People we should be proud of
Apopular saying tells us that a nation that does not honour its intellectuals will suffer disgrace. Honouring does not mean placing them on a pedestal or loading them with money. It means that, as a nation, we remember them with love and respect and/or name some institution after them. School books should contain their life sketches and describe the contributions they made to the nation.
We should not restrict ourselves to Quaid-e-Azam, Allama Iqbal, Sir Abdullah Haroon, Qazi Muhammad Isa, Raja Sahib of Mahmoodabad, Sardar Abdul Rab Nishtar, Nawab Ismael Khan, Z A Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto, Agha Hassan Abidi, Mir Khalilur Rahman, Majeed Nizami, etc. There are many others - Sadiqain, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Ahmad Faraz, Sardar Yasin Malik, Sirajuddin Aziz, Jehangir Khan, Abdul Sattar Edhi, Maulana Muhammad Bashir Faruqui, Mir Shakilur Rahman, Mujibur Rahman Shami, Hafiz Kardar, Hanif Muhammad, Fazal Mahmud, Muhammad Hussain, Khan Muhammad, Imtiaz Ahmed, Abdul Qadir, Javed Miandad, Wasim Akram, Misbalul Haq, Shoaib Akhtar, etc. They too should be remembered with the respect and dignity they deserve.
Today I would like to introduce two more such people, giants in the fields of journalism and writing. They have both served the nation with distinction. Both are dear friends of mine - Dr Safdar Mahmood and Altaf Hassan Qureshi.
Dr Safdar Mahmood has had a highly successful career based on an excellent educational background. He retired as a top bureaucrat - federal secretary - and has, since then, written excellent books and regular columns in Jang. He has also been a professor - a highly respected one at that. My own father was a teacher in Bhopal and the love and respect he enjoyed was exemplary. I used to go to the market with him and saw how shopkeepers got up to greet him. I can never forget that and it instilled in me the desire to become a teacher. I had hoped to become a professor after my doctorate and industrial experience.
I had actually been offered a professorship at the Middle East Technical University of Ankara, but destiny had its own plans. On May 18, 1974 the Indians tested their nuclear weapon and, having the necessary knowledge, background and experience, I decided to accept Bhutto's request and return to Pakistan. There was no bargaining and no luxuries - a salary of Rs3,000 per month (of which I received the first only after six months), no car, no driver, no furnished house, no amenities paid. My chance of becoming a teacher had been lost, but I was able to compensate by actively participating in many educational activities, in which I am still occupied today.
Dr Safdar Mahmood is a prolific writer with a vast knowledge of politics and Pakistan's history. All his books are reliable and used as reference material. Some of those that were written in English, have been translated and used by foreign scholars in their research on Pakistan. Some of his well-known works in Urdu are: 'Constitution of Pakistan', 'The Rule of the Muslim League Government (1947-1954)', ' Why Did Pakistan Dismember?', ' Pakistan's History and Politics', 'Dard-e-Agahi', 'Sada Bahar', 'Roshni', 'Pakistan Meri Muhabbat', 'Amanat', 'Taqsim-e-HindAfsama aur Haqiqat', 'Iqbal', 'Jinnah aur Pakistan'. Some of his English titles are: 'Pakistan Political Roots & Development (1947-1999)', 'Pakistan Divided', 'Pakistan Rule of Muslim League and Inception of Democracy', 'Studies in Constitution of Pakistan', 'International Affairs', ' Founders of Pakistan', etc. All these books are treasures to read and reflect his knowledge. They all deserve to be kept in the libraries of all colleges and universities with the relevant departments.
Now more about Altaf Hassan Qureshi. He has been the soul behind 'Urdu Digest' for almost 55 years. He is one of the pillars of journalism in Pakistan, as too are the late Mir Khalilur Rahman, Mir Shakilur Rahman, the late Majeed Nizami, late Salahuddin, Mujibur Rahman Shami, Nasim Nagri, etc. They have all done great service to journalism and to the nation. Our rulers have always been wary of their comments and views. Various attempts have been made to buy, bully or blackmail them, but to no avail.
Altaf Hassan Qureshi has described almost all of his professional career in his excellent book, 'Mulaqaten Kia Kia - Living Interviews of Important Personalities'. In this book he details interviews with 23 world-famous personalities, rulers, politicians, legal experts, religious scholars, etc. There are interviews with the famous Turkish PM/president, Sulaiman Demiral, with King Faisal of Saudi Arabia and with Shaikh Mujibur Rahman. When one reads these interviews, one cannot help but be reminded of the techniques of Inspector Colombo, who looks very simple but still manages to make hard-core criminals unwittingly disclose their crimes.