With the break up of Pakistan and establishment of Bangladesh on 16th December 1971, the four Jute Mills in ‘West Pakistan’– Amin Jute Mills, Crescent Jute Products, Indus Jute Mills and Thal Jute Mills – were no longer members of the Pakistan Jute Mills Association (PJMA), Dhaka, which became Bangladesh Jute Mills Association.
They were, therefore, anxious to form an Association of their own. It so happened that the Secretary of PJMA, J. R. Khan, was in Karachi at the time, and Abdul Latif, of Amin Jute Mills contacted him and tried his best to persuade him to organize an Association in Karachi. Jamil regretted as he was making arrangements to return to Dhaka as soon as possible.
The night after Jamil’s meeting with Abdul Latif, the four of us – the late Ahmad Bham (husband of Ayesha’s sister, Haseen), the late Akhtar Morshed, the late Jamil-ur-Rahman Khan (husband of Ayesha’s first cousin, Sarwar Morshed} and I – got together for dinner at Shezan on Hill Park.
During the dinner Jamil told us about his meeting with Abdul Latif and suggested that, since I was the only one among us who had some experience with Jute, should be the one to go for this job. His suggestion was unanimously agreed. At that time the owners of the four Jute Mills had been meeting informally with Rafiq Habib as the Chairman.
Ahmed Bham knew Rafiq very well and he very kindly arranged for me to meet him. I had met him once in a while but we did not know each other very well. However, Abdul Latif knew me from Dhaka as his company was one of the clients of Ludlows for whom I once worked. Rafiq and I agreed on the terms and conditions of service and I was appointed Secretary of P.J.M.A , Karachi, and made responsible to organize the Association.
I joined on 6th March 1972, which was, incidentally our 24th Wedding Anniversary. As for my office, it was a small store room in the offices of Thal Jute Mills Ltd., Karachi, where I started work with my portable typewriter, and step by step, set up the Association and applied to the Government of Pakistan for recognition and registration.
To our utter surprise the Government rejected our application on the grounds that there was already a PJMA in Dhaka. They did not appear to understand when we pointed out that PJMA in Dhaka did not exist any more as the Association there was now BJMA. Yet, they were adamant and agreed to recognize and register our organisation as “JUTE MILLS OF PAKISTAN”.
It was hard work and I was kept busy building something from a scratch. There was quite a lot of traveling as the owners – members of the Managing Committee – met once a month in rotation in Kotri, Baleji, Faisalabad and Muzzaffargarh. I liked the meetings in Faisalabad the most as we traveled to Lahore by air and to Faisalabad by car.
While at Lahore, I took the opportunity to spend time with Nazli who was then in Kinnaird College. Then there were meetings in Islamabad with Secretary Commerce about the sale of Gunny bags to the Government of Pakistan and other matters concerning the Jute industry.
Towards the end of 1972 I learnt that Kemal Faruki, along with Dr Waheed, Jamil Nishtar, Nasim Jafarey, J.R. Rahim, M. Arifuddin and a few others, had formed a Society for teaching Arabic in Pakistan. Kemal Faruki was the Founder President. As soon as I got in touch with Kemal he very kindly came over to the flat along with forms for me to fill up to become a member of the Society for the Promotion of Arabic (S.P.A.).
In those early days the S.P.A, did not have their own premises and classes were run at different Institutions. A class of Basic Arabic was about to start at the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) at which Kemal got permission for me to join. He also obtained permission for Roshun Masood (Roshun Apa) wife of Enver Masood, who was also keen to learn Arabic.
We had three lessons of an hour each three times a week. I used to leave office at 5 o’clock and go straight to the Trading Corporation of Pakistan to attend class. Our teacher, the late Ustaz Shafiqul Quraish, spoke Arabic like an Arab, so much so, that in the beginning we thought he was an Arab.
The S.P.A. had adopted the Direct Method of teaching and during the class only Arabic was used. Our teacher was so good that from the very first day he got us to ask and answer simple questions in Arabic. After three months I passed the Basic Arabic test and got a certificate. Roshun Apa, could not finish the course as she had to move to Dubai with Enver Bhai who had joined the most famous company belonging to Al Futhaim family.
Within a month or so of joining the S. P. A., Kemal Faruki had me co-opted as a member of the Managing Committee, and I was given the responsibility as Chairman of Academic Committee which meant a lot of work. By that time a house had been rented in P.E.C.H.S. and it became a daily routine for me to be there till late in the evening.
Kemal Faruki was always there himself along with the untiring and hard working M. Arifuddin who was the Secretary. He could be seen in all parts of Karachi on his scooter doing various chores that the S.P.A. demanded. Because of my involvement with the Managing Committee I could not find the time to join the Advance Arabic Course.
In 1975 the Government of Pakistan decided to send Kemal Faruki as Ambassador to Portugal, and I was nominated by the Managing Committee to take over from him as President of the Society for the Promotion of Arabic. The following year I was elected President. I am grateful to all members of the Society for granting me such an honour and continuing to entrust me with this heavy responsibility.
The SPA held convocations every year with a well known personality as Chief Guest who presented successful candidates with Certificates of Merit. The guests at these functions included Arab Diplomats, Officials, prominent citizens and educationists.
The SPA is funded by donations from companies, businessmen and others. One thing Kemal Faruki used to be most careful was keeping a good check on expenses and having the S.P.A. accounts audited regularly. The SPA continues to be responsible to teach Arabic to a large number of men and women..
It is indeed a great honour and privilege for me to have been responsible for the purchase of the property in February 1976 at 40-D, Block 6, PECHS, Karachi for the Society for the Promotion of Arabic. This was possible as Enver Masood very kindly arranged a most generous donation from Majid Al-Futhaim, and Ghaffar Adamjee gave an interest free loan This loan was repaid in full in due course of time.
In February 1977 I moved to Dubai to work for an Arab company. S. S. Jafri took over from me as President.
Reverting to the Jute Mills of Pakistan, it seems someone in the Government realized that it was quite in order for our organization to be recognized as PJMA, and suitable action was taken to accept our application and register us as Pakistan Jute Mills Association. I had the task of drafting the Memorandum and Articles of Association.
While I was busy with this task, Sajjad Haider, a first cousin of Ayesha, who had his own firm of Chartered Accountants in Dubai, and, as ‘Head Hunter’ had placed many Pakistanis in different jobs in Dubai, very kindly arranged for me to be employed as General Manager of Al-Owais Trading and Real Estate Establishment in Dubai. I worked extra hours and completed the draft of the Articles of Association.
Nazli had graduated in 1973 and joined Karachi University in 1974 to do her M.A. in European Studies. In 1975 she passed her M.A. with a First Class First and joined Beachams as Marketing Officer after a brief training stint at Asiatic Advertising,
At this time, about the first week of February 1977, my father had not been keeping too well and on the night of 8th February, my brother Shahed and I sat by his bedside till quite late. He and my mother were staying in the P.E.C.H.S. house of Bilquis and Musa Bhai. The following morning I dropped Ayesha at his place and went to office.
For me every minute counted as I would have to leave for Dubai as soon as my visa came through. However, shortly after I arrived at the office in Habib Square, Ayesha called and asked me to come over immediately.
When I arrived, my father-in-law, Khwaja Sudderuddin, came out and informed me that father had passed away, and escorted me to the room where his body was lying. I said a brief prayer and joined the rest of the family who were sitting with mother, whom I hugged with emotion.
She took father’s death bravely and was composed. Very soon the house was full with members of the family. His funeral prayer was performed after Asr prayer at the Mosque next to the P.E.C.H.S. graveyard where he was buried.
May his soul rest in eternal heavenly peace.
Ansari, who I was able to contact as he had previous experience with the PJMA in Dhaka, was appointed Secretary PJMA and he took over from me by the middle of February. I had still no news about my visa for the U.A.E. Then, one day I went to say goodbye to Khalifa Bin Haider, Consul General of the United Arab Emirates.
He had been a good friend of the SPA and helped the Society in more ways than one. When I told him that I came to say goodbye as I was going to Dubai to work for Al-Owais Trading & Real Estate Esrablishment, he said he knew the Al-Owais family very well. He then asked me when I was leaving and I said as soon as I receive the visa.
He asked for my passport which I had in my briefcase, and gave it to him. Within minutes, as it appeared, he returned it to me with a U.A.E. visa stamped on it. I thanked him profusely and took his leave.
I left for Dubai on 26th February 1977, leaving Ayesha to do all the work to close down the flat and deal with various matters including payment of bills, selling the car etc. All this she did single handed without help from any one.
She even got a permit from the Controller of Imports and Exports to carry some carpets. Finally, she even got a tenant – a Dutch lady – to rent the flat. Nazli, in the meantime, had been corresponding with the Bursar of Cambridge University to get admission for higher studies. I do not know what transpired between them, she must have felt that it would be better to deal with the matter on the spot, so she left for London in April or May 1977.