Chapter 31. In Uniform, Once Again

In August 1970, when I returned from the U.S.A. and stopped over in Karachi for a couple of days, one evening Ayesha, Nazli and I had gone over to the Queen’s Road house of my brother, Khwaja Zakiuddin and Binoo Bhabi (sister-in-law) for dinner.

Our parents were staying with them. It so happened that Yasmeen, Zaki Bhaijan’s eldest daughter and her husband, Tanvir Murshed, were also there. In the course of conversation Yasmeen mentioned having seen an advertisement in the Dawn for the sale of apartments on Gizri Road. Her attention must have been drawn to it as it was unusual for such advertisements to appear in those days.

I cut out the advertisement from the paper and went to see the agent, Mr. Zaidi, the following morning. He showed me the plan and I took the decision, straight away, to book one of the few flats that were still available. Ayesha was not very happy with my decision as she felt what would we do with a flat in Karachi when we were living in Dhaka.

My argument was that it would be an investment. We could rent it out or even sell it later.We were leaving for Dhaka early the next morning. Ayesha’s brother K.S.Ahmed, who was then an officer in the Pakistan Navy, and I walked from Sajjad Ahmed’s flat on Gizri road where Ayesha was staying to Pearl Continental where I filled up the form of Frere Town Co-operative Housing Society Ltd., booking a flat for Rs.68,000/- and enclosing a cheque for Rs.20,000 as the first installment.

I gave them to Sally to please hand over to my brother Shahed and request him to deliver it to Mr. Zaidi. I was able to take this decision as I had the necessary funds. Father had gifted us, brothers and sisters, by dividing his land holding around our house Bait-ul-Amn. Shahed and I had adjacent plots facing Mymensingh Road (now Kazi Nazrul Islam Road) which we sold to Glaxo Company..

In Karachi I went round looking for a job without any success, except on two occasions when I was sent for by Rear Admiral Syed Zahid Hasnain who was the Managing Director of Karachi Shipyard. On the first occasion we met in his house on Sunset Boulevard when he offered me the position of Commercial Manager.

However, while talking about the responsibilities I would be expected to undertake, he said that I would have a lot to do with labour, labour unions etc. At this I told him that I had never dealt with labour and have no experience of handling labour. We both agreed that it would not be fair to either of us and the matter was dropped.

A month or so later I got a message that Admiral Hasnain wanted me to see him at the Shipyard. When we met he said he had another suitable job for me. While we were talking a gentleman came to Admiral Hasnain and told him that my brother Lieut. General Khwaja Wasiuddin had opted to go to Bangladesh, implying that it would not be a good idea to employ me. After some thought the Admiral told me that times were not good and it would be better for me to keep a low profile.

By the grace and mercy of the Lord Almighty, we moved into Flat No. 25 on the fifth floor of Riaz & Kandawala Building No. 2, Chaudhry Khaliquzzaman Road No. 7, on 22nd October 1971, which was the first day of the holy month of Ramadhan. That was forty years ago and the Lord Almighty has blessed this home for us as we live in it today.

We had the most pleasant surprise when Nazli arrived one day, having traveled by train from Lahore with a couple of her friends. We thanked God that she was with us and not in Lahore when the situation in the country was grave and troops of India and Pakistan were moving towards the border.

Various members of our family also moved to Karachi from Dhaka. Ahmed Bham, with Haseen and Nargis (Ayesha’s sisters) arrived towards the end of November. They moved into the flat No. 23 on the 4th floor which I had arranged for them. Their children, Mahmood and Mehreen were already in Karachi staying with Lal Khala (aunty) and uncle Ziad who was working for KANUPP.

The Government of Pakistan declared Emergency and I was recalled by Pakistan Navy and posted as Staff Officer under Commodore Hamid Rab at Naval Headquarters, Karachi, in the Department of Shipping Control.

Thus, I was once again in uniform when the 1971 war between India and Pakistan started on 3rd December 1971. Admiral H. H. Ahmed was then the Commander-in-Chief and was kind and considerate to tell me, after cease fire, that he would keep me on as long as possible, but, agreed to release me as soon as I got a job, advising me to keep a low profile.

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