A better 2003?

By Shahid Javed Burki

THERE were enough good economic news from Pakistan in the waning days of 2002 to lead to the expectation, at least on my part, of a better 2003. Do these news suggest that the country may be about to turn the economic corner and finally usher in a period of rapid economic growth? Is there some reason to believe that Pakistan may now be climbing out of the low-level equilibrium trap in which it has languished for several years? Should we dare hope that in 2003 Pakistan may be able to shed the epithet of the “sick man of South Asia”?

Let us take a look at the good news that came from Pakistan in the last few days of 2002. We should perhaps begin with the boom in the stock market. On December 27, the KSE-100 index closed at 2661.38, a fraction of a point above the previous height of 2661.31 set on March 22, 1994 — nearly nine years ago. This was quite a remarkable performance. The index had plunged to a low of 830 in October 1998, caused partly by the sanctions imposed on Pakistan by the West following the testing of nuclear devices and partly by the loss of confidence in all emerging markets after the Russian default on its external debt.

The rise in the stock market was accompanied by an increase in the volume of shares traded. It is always a good sign when share prices are pushed up by volume. On the day the market beat the previous record, 632 million shares changed hands. This was also a record.

The performance of the Pakistani stock market was considerably better than the performance of the markets in other parts of the world. It beat even the markets in East Asia that had produced better results in 2002 compared to those shown by North America, Europe and Japan. The stellar performance of the Pakistani market was noticed by financial analysts in the world’s money centres. “If you had to guess which country’s stock market has been this year’s top performer, what would you think: France? China? South Africa? The answer is Pakistan, writes CBS Market Watch, a widely read newsletter.

According to a report published by the Financial Times on November 26, “The nine-member MSCI Pakistan index has soared by 108 per cent in the year to date, outperforming the 50 countries tracked by Market Stanley Capital International, a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley that provides widely-followed benchmark indices. In contrast, the US is down 18 per cent; China, 11 per cent and Taiwan, 21 per cent. India has been flat while South Korea is up 17 per cent; Thailand, 27 per cent and Sri Lanka, 30 per cent.”

Will this outstanding performance of the Karachi market relative to other world markets bring foreign portfolio flows back to Pakistan? If the momentum of past few weeks is maintained into 2003, we should not be surprised if that did happen and foreigners re-enter to play the Pakistani market. However, while Pakistan may be on more foreign investors’ radar screens, many are still weary of investing.

“The market there is a gambling saloon”, says Mark St. Giles, a partner at Cadogan Financial, a UK consulting firm that did some consulting assignments for the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SCEP). “There are relatively few funds outside Pakistan that invest in Pakistan. There isn’t a great deal of interest from outside,” continues St. Giles. Foreign scepticism may not be a bad thing while the security markets in the country are in the process of developing a momentum based on domestic sentiment.

The boom in the market, unlike the one in 1994, was produced by domestic investors. This is a good sign since foreign portfolio capital is remarkably fickle. It does not come in quickly but can depart at the flick of a computer’s switch. Foreign money managers need to develop a great deal of confidence before they are prepared to trust their capital to emerging markets. The recent performance of these markets - in particular the crash of East Asia in 1997 and that of Argentina and Brazil in 2002 - has made them very skittish about making investments in the security markets of the developing world. It is this skittishness that makes this type of capital flow extremely volatile and why booms produced by foreign money can produce disastrous downturns.

Why are Pakistani investors showing such confidence in their country’s markets? Why have they chosen to disregard the gloom and doom about Pakistan’s economic and political future that marks much of the analyses that appears in the op-ed pages of most newspapers? There is a great deal of empirical evidence to show that security markets turn around before the people at large begin to notice a positive change in their economic environment. Could this also be happening in Pakistan? What are the analysts in Pakistan saying about the remarkable upturn in the domestic market?

“Market fundamentals, strong economic growth, revenue collection, exports, government commitment to privatization and robust corporate earnings and payouts all have contributed to the current rally,” says Moin Hussain, managing director of Karachi Stock Exchange. This sentiment is shared by a number of other analysts.

If there is some indication of return of confidence on the part of domestic players in the stock market, would it result in reviving investment in the various sectors of the economy? While Pakistan does not necessarily need foreign capital to boost the stock market, it needs foreign direct investment (FDI) to increase the rate of economic growth. As I have written in this space before, with a low rate of domestic savings Pakistan will need a substantial amount of FDI to increase gross domestic investment. Without new fixed investment, we will not be able to improve on the economy’s dismal growth performance of the last several years.

In an article published by Dawn recently, Akhtar Hasan Khan, the former secretary of planning, suggests that the actual rate of GDP growth in the financial year 2002 was even lower than that indicated by the government’s statistics. Khan recalculates the growth rate by reducing the assumed increase in the service sector and reaches an estimate of only 2.8 per cent. If he is correct, Pakistan, in 2002, saw a stagnation in income per head of the population. This must have added significantly to unemployment and the incidence of poverty. The important question then is what should Islamabad do to bring in FDI to stimulate growth and address the problem of increasing poverty?

For that to happen, Pakistan’s new policy-makers must improve the sense of security in the region in which we live. This will not be easy given the long history of turmoil both within and outside the country’s borders. Nonetheless, there are some signs of hope to come out of the region in the last few weeks. Of these, three are of considerable significance.

First, of course, is the indication by India of the redeployment of its troops from the border with Pakistan. Although the Indians have said that they are not returning to total normality, by pulling back some of their troops from the forward areas they have set in motion a process that might lead to an eventual easing of tension between the two rival states.

The second development is the visit by Syed Mohammad Khatami, president of Iran, to Pakistan. This was the first visit by the Iranian head of state since the military assumed power in Pakistan. One reason why the Iranians had not reciprocated visits by Pakistani leaders was their unhappiness with Islamabad’s Afghan policy. The focus of Khatami’s visit was the improvement in economic relations between the two countries. The Iranians and Pakistanis signed four memoranda of understanding aimed at developing better cooperation between the two countries in a wide variety of areas. These include road and rail transport, agriculture, automobile manufacture, software technology, oil and gas, electricity and education.

Khatami also stressed the importance of moving ahead with the construction of a pipeline to carry gas from Iran to India through Pakistan. He said that the pipeline, when completed, would cover a distance of 1,400 km and cost $1.4 billion to build. Since Pakistan is self-sufficient in gas, it will not be the destination of the pipeline. It will benefit instead by receiving royalties from Iran and India. These could amount to some $300 to $400 million dollars a year. The Iranian president was not discouraged by India’s concerns about security of supply since the pipeline will pass through Pakistan. “These concerns can be taken care of,” he said.

The Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline is not the only gas project discussed by Pakistan in recent days. On the day the Karachi stock market beat the record set some nine years ago, Zafarullah Jamali, Pakistan’s new prime minister joined President Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan and Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan to sign an agreement to build a 1,400 km gas pipeline connecting the three countries. The pipeline will cost $2.5 billion to build and will connect Turkmenistan’s gas reserves, the world’s fourth largest, to consumption centres in South Asia and beyond. It will run from Daulatabad gas field in Turkmenistan to Herat in Afghanistan before swinging east across the country to Kandahar. From there it will go to Multan with one potential spur heading towards Gwadar port and the other possibly heading towards New Delhi in India.

Pakistan is already working with the Chinese to build a deep water port at Gwadar. If the pipeline gets constructed, there are plans to build a gas liquefaction plant at Gwadar for handling exports to Japan, by far the world’s largest importer of this type of fuel.

While the Ashkabad agreement is, for the moment, a dream on the part of the leaders of the three nations that signed it, it sets in place a process that may eventually result in the construction of a pipeline that would not only supply India and Japan with the fuel both countries desperately need. It would also bring in a significant amount of royalties to Pakistan. Since India has good relations with both Afghanistan and Iran, it may be willing to accommodate them and agree to the building of the two pipelines. However, the Indians have let the word out to the world oil and gas industry that with the large discovery of gas off the coast of Andhra Pradesh in the country’s east, it may no longer be as dependent on foreign gas imports as was previously believed.

With the revival of the Karachi stock market and with a number of countries in Pakistan’s neighbourhood pursuing large, capital-intensive projects, the stage may have been set for the arrival of foreign direct investment in the country. If some momentum is generated by the two pipeline projects, Pakistan could appear on the radar screens of foreign investors. It needs them and they may come in 2003.

New Delhi’s war hysteria

By Khalid Mahmud Arif

THE 10-month long military confrontation between India and Pakistan ended when New Delhi started pulling back its armed forces from the frontlines to their peace-time locations. A year ago India had suddenly rushed its armed forces to their battle positions for ‘a decisive fight’ to ‘teach Pakistan a lesson’.

India’s fit of rage rang alarm bells in South Asia and beyond. It followed the attack on the Indian parliament in January 2002 by five unknown civilians armed with small arms. Notwithstanding the reality of the attack, it was an ill-conceived operation. Its motive is obscure and the true picture may take a long while to emerge. For the present,let us examine the balance sheet of India’s red alert.

Its coercive policy and intimidating brinkmanship took advantage of the 9/11 attacks and of the subsequent “war against terror” in Afghanistan. The US fury to crush the Taliban and Al-Qaeda focused global attention on the menace of terrorism. New Delhi seized this opportunity for implementing its agenda in Kashmir to subdue the on-going indigenous freedom struggle that has crippled the valley.

India’s additional objectives were to drive a wedge between Pakistan and the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, isolate Islamabad in the comity of nations, and pressurize it into accepting Indian dictation. Politically and diplomatically, Pakistan was asked to ‘do more’ and stop ‘cross-border infiltration in Kashmir’. India’s war cry was based on the logic that if US had a global agenda for protecting its national interest, why should it not use its own military superiority to achieve Indian objectives in South Asia?

With the sounding of the red alert, India withdrew its high commissioner from Islamabad, cancelled the rail service between the two countries, stopped overflights of Pakistani aircraft, and declined to issue travel visas to Pakistani citizen. These unilateral decisions resulted in a state of no-peace no-war between the two countries, and a military confrontation ensued. Simultaneously, an extensive diplomatic, political and media war was launched to blackmail Pakistan to either downgrade its Kashmir policy or face military aggression. Pakistan opted for the honourable course and took security measures to protect its interests and to prevent being surprised. While so doing, it maintained that it was against military confrontation and was ready to settle all disputes with India, including the core issue of Kashmir,through negotiations. This reasonable policy won universal acclaim.

The international community expressed deep concern on the deteriorating regional situation and all countries urged upon India and Pakistan to withdraw their armed forces to the barracks, defuse tension, start negotiations, and remove the possibility of open hostilities breaking out between the two nuclear weapon states.

Sustained external pressure, Pakistan’s refusal to be coerced and internal ground realities created a realization in India that world opinion had turned against its arrogance of power. This resulted in scaling down the military confrontation. The return of opposing forces to their peace locations is an appropriate opportunity for a post-mortem of the developments that brought India and Pakistan to the precipice of war.

India’s declared and implied intentions were to harm Pakistan militarily, diplomatically, economically and psychologically and to cripple or weaken the freedom struggle in Indian held Kashmir. Did India succeed in achieving these objectives, wholly or partially?

Much to the regret of India, the freedom struggle in Kashmir continues and the election drama staged in the valley under the shadow of Indian bayonets flopped as indicated by the poor turnout of voters. US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s statement that “Kashmir is on the international agenda” and that elections are not a solution of the dispute is based on irrefutable ground realities. Pakistan declined to compromise its Kashmir policy, and its relations with the APHC remain strong and doubt-free. The people and the government of Pakistan support the right of the people of Kashmir to decide their own future through a UN-supervised referendum.

The people of Kashmir are justified in resisting Indian occupation and Pakistan backs them diplomatically, politically and morally. There is total unanimity on this support within the country. This is significant because political parties in Pakistan differ on many other domestic issues. External pressures have strengthened Pakistan’s determination to remain steadfast in its principled stand.

The Line of Control is a temporary arrangement to which the people of Kashmir are not a party. It is destined to disappear sooner than later. If the LoC has any military sanctity, it is to be mutually observed by the troops deployed on either side. In reality, its is observed in the breach. India routinely violates the LoC by firing across it with machine gun, mortar and artillery fire and occasionally with aircraft. UN monitors can best check the Indian allegations of ‘cross-border infiltration’.

But India rejects this fair proposal, for spurious reasons. This country has dealt with India’s trigger-happy policy with patience and has shown resilience and firmness despite extreme provocation. The people of Kashmir do not recognize the LoC and they feel justified in travelling across it. Disruption of bilateral relations hurt both countries economically. The cost of maintaining a force in the field is invariably higher than supporting it in peace locations. The suspension of the Samjhota Express and air and bus services adversely affect intending travellers and the inconvenience caused to them cannot be measured in mathematical terms. As a rough guide it is estimated that the economic price paid by India because of suspension of trade and travel facilities is about five to six times larger than what it costs Pakistan.

The Indian media laments that banning of over-flights has badly hurt their airlines, which had to cancel or divert over 120 flights. The loss suffered by Pakistani airlines on this account is relatively small because only about a dozen of their flights are adversely affected. Significantly, Pakistan’s economy has shown resilience in absorbing the loss in revenue.

The war hysteria created by India reflects its mindset. It has become a norm with India to threaten its neighbours in South Asia to keep them under pressure. The Indian media frequently indulges in malicious personal slander against Pakistani rulers which is against diplomatic norms and moral ethics. Such hitting below the belt is not done in a civilized society. This undignified Indian attitude seems to enjoy an official nod because the trend persists. Pakistani society is not fault free, but this does not give a licence to any country to interfere in our domestic affairs.

The advice-giving moralists in India may divert their energies inwards. The electoral farce staged in Kashmir and in the home state of Gandhi brings shame to the ‘democratic’ credentials of ‘secular’ India. The hands of the ruling junta in India are tainted with the blood of minorities who are threatened to either change their religion or migrate elsewhere. Narinder Modi and his benefactors in New Delhi are guilty of cold-blooded massacre of over 2,000 Muslims in one state. Sane Indians condemn the atrocities committed in their country against Tamils, Nagas, Dalits, Sikhs, Christians and Muslims.

Pakistan seeks peace but will defend itself from external aggression. It seeks peace not only for itself but also for all countries in South Asia on the basis of sovereign equality of states as enshrined in the United Nation’s Charter. India and Pakistan should peacefully co-exist for the common good of their people. Let them fight together against poverty, want and hunger. Bilateralism is the name given to the game of imposing the hegemony of the strong on the weak. This concept has reached a dead end in India-Pakistan relations and should best be dumped in the Indian Ocean.

The writer is a retired general of the Pakistan Army


By Omar Kureishi

THE World Cup is only a few weeks away. It will be the first time that cricket’s most prestigious tournament will be played in Africa. South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya will be co-hosts.

South Africa has come out of the nightmare years of apartheid and Zimbabwe and Kenya out of the equally nightmare years of colonialism. I had lived my youthful years under the British raj. The British had ruled India but not subdued it, the British may have looted India but they were not able to rob us of our self-respect. Africa was different.

I had gone to East Africa in 1956 with a cricket team and not only did a single black African not play against us, I do not recall seeing even one of them as spectator. This was the period of the Mau Mau and the emergency. We lived such cocooned lives that we were unaware of the horrors of the emergency and the barbarity with which the British dealt with black Africans. The British have kept a tight lid on the atrocities they had committed on the mainly Kikuyu people. Long before Bosnia, the British had carried out ethnic cleansing.

The British had not distinguished themselves in Zimbabwe, then Rhodesia, either and the white man had grabbed all the best lands and reduced the natives to tillers of the soil and hewers of wood — no better than serfs. It is a shameful history. Apartheid was something else — an undisguised evil, legally endorsed and morally justified; the Afrikaan people had a “task,” a “mission” and a “calling.” The blacks were described by Cecil John Rhodes as the “most despicable specimens of human beings.”

This is just a small reminder of recent history and it is in this context that the sudden concern for human rights violations in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe must be considered and which have led to Tony Blair and to John Howard demanding of their respective cricket teams not to play their World Cup matches in Zimbabwe. This is sanctimonious humbug. It is a high-minded way to effect a regime change in Zimbabwe; in Iraq, through military means, in Zimbabwe through cricket. In Iraq, Saddam Hussein is demonized, in Zimbabwe, it is Mugabe.

The World Cup deserves better. It should not be made a vehicle for furthering a political agenda. There is far too much interference in sports while sports seems the only source of joy for people all over the world who are sick and tired of politicians trying to redesign the world. Millions of people are looking forward to the World Cup in all corners of the world. These are people of all ages, rich and poor belonging to different colours and different faiths. They would rather hear the sound of leather on willow than the sound of war-drums.

It will be a small amount of time when we can all celebrate. People will get passionate and national flags will be raised and national anthems sung. Patriotism will be on a high and tempers will be frayed. Why would anyone want to scuttle such an event? By boycotting Zimbabwe, will the white farmers get their lands back? But already, the efforts of the British and Australian governments are being seen as attempts by white countries to bully the non-white countries. The Africans, not just in Zimbabwe but all over the continent, are beginning to resent this interference. They know that these white countries want Mugabe’s scalp. They have seen it before.

Before asking the England team not to play in Zimbabwe, why does the British government not ask British firms to stop trading with Zimbabwe? In other words, put its money where its mouth is.

The Indians have refused to play against Pakistan for political reasons. It is a foolish decision because it hurts the Indian cricket fan more than it hurts Pakistan. And it does not help one bit to defuse the tension between the two countries. We were hostile neighbours while we played cricket against one another. And there are the same tensions while cricket relations between the two countries are suspended. Ironically, Pakistan and India will play against one another in the World Cup and the sun will continue to rise in the east and set in the west.

Ironically, the Zimbabwe cricket team is mainly made up of whites, including the captain Heath Streak. He is on record wanting matches to be played in Zimbabwe. No white Zimbabwe player has pulled out of the team. So why is Tony Blair and John Howard getting so hot under the collar? What the white cricket playing nations or rather their governments are doing is isolating themselves. Their efforts, if successful, will only divide cricket on colour lines.

I am surprised that John Howard of Australia has become such an ardent votary of human rights in Zimbabwe. Much better he mind his own business and bring some compassion in the handling of asylum-seekers who he has locked up in a concentration camp where conditions are inhuman. Human rights, more than charity, begins at home. So far the ICC has held firm. So too the cricket boards of England and Australia. What Tony Blair and his side-kick John Howard should do is not watch the matches played in Zimbabwe, salve their conscience and get ready to kill Iraqis.

Lands of the free

FROM the narrow perspective of Washington, D.C., the year 2002, marked by fears of terrorism and recession, hardly seems the most cheerful on record.

From the perspective of Dakar, the capital of Senegal, 2002 might seem more upbeat. Senegal, whose current leader was chosen by free and fair elections, is one of a handful of countries that have, according to an annual survey published by Freedom House, joined the ranks of free nations this year, along with Bahrain, Brazil and Yugoslavia. This is no mean feat.

The Freedom House survey, which began informally in 1955 and has been published as an annual report, “Freedom in the World,” for the past 30 years, is a comprehensive independent study of political evolution, evaluating countries according to their civil liberties, independent civil institutions and independent media, as well as their electoral politics.

This year’s Freedom House report is notable because it records some otherwise unnoticed trends. One is the number of Muslim countries that are quietly making progress toward greater political freedom and personal liberty: Afghanistan, Albania, Tajikistan, Qatar and Turkey as well as Senegal and Bahrain.

While the 30-year record of the survey does indicate that, as a rule, few countries with Islamic majorities are democracies, it does not show any “inexorable link” between Islam and tyranny, as some have lately speculated. Indeed, if the Muslims who live in India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Turkey, Western Europe and North America are all counted, it seems that most of the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims actually live under democratically elected governments.—The Washington Post

A century of dedicated service: Anjuman Tarraqqi-i-Urdu

By M.H. Askari

THE centenary celebrations of the Anjuman Tarraqqi-i-Urdu in Karachi last weekend were a reminder of the fact that Urdu, after Islam, has perhaps been the single most significant factor in determining the identity of the Muslims of the subcontinent as a separate nation.

Ironically, however, it was the uncompromising mindset of the Hindus and the Congress leadership, similar to their overall stance, which made Urdu controversial and left the Muslims with no choice but to demand a separate homeland.

The genesis of the Urdu-Hindi controversy went back to the time of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817-1898) whose vision and boundless energy inspired the Muslims to struggle for their survival after even the last flicker of their glory had been extinguished by the British in 1857. According to his biographer, Altaf Husain Hali, Sir Syed first became suspicious about Hindu intentions around 1867 when they started a campaign in Benares for the substitution of Urdu with its Persian script with Hindi written in the Devnagri script. He then became firm in his belief that the two nations (Hindus and Muslims) would not be able to continue to live together for “very long.”

As the eminent Pakistani scholar Dr Farman Fatehpuri, author of the well known treatise Qaumi yekjehati mein Urdu ka hissa (Urdu’s share in the struggle for national consolidation), stressed in a recent conversation with this writer, in retrospect it seems absurd and unbelievable that the Hindu leadership should have precipitated matters over the mere question of Urdu’s script, not so much as the language itself, which they mistakenly believed to be the same as that of the Quran.

The Hindi-Urdu controversy came to a head at a conference of writers called by Mahatma Gandhi at Nagpur in 1936. According to Dr Akhtar Husain Raipuri, who was perhaps the youngest writer to attend the conference, Gandhi, instead of discussing the problems of writers and Indian literatures, ‘wasted’ a whole day over the Hindi-Urdu controversy.

Following the conference, the protagonists of Hindi attending the annual session of the Hindi Sahitya Parishad, also held at Nagpur, resolved that free India’s national language would be ‘Hindi athva Hindustani’ (Hindi, that is, Hindustani) written in both Persian and Devnagri scripts. This was contrary to a resolution earlier adopted at the annual session of the All India Congress which clearly said that the future language of India would be Hindustani, the language commonly spoken in northern India, written in both Hindi and Urdu scripts. Dr Raipuri says that Gandhi afterwards realized the problems that he had created and tried to make amends by sponsoring the setting up of the Hindustani Literature Board in 1945. But by then it was too late. The damage had been done and the prospect of working towards a consensus on the language issue had been demolished.

According to Dr Raipuri, Gandhiji’s attitude at the Nagpur convention had totally disillusioned Maulvi Abdul Huq who had assumed the helmsmanship of the Anjuman Tarraqqi-i-Urdu in 1912 and believed that all efforts now had to go into the defence of Urdu. He declared that for this purpose the Anjuman would act as the vanguard.

The Anjuman had actually been established on January 3, 1903 at Aligarh as an offshoot of the All India Mohammedan Educational Conference, set up by Sir Syed in his life time. Maulana Shibli Nomani, the savant of modern Urdu literature, was the Anjuman’s first convener. He was assisted by Maulvi Aziz Mirza, who was also associated with Aligarh.

Maulvi Abdul Huq shifted the headquarters of the Anjuman to Aurangabad, where he happened to be posted as a functionary of the Nizam of Hyderabad’s education department. In Aurangabad, Maulvi Sahib managed to associate with the Anjuman some of the eminent scholars of the time, including Syed Hashmi Faridabadi, Maulvi Inayatullah, Mirza Farhatullah Beg, et al. The Anjuman also undertook the task of translating into Urdu some of the great masterpieces of English, French, German and other European languages into Urdu.

These were to include the works of Al Beruni and Plutarch. He also initiated the move to establish Dar-ul-Tarjuma (centre for translation) and to commence publication of the periodical Urdu, a learned journal. The journal incidentally was the first to carry a memorable critique of Ghalib’s work, authored by Dr Abdur Rahman Bijnori, who described the Vedas and the Diwan-i-Ghalib as “two books divinely revealed in India.” Urdu also carried an essay under the title Adab Aur Inquilab (Literature and Revolution), forever regarded as a landmark in modern progressive Urdu writing, by Dr Akhtar Hussain Raipuri who had also joined the team of scholars and literatures gathered by Maulvi Abdul Huq in the Anjuman.

In his memoirs, Dr Raipuri has given some extremely captivating cameos of Maulvi Abdul Huq who remained the heart and soul of Anjuman Tarraqqi-i-Urdu until his death in August 1961. The maulvi sahib, whom one remembers as a venerable old man, emerges as a lively, somewhat impish person, with enormous energy for work and a sense of humour. This impression is reaffirmed in the memoirs of Begum Hamida Akhtar Husain Raipuri, published in Karachia a few years ago — some years after the passing away of her illustrious husband.

Maulvi Abdul Haq remained a bachelor for almost all his life, dedicating himself solely to the development and promotion of Urdu. He was sometimes criticized for his extreme possessiveness of the Anjuman. However, he was able to keep the organization alive and active for all the 42 years that he was at its helm.

Even though tending to be somewhat autocratic in the way he managed the Anjuman, Maulvi Abdul Huq had at one time or another, before independence, sought the support and counsel of several eminent Hindu scholars of Urdu. They included Tej Bahadur Sapru, Pandit Datatarya Mohan Kaifi and Pandit Munshi Dhar. Some of them were of great support to him in his monumental venture, a definitive English-Urdu dictionary.

Another notable scholar of the 1930s, Maulana Ehteshamuddin, was also for some time associated with the dictionary project and, if the version of some of the Anjuman’s one-time ‘insiders’ is to be believed, Maulvi Ehteshamuddin should have been fully credited for the work that he had done. But it was Maulvi Abdul Huq whose name was published as the compiler and editor of the dictionary. The Anjuman at one stage had also planned the publication of a Hindi-Urdu dictionary but the Maulvi Sahib apparently dropped the project in disgust after the episode of Gandhiji’s Nagpur conference of writers.

The Anjuman had managerial and logistics problems while functioning in Hyderabad state and shifted its office to Delhi some time in the early 1940s. There it was housed in the residence of Dr Mukhtar Ahmad Ansari, a leading nationalist leader. One mostly remembers Dr Ansari’s kothi for the huge model of a charkha (spinning wheel) that decorated its front lawn and the Anjuman’s library, located in a basement.

During the communal trouble in 1947, the Anjuman office and library were burnt down. Maulvi Abdul Huq was then constrained to divide it between Pakistan and India. He himself shifted to Karachi and was accommodated with his paraphernalia by the then chief minister of Sindh, Pir Ilahi Bukhsh, in an evacuee property, Sharda Mandir, situated behind the Civil Hospital. That is where the Maulvi Sahib lived for the rest of his days. He also set up the Urdu Arts College in the same premises and later added a science faculty to it. The two were later shifted to a location acquired by the Anjuman in Gulshan-i-Iqbal where they have recently been elevated to the status of a university — the first Urdu University of Pakistan.

Maulvi Abdul Huq could not always manage to have an agreeable working relationship with some of his associates. All the same, many leading writers and scholars gave him their unstinted support and cooperation. They were not discouraged by his impatience with his colleagues which could perhaps be understood on account of his advancing age. In any case he had always looked upon the Anjuman as his personal responsibility and liked to have it stay the same way.

When the functioning of the Anjuman began to be hampered by in-house intrigues and financial and managerial problems, around 1959, Ayub Khan’s martial law administration took it over along with its assets and liabilities. A committee headed by the then commissioner of Karachi, Agha Abdul Hameed (widely known for his interest in literary and cultural matters), was set up to look after its day-to-day functioning. The overall direction and orientation of the organization was left as it was, with the consent of Maulvi Abdul Huq.

The office of the Anjuman continues to be located in Sharda Mandir which also houses its library of rare books and manuscripts. The position of the president of the Anjuman has since 1962 been held by a succession of retired senior bureaucrats, Qudratullah Shahab, Nurul Hasan Jafarey and, currently, Aftab Ahmad Khan. In celebrating its centenary, the Anjuman has had the support of the Sir Syed University of Science and Technology and the Aligarh Old Boys’ Association. They also provided a substantial share of the resources for the holding of the centenary function which also marked the launching of 2003 as the year of Development of Urdu.


Eid and money
Updated 13 May 2021

Eid and money

Why is a thing more real when you can touch, taste or feel it as opposed to something that is only experienced?
On whose side?
13 May 2021

On whose side?

Ambassadors strive to ‘well-serve’ their country.


Eid during Covid
Updated 13 May 2021

Eid during Covid

It is indisputable that our actions now will prevent matters from becoming far worse.
13 May 2021

Foreign policy gaffes

MIXED messages, retractions and clarifications from the government have become an all-too-common occurrence when it...
13 May 2021

Zimbabwe series win

PAKISTAN’S crushing innings victories over Zimbabwe in the two Tests were a befitting end to their highly...
PM’s Saudi visit
Updated 12 May 2021

PM’s Saudi visit

It is very important that Pakistan take no step, or agree to any demand, that can have an adverse effect on national sovereignty.
12 May 2021

A new intifada?

THE situation in the occupied territories over the past few days has been incendiary, with tensions boiling over as...
Updated 12 May 2021

SOP violations

ON Monday, Sindh Police officials were given a well-deserved slap on the wrist by a judicial magistrate in Karachi...