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Remembering Syed Hashim Raza

November 04, 2009


ON Sept 30 there was an ad remembering Syed Hashim Raza. Many years ago he appeared on television and talked of an incident about Mohatta Palace. This building was requisitioned by him as deputy commissioner of Karachi for the foreign office.

On a representation by Seth Mohatta, the Quaid-i-Azam declined to change the decision apparently for two reasons

a) For the correct and appropriate decision.

b) Despite being the Governor-General he felt that he had no authority to change the decision of the DC.

Here is an example where a junior person displays his courage, conviction and character about the correctness of his decision and a very senior and a greater person accepts his views and supports the decision.

I never met Syed Hashim Raza but I have recently read a book written by him titled, Our Destination (Hamari Manzil), about his life and achievements.

The book offers a very pleasant reading. Apart from his personal achievements and rise to the level of chief secretary, acting governor of (former) East Pakistan and secretary to ministries of health, information, labour, he writes about some historical facts which are not widely known.

In view of the declining zeal of the younger generation about reading books, I like to share these points with your readers

a) Many of us know that the third Governor-General of Pakistan, Ghulam Muhammad Malik, dissolved the Constituent Assembly in 1954, but very few might have known that it was due to the fact that the Constituent Assembly had passed a rule that the Governor-General would not enjoy the power to dissolve the Constituent Assembly. b) Had the services of Gen Azam Khan been utilised in 1970-71 the heart-breaking situation which occurred in former East Pakistan might have been averted.

c) There is a story about Fazlul Qadir Choudhry who was speaker of the National Assembly when it was dissolved in March 1969. Mr Choudhry used to criticise Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Bangladesh, after the creation of that country.

Consequently, Sheikh Mujib kept him in the jail despite his poor health. Fazlul Qadir Choudhry died in the jail but he did not change his stance. It's a tragedy that we have totally forgotten, through our unbalanced acts, the sufferings and efforts of many of our Bengali brothers in creating and preserving the unity of Pakistan.

As for Syed Hashim Raza, he was, by any account of judgment, not only a great bureaucrat but also a great human being who brought appreciation and laurels to the motherland from the international conferences that he presided.

At Islamabad they have honoured another civil servant of Pakistan, Agha Shahi, by naming a very important avenue after his name. May the city fathers at Karachi and other cities in the country consider naming a road or park or any other place after Syed Hashim Raza's name.