East and West


East and West | dr Abdul Qadeer Khan in Jang Newspaper column | 19 July 2016

Random thoughts

Abdul Sattar Edhi and Malik Riaz Hussain, both great personalities, are as different as East and West. What they have in common is a kind heart, philanthropic work and service to humanity. Edhi was a dervish, a malang – often wearing a grey malaishia shalwar qameez, cheap chappals and a black Qaraquhi cap. You could recognise him from a mile away. His long white beard was a trademark.

Malik Riaz, much younger than Edhi, is a handsome man, immaculately dressed and possessing expensive cars and a private jet. But he should not be judged at face value. He comes from a humble background, which he never hid, nor does he boast about his wealth.

He is a property tycoon and his work (Bahria Towns) speaks for itself. While Edhi collected billions from philanthropists for his social work, Malik Riaz earned every paisa through hard work.

Abdul Sattar Edhi expired on July 8, 2016. He had been unwell for a long time with renal failure. May Allah grant him a respected place in Jannah and grant patience and fortitude to his family to bear this great loss – Ameen. He was given a befitting state funeral with a 19-gun salute.

All civil and armed forces dignitaries, together with hundreds of thousands of ordinary people, attended his funeral prayers and burial. Edhi received upon his death what he was denied during his lifetime – recognition from ungrateful rulers – more or less a tradition with us.

He belonged to the Memon Community (from Junegarh Bantva near Junagarh State). After Partition, the whole family moved to Karachi. After a short while, Edhi felt compelled to look after needy and ailing human beings and animals. Over the years, it became the country’s largest philanthropic organization running orphanages, old-peoples’ homes, an ambulance fleet, medical services, feeding the poor, taking care of old and injured animals, etc.

That he was not awarded a Nobel Peace Prize is a clear indication of the political nature of the prize. There will never be anyone quite like Edhi. The single-mindedness, passion and courage to go to any extent to help suffering human beings and animals are rare qualities.

The Memon community as a whole is very kind-hearted and philanthropic. In the late fifties, after completing my BSc from DG Sindh Government Science College, I worked as government inspector of weights and measures for about three years before travelling to Europe for higher education. During that time I met many Memon industrialists. They were the ones who gave life to a nascent Pakistan in the form of large industries. They were usually fond of cricket, and some still are. My dear friend, Arif Habib, patronises a cricket club in North Nazimabad and is himself a prolific batsman.

Malik Riaz Hussain – always on his toes, always out to get results. He has foreign experts on his team and the results are impressive. A visit to Bahria Town will convince any cynic – beautiful houses and bungalows, broad, neat and clean roads, well-lit, beautiful lawns and parks and their own electricity generation system. He comes from a poor family but is proud of it and never tries to hide that fact. Since he is apolitical, he gets on well with whoever runs the government. He started his business with a borrowed sum of a paltry Rs5,000.

His story reads like that of Bill Gates – no high formal education, but still a genius. His son, Ali, and Commodore (r) Muhammed Ilyas, are his trusted colleagues. Whether he is in the country or abroad, it is business as usual. He is also a great philanthropist. Whenever he hears of someone in distress (kidnapped sailors, cancer patients, those suffering from kidney disease, APS affectee students, etc.), he is there to help. The excellent hospital, colleges and schools he has built in Bahria Towns are worth seeing and are all top-notch facilities.

I have known Malik Sb for more than 16 years. After the nuclear tests of May 1998 I was invited to visit Bahria Town in Rawalpindi/Islamabad. Gen. Mirza Aslam Baig and some other services officers were also there. We were shown around and what a pleasure it was. I was shown some ready, fully furnished show bungalows, as good, or even better than what I had seen abroad. Naturally I praised the work and the furnishing.

Afterwards, when we were having tea, Malik Sb very generously offered me the bungalow which I had liked so much. It was very kind of him, but I declined to accept such a costly present. When some (greedy) acquaintances came to know of this, they regretted my decision and said that I should have accepted and then given it to them. Greed has no limit, I’m afraid.

I wish Malik Sb would undertake the setting up of a world-class university. I had offered my services as I had experience from setting up the GIK Institute which, though it has meanwhile fallen into the hands of some inexperience and unprofessional people, is still one of the best in the country. Only Malik Riaz Hussain can give such a university to the nation. If he does ever decide to do so, I am always available (without remuneration).

I must acknowledge, with gratitude, the favour Malik Sb did for our elder daughter, Dina. She was living in London but had to move to Dubai on medical advice. She had sold her flat in London and wanted to buy something small in Dubai, but formalities were taking their own sweet time. She had meanwhile found a flat, but a decision had to be taken immediately.

Since we did not have that kind of money, I thought of Malik Sb and suggested he buy it and then transfer it to Dina when her funds became available. He immediately asked his son, Ali, to give her the money, which she was able to repay a short time later. My wife and I are very grateful to him for his timely help.

May Allah shower His Blessings on Malik Sb, his family and his colleagues and protect them from all evil – Ameen.

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