Wajid Shamsul Hasan — a tribute
AMBASSADOR Wajid Shamsul Hasan Sahib passed away recently in London. Once having served as our High Commissioner to UK, he never got an opportunity to return back to Pakistan.
He was desirous to do so but his deteriorating health did not allow for that visit. He was conscious of his deteriorating health.
In an e-mail dated 18.1.2019, he wrote, to me, “I love Pakistan with all our faults and failings as a nation. I am not out of it because I love London or it offers a better life. I am a victim of circumstances.
First I became PHC …. and it seemed to be in accordance with a prediction of a London based astrologer late Mir Bashir Sahib in 1967 that I would be spending some years in exile. It was out of the blue forecast that seemed to have come true.
Now I am stuck because of my medical condition. I am suffering from CKD, impaired kidneys, high bp, diabetes and blocked arteries in the legs making walking difficult plus severe back pain. I wish I could visit Pakistan again unfortunately I am restricted to travel for not more than two hours”.
As I entered college, I had a keen desire to write for Print media.
I decided to approach the Editor of the Daily News, an eminent paper in that era. The editor, Mr. Wajid Shamsul Hassan was rather cross at my ambition of seeking an internship. I persisted that I wanted to write and see my word printed.
He told me off saying that it was my age to focus on my studies and not squander time in such foibles. My tenacity got the better of me and I wanted to not only write but also intern there at any cost. So I decided to use the emotional card with him.
When he asked me why I wanted to write, I paused and said, I want to write to please my father. He didn’t expect this response, which palpably moved him, albeit only a little, however enough for me to stick my foot in the door.
He relented on the condition that I send him my piece and if it was worth printing then he may consider carrying it in his paper but he still sermonized me to devote my attention to academic pursuits.
As regards internship, he flatly said, “ forget it”. Long story short, I penned down my publication for the Daily News and Lo! and behold it made its way into print.
I got immensely positive response from various readers so much so that the then President and his wife wrote a commendation letter to me on that article- a letter which I still have in my album.
Although extremely humbling for me indeed. Following this Mr. Wajid Shamsul Hasan happily printed all my articles in his paper- an achievement that made me contended.
I compiled several of my articles, into a book titled “Mongolian Pot” and requested him to write its foreword.
He responded favorably and began the foreword with, “Having read his earlier book “Emerging Dynamics of Management” “I was cognizant of the facility of his pen, depth of his thoughts, clarity in his views and objectivity in his conclusions.
Why did he opt for me to write the Foreword when he could have asked any academic or scholarly person? His choice of me as his foreword writer can at best be explained by the fact that as Editor of Daily News—Karachi’s most popular Eveninger, widely read and largest circulated newspaper (closed publication in December due to travails of ‘tabdeeli’ in the country) I was perhaps the first to accept his initial writings for print and take him as an intern for the newspaper.
It was his first door in journalism and ever since then there has been no looking back for him. Now he is not only author of repute of articles but books too.”
He continued: “Indeed, the collection reminds me of my student days when emphasis was on the language, clarity of thought and grasp over a subject.…. Sirajuddin sahib and I share fascination for history.
As a student, history was my favourite subject and so was his and to this day I am fond of reading about the events that evolved human civilisation from Stone Age perhaps to the present most destructive millennium.
In between one feels ingratiated to learn about the role played by some great individuals to carve destinies of various nations and societies and also leave their indelible imprints on sands of time.
Indeed it would have been a different story if either Napoleon Bonaparte had succeeded in reaching Tipu Sultan or Hitler conquered India. Our history would have been different if Quaid too was not treated by a Parsi doctor who kept the secret of his fatal disease (tuberculosis) to his chest.
Had Lord Mountbatten or Indian Congress leadership known that Jinnah sahib was dying of TB they could have delayed their negotiations on partition.”
At the height of financial crises of year 2008, I was still in my office past 8:30pm and to my surprise I get a call from Mr. Mujahid Barelvi- the program Anchor of a popular talk show then, he asked if I would like to appear on his live program for a talk on the country’s financial scenario. The program was to begin in an hour or so and I readily agreed.
I darted into the studio, ducking under the live rolling camera to plant myself into the vacant seat. Even Mr. Barelvi was taken aback at my earnest acceptance as he thought I was only joking to make an appearance at such a short notice on such sensitive subject.
When the camera began to roll, I took an opportunity to begin some damage control measures. However as is customary with our talk shows, co-participants are waiting with all guns blazing and my co-participant was no different.
He made a remark towards the end of my discourse that whatever I said was fair enough ‘but there isn’t any smoke without fire’.
This comment triggered me and I lashed out declaring on air with all eyes watching that it is people like him who destroy the reputation of Pakistan.
Now, to my surprise, the program also had as a guest, His Excellency, our High Commissioner in the United Kingdom by a video link on the other end remotely, that was Mr. Wajid Shamsul Hassan and what a relief it was! He came out fully supporting my comment and endorsed my views saying that it was indeed statements like these that ruined the reputation of the country.
I was so pleased with his approval and his pontifications began to reel in my mind when he insisted that I focus on my studies instead of writing.
He was a bold writer, with an incisive ability to put to shreds anything undemocratic. He was a die-hard Pakistani, a passionate admirer of Mr. Jinnah and a soldier of Z.A. Bhutto.
During the Bhutto years, he was not unmindful of his journalistic responsibility to remain partisan and impartial; not balantally but mutedly he even criticized the People’s government on merit. Wajid Sahib was a firebrand journalist, who couldn’t be cowed down by anything.
During the course of movement for restoration of Democracy (MRD) in the early eighties he was in the forefront with his scathing editorials and articles, all dipped in acetic acid against the military Dictator, who had ruthlessly hung an elected Prime Minister. ZAB was hero to both of us.
How much he enjoyed to dare the dictatorial movement can be gauged by the following comments, he made to me in an e-mail on 20th June, 2018; “Your note took me into the time tunnel, reminded me of good old days at the Daily News and the exciting long years of martial law in which it was a; pleasure to defy censorship”.. Ambassador Sahib you will be missed.
—The writer is a banker with an interest in religion.