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MIAN Ata Rabbani, father of Senator Mian Raza Rabbani, was appointed as the first ADC to Pakistan’s first Governor-General Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. He was group captain at that time.

After his tenure with the Quaid-i-Azam as ADC, Ata Rabbani was posted as Flying Instructor at the Flight Training School of the Royal Pakistan Air Force in Risalpur, to train flight cadets.

Such was his devotion to the Quaid-i-Azam that even when he was serving in the Royal Indian Air Force he did not fear a possible court martial and collected donations for the crucial last general elections held in undivided India and handed over Rs27,500 to the Quaid.

In early70s and 80s when I had the occasion to visit my friend Raza Rabbani at his home, I would seek the opportunity to see his father and pay my respects. A soft and well-spoken man, the late Mr Rabbani had many interesting anecdotes to tell about the time when he was selected as the first pilot to be transferred from the Royal Indian Air Force to the Royal Pakistan Air Force at the inception of Pakistan and as ADC to the Governor General of Pakistan.

He used to relate with a great sense of pride and a glint in his eyes, when he was on the most special flight in his life. This was on August 7, 1947, when he had the occasion to fly with the Quaid-i-Azam and Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah from New Delhi to Karachi, to a tumultuous welcome from the huge crowd of people waiting to receive the Father of the Nation at the Mauripur Airport.

Born in Jalandhar, India, Mian Rabbani would often recall with great fondness the days of his early childhood and what the environment was like then, almost eight to nine decades back.

Until quite recently, Mian Ata Rabbani was writing a column for an English daily newspaper. In one such column, he narrated the human side of the Quaid-i-Azam in the following words: “I would like to put it on record that he (Mr Jinnah) was formal with us, but very correct.

He always addressed us as Mr so and so. He showed a lot of understanding and overlooked many of our shortcomings, and was tolerant and forgiving. I do not recollect any incident when he showed his displeasure with our antics as asides. There was, however, one exception — Major McCoy, who was the comptroller of the household. Mr Jinnah would get upset at the very sight of Mr McCoy, as he preferred to address him. Maybe that his manners, his bearings, his handling of the decor of the house or may it be his very face that irritated the Governor-General. We called McCoy ‘Quaid’s punching bag’. He, obviously, did not last for long and was soon relieved.”

Mian Ata Rabbani’s deep affection for the Quaid is abundantly clear in the many books that he wrote about the Father of the Nation and about the ideology of Pakistan. These volumes were prominently displayed on the bookshelf in the Rabbanis’ home. The closest to his heart was the volume “I was the Quaid’s Aide-de Camp”.

With great trepidation, I once borrowed the book from him and found it to be an interesting read about his days as ADC to the Quaid. The book offers many interesting insights and a first-hand look at the crucial period of Pakistan’s early history.

Mian Ata Rabbani’s wife died about five years back. One could see that this was also a time of great agony for Mian Saheb as he was very depressed and appeared ‘lost’ after having been deprived of the company of his lifelong partner and appeared to be very lonely.

It is sad to note that with the passing away of Mian Ata Rabbani, a page has been turned on another glorious chapter of Pakistan’s early history. May his soul rest in peace. Ameen.