‘Akhtar Hameed Khan knew the difference between charity and welfare development’

Published May 16, 2022
Advocate Faisal Siddiqui discusses Perween Rahman's murder case at the Dr Akhtar Hameed Khan Development Forum at the OPP office on Sunday. -- Photo by the author.
Advocate Faisal Siddiqui discusses Perween Rahman's murder case at the Dr Akhtar Hameed Khan Development Forum at the OPP office on Sunday. -- Photo by the author.

KARACHI: It was a time to catch up, remember and reflect at the Dr Akhtar Hameed Khan Development Forum 2022, which met after a gap of two years due to the Covid-19 situation, at the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) Research and Training Institute office here on Sunday.

The meeting held even more significance after the recent passing of two more social scientists, OPP director Anwar Rashid and Tasneem Ahmed Siddiqui of Khuda Ki Basti, who were greatly inspired by Dr Akhtar Hameed and worked to forward his legacy.

In her welcome address, Aquila Ismail, the older sister of OPP’s slain director Perween Rahman, and the current chairperson of OPP, said that they follow Dr Akhtar Hameed’s ideological vision of working with communities by building relations with them through respect and understanding and by offering them technical support to help them help themselves.

Suleman Abro, the founder and CEO of the Sindh Agriculture and Forestry Workers Coordinating Organisation (SAFWCO), said that even though people like Dr Akhtar Hameed, Perween Rahman, Anwar Rashid and Tasneem Siddiqui, are longer around, there are their rich legacies to follow. He said he first met Dr Akhtar Hameed Khan in 1992 when he started getting an idea of the OPP model.

“I had come here after the torrential rains that had left many people homeless in Sindh. I was inspired by his way of speaking as what he said made a lot of sense. Then he encouraged me to come here with others and get training. He was an institution, an entire university. He guided us and opened up our minds. It was thanks to him that we motivated around 3,000 villages in Sindh to acquire ownership of lands,” he said.

“Then Anwar Rashid taught us how to trust people even if they make mistakes as they will all come back on track by learning from their mistakes. Perween also played a leading role at OPP by presenting the case of people who were marginalised. She knew how to link people planning and government planning,” he added.

‘Perween was the soul of this city’

Advocate Faisal Siddiqui spoke about the nine years since Perween’s killing on March 13, 2013.

“Perween was an alternative development thinker, she was always positive and ever smiling no matter what. Good people like her being out the good in others. She was a role model, who also left behind a legacy. Getting justice for Perween was important for this society because she was the soul of this city. She believed in public service, in bringing people together and her murder was like killing the soul of this city,” he said.

Mustafa Baloch said he was employed in a union council in Karachi after graduation when he used to listen to Dr Akhtar Hameed.

“He knew the difference between charity and welfare development,” he said. “It was through him that I came to understand the difference between a manager and a leader.”

Gibran Siddiqui, son of late Tasneem Ahmed Siddiqui, said that his father was a very different kind of a civil servant. “He was a servant of the people, and not a bureaucrat. He met Dr Akhtar Hameed early, at the beginning of his career in fact at the Civil Service Academy in 1965. And he saw Dr Akhtar Hameed as his mentor,” he said.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2022

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