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Homage paid to Ardeshir Cowasjee

March 31, 2013

Ardeshir Cowasjee: 1926 to 2012.— Photo

KARACHI: Speakers shed light on the invaluable contributions of Dawn columnist Ardeshir Cowasjee to humanity at a memorial held in his honour in the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation’s Agha Hassan Abedi auditorium on Saturday evening.

Dr Adibul Hassan Rizvi gave a presentation on Mr Cowasjee’s achievements and began by saying that he had lost a friend with whom he could fight, argue, agree and disagree but never afford to lose (him). His death was a personal loss as well as the loss for the entire country. He was the common man’s hero as he took stand against tyranny and injustice.

Dr Rizvi raised the point as to what was Mr Cowasjee’s source of inspiration and came up with three answers: his family, the community he belonged to and his religion. With regard to his family, he said he loved every member of it and turned his father’s saying ‘Don’t let anyone go empty-handed’ into a motto all through his life. Talking about his community, he traced the illustrious history of the Parsis with particular reference to their generosity. As for religion, the constant tussle between good and evil, Mr Cowasjee chose not to surrender to evil.

Journalist Zubeida Mustafa drew the attention of the audience towards the link between the SIUT and Mr Cowasjee: both loved humanity. She said the columnist’s philanthropy was not just in the form of what he gave but also how he used his pen. He had command over the language and whatever he wrote had a lot of force in it. He used his pen to promote public causes. He could rub you up the wrong way but had a great sense of humour.

Saeed Hasan Khan said Mr Cowasjee was a man of all seasons. His community had contributed a lot to the subcontinent and he was one of them.

Dr Kershaw Khambatta informed the audience that he was Mr Cowasjee’s cousin and friend. The late columnist did not need any memorials because the building where the programme was taking place and many institutions in the city of Karachi were living memorials to his contribution to society. He was many things. One moment he could be extremely angry and arrogant and the other moment could be humble and down to earth. He was a good friend who would stand by you and never abandon you. He ended his speech by quoting a line from Julius Caesar: “The elements so mixed in him that nature might stand up and say to all the world, ‘this was a man’.”

Munir Malik said through Mr Cowasjee’s columns we came to know that he could both think and feel about the world. He was a journalist par excellence. Dawn Media Group CEO Hameed Haroon said while he acknowledged the contribution of the Parsi community to civic life and intellectual pursuits, he did not think that since Mr Cowasjee was a Parsi he was able to achieve all those feats. He had evolved over the years.

He was not born a wise old man; he evolved with the passage of time. As a young man he was like any other individual, enjoying his life. In the 1980s during the Ziaul Haq rule he decided to dig in. There was a physical belonging to the land he lived in. Yes, the spiritual aspect of life also mattered but above all he was a humanist. After his wife died he could have given up a lot of things and moved abroad, but he did not dislocate himself.

His trust in humanity evolved to save his piece of society.

HRCP chairperson Zohra Yusuf said when Mr Cowasjee passed away a part of Karachi died. She touched on the worsening law and order situation in the city and rounded off her speech by saying “Rest in peace Cowasjee, because the city you loved will not”.

Faisal Edhi, representing Abdul Sattar Edhi, also paid homage to Mr Cowasjee.

Editor of Dawn Zaffar Abbas also spoke at the event.