SCHOLAR, educationist, philanthropist, poet and writer, Dr. Raja Muhammad Ikram Azam, former Additional Secretary Government of Pakistan, Founder of Margalla Voices and Chairman Futuristic Foundation and Institute Pakistan, after suffering heart attack, left for his eternal abode on 15 January 2021, quietly and inconspicuously as he had lived throughout his life. He was 82 at the time of his demise. After retirement from PTS, Ikram Azam taught at the NIML-NUML to the MA English classes (as a Visiting Professor) and, later, as Dean of NUML’S (National Institute of Modern Languages, Islamabad) Faculty of Advanced Integrated Studies for a couple of years.
Dr Ikram Azam was a person blessed with many abilities. He was a prolific prose writer, an experienced novelist, a distinguished playwright, a good poet and short story writer of considerable merit. He was author of around 125 books in English, ranging from fiction and verses to research studies on Pakistan, Islam, Geopolitics, Peace and Strategic Studies, International Relations and Futuristics.
He was, in particular, and indeed very rightly, pleased with three of his publications – Muhammad’s (SAS) Message – Versified Sayings of the Holy Prophet of Islam; Rubaiyat and Future Ever: Meditations (Verses); and, above all, Peace Prayers Poems (i) Allah’s 99 Names and (ii) Muhammad’s 99 Names. The book “Muhammad’s Message” contains 450 sayings of the Holy Prophet of Islam and it has been published several times.
His short poems are wide and varied, thematically. Life and people, touching conditions, circumstances, situations, events and incidents, even words, sound, sights and scenes, thoughts, ideas and feelings move Ikram Azam to poetic expression to say boldly what he thought, what he felt. His sympathy was always with the oppressed and the downtrodden.
I would like to share, in particular, a few verses from Dr. Ikram Azam’s poem “When Birds Forget to Fly”: When human freedom, Is fettered for long, Then even birds, Forget to fly!
When I think of Dr. Ikram Azam, my mind’s movie flits fantastically from time to time, 1965 onwards. From 1965-1967, he headed the Programme and Publications Wing of Pakistan Council for National Integration. As a functionary of this wing, I learned a lot from him. Dr. Ikram Azam was one of those rare persons one could trust completely. He was human to his fingertips and incredibly generous.
As far as Pakistan is concerned, Dr. Ikram Azam can rightly be called the founding father of Futuristics in the country. He is the first person from Pakistan who studied Futuristics as a social science and obtained post-graduate degree from the University of Houston (Texas USA) and PhD and D Litt from the American University, London. The C D (Cultural Doctorate) was conferred upon him in 2000 by the World University, USA, for his contribution to the Futuristics Philosophy.
Once, I enquired from him: Why issues remain unresolved in our country and what are the causes for the constant deterioration and degeneration all-around? He replied: The answer is simple. We do not ponder and deliberate upon issues in a bid to finding out how these would impact our life in future, and then endeavour to seek logical and rational solutions to those problems. In the West, events likely to have a bearing on the future are scientifically analysed and rational forecasts are made about the likely scenarios or possibilities in the given circumstances.
As a discipline, having a bearing on all walks of life and areas of human activity, Futuristics has emerged as a vital, integral and essential ingredient of planning, particularly in countries having more developed economies. There we find a stream of trained, intelligent and committed people providing guidance and advice to the State and other organizations about the likely shape that events can assume in various situations. In other words, these specialists analyse each and every aspect of a future event and then provide guidance to their organizations.
In the post-independence struggle for survival, partisanship and petty politics, the Pakistani-Islamic futuristic tradition has, unfortunately, got compromised in favour of expediency, adhocism, status-quoism and day-to-day drifting along. However, he underlined, our progress, rather the very survival in the 21st century, depends upon reviving the futuristic foresight principle and visioning quality. It goes without saying that we need to adopt Futuristics as a vital discipline for ensuring the country’s sustained progress and growth.
—The writer is an author, columnist and former DGPR Senate of Pakistan.