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Seth Ahmad Dawood passes away

January 03, 2002

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KARACHI, Jan 2: Seth Ahmad Dawood, one of the pioneering industrialists of Pakistan, died on Wednesday morning at the age of 97. His Namaz-i-Janaza was offered at the Memon Masjid, Shaheed-i-Millat Road, and he was buried at the Mewashah graveyard.

Among those who attended the Namaz-i-Janaza were Federal Commerce Minister Razzak Dawood, who is also the nephew of the deceased, his two sons Aziz and Hussain besides many mourners from the Bantva Memon community.

Bed-ridden for more than two years because of the illness, Ahmad Dawood leaves behind a widow, two sons and a daughter.

His Soyem will be held at Memon Masjid, Shaheed-i-Millat Road, on Friday between 9.30 to 10.30 in the morning. For women, the Soyem will be held at his residence, Bungalow No 5, Dawood Colony, Shaheed-i-Millat Road.

A large number of businessmen, top functionaries of the Sindh government and bureaucrats were unaware of the death of Ahmad Dawood, who had played a key role in the transformation of one of the most backward provinces — Sindh — of undivided India into a hub of industrial and business activities in Pakistan.

None of the business leaders from the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry or from the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, or anyone from the Sindh Government attended Ahmad Dawood’s Namaz-i-Janaza.

He led a long eventful life and saw many ups and downs in his business. Yusuf Shirazi, a well-known entrepreneur with business interest in diverse fields, call Mr Ahmad Dawood “a visionary rather than a business manager.” He recalls Mr Ahmad Dawood telling him that his job was “to conceive and set up the project.” The running and management of the projects was the job that was left to his brothers and his sons. “He had the knack of conceiving high-tech and capital-intensive projects and all profitable,” Mr Shirazi said.

Mr Ahmad, son of Dawood, was born in Bantva, a small sleepy town in Kathiawar. His father was a trader. Mr Ahmad found Bantva too small for his business acumen and migrated to Bombay. Just before Independence, Mr Ahmad Dawood had established a trading house dealing in commodities, textiles, jute and yarn, with branches in many cities and towns in pre-partition India.

“He was commanded by Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah to migrate to Pakistan and set up an industry,” Meher Alavi, a former President of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said. Abdul Rehman Haji Habib, another past President of the FPCCI, who also attended the Namaz-i-Janaza, said that Ahmad Dawood was a pillar of the private sector. He said his death had created a void which would be difficult to fill.

With Adamjees and Valikas, Dawoods played the pioneering role in late forties and early fifties to create a business culture in what was then West Pakistan. Dawood Cotton Mills, an integrated textile project in 1951, must have been a dream in 1947. Karnaphuli Paper Mills was set up in East Pakistan by the EPIDC but acquired by Dawood who transformed it into a vibrant industrial unit. It met the newsprint requirements of the country before separation of the East Pakistan in 1971.

Separation of East Pakistan in 1971, massive nationalization in 1972 which took away life insurance and petroleum business and finally a split in the family, gave one after other setbacks to the business of Mr Ahmad Dawood.

Dawoods played a leading role in the public welfare. Dawood Foundation was set up in 1961 with a capital of Rs25 million. Dawood Engineering College was set up in sixties which was later nationalized. It is still a leading institution of technical education.

CONDOLENCE: The members of SITE Association of Industry have expressed their heartfelt condolence over the death of Ahmad Dawood, adds APP.