dream of spearheading change, the famous ‘Qazi is coming’ cries in the 1990s being little more than a catchy memory about an unsuccessful campaign. But as a junior or equal member in a coalition, Qazi Sahib did play a role in shaping the country’s politics to the present. Apart from this, he maintained and expanded the JI’s overall presence to make sure the party had ‘likeminded’ people in important organisations, from groups committed to jihadi politics to the campuses, bureaucracy, etc.