RANDOM THOUGHTS : Unsung Heroes (Part XV) - By: Dr. A.Q. Khan

Dr. A.Q. Khan

Knowledgeable people are aware that, for any large project in developing countries, a lot of materials and equipment have to be imported. My stay in Europe and interactions with relevant commercial companies there was an invaluable asset to our Programme. When ERL was established, the need of the hour was a competent, reliable, honest mechanical engineer to handle the Foreign Procurement and Stores Division. My choice fell on Muhammed Farooq, a young, soft-spoken, competent and knowledgeable engineer with a first class degree from UET, Peshawar who was working with Col. Qazi in the Production & Quality Control Division. He soon proved himself to be a valuable asset. He quickly organized his Division and set up a good team, viz. Maj. M. Siddiq, Capt. Fida Hussain Shah, Squadron Leader Shabbir, Eng. Badar Habib, Mr. A. Rauf (now Dr. Homeopathy), etc. Farooq would receive requirements from various division heads and, after my approval, would forward them to Eng. Iramul Haq Khan, Minister at our Embassy at Bonn, Germany and a former POF officer who had come to us on deputation via Gen. Ali Nawab, Chairman POF. He proved himself to be competent and honest. Funds, contrary to what has sometimes been mischievously claimed and insinuations made by Musharraf, were provided by Mr. Imtiaz Ahmad Bhatty, my able and competent Member Finance (a Grade 22 officer from the Ministry of Finance), Mr. Ghulam Ishaq Khan (Finance Minister) and Mr. H.U. Beg (Finance Secretary). Never in my 25 years tenure did auditors ever find any wrongdoing. Copies of orders would also be sent to Mr. Abdul Jamil in London, a very competend and honest officer, who would place orders from there. Once consignments were received, it was Farooq’s responsibility to check them and forward them to the relevant department. He was always very punctual and knew his job well. Most of the consignments came by PIA to Islamabad Airport. Farooq maintained excellent relations with the Customs staff and our goods were always promptly cleared under defence stores. Farooq’s two colleagues, Maj. Siddiq and Captain Fida, often went to Europe to bring back important equipment in special cargo flights. Both did an excellent job and will always be part of the fond memories I have of my colleagues. Mr. Hussain Ahmed Shirazi (then Assistant/Deputy Collector) was extremely helpful to us. One of his officers, late Asad Agha, Superintendent, was also always very helpful. May Allah rest his soul in eternal peace – Ameen. Mr. Shirazi helped us for many years and then disappeared from the scene.

In 1991/92 I was invited to be Chief Guest at an International Conference at Quaid-e-Azam Medical College, Bhawalpur. Mr. Murtaza Berlas, holding a first class Master’s Degree in Mathematics from Agra University, came to see me a few times at the guesthouse where I was staying. Besides mathematics he was also very literate in Urdu. Little did I know it at the time, he was also a famous Urdu poet. About 20 years later I happened to mention one of his favourite verses in one of my columns and 3 or 4 days later a nice letter came together with a collection of his poetry, Kulliate-Berlas – a treat to read and one I would recommend to all Urdu poetry lovers. From Bhawalpur we drove to Multan where the late Mayor Mr. Dogar hosted a grand reception for me. Amongst the many people there shouting slogans in praise of my services to the country I saw, to my surprise, Mr. Shirazi in the front row. After hugging him warmly I found out that he was in charge of Large Scale Industries Taxation. Nowadays he runs a legal firm in Lahore and is helping us with the legal aspects of the welfare hospital which is under construction there. We meet frequently and often remember the good old times. He is also a prolific humorous Urdu writer and his book, “Babu Nagar”, is a treat to read.

Farooq belonged to a middle class family from Abbottabad. He was honest to the core and, like my other colleagues and I, considered corruption an unpardonable sin. We were working to serve Pakistan, not to loot it. Farooq had a powerful voice and was an excellent orator. I met him again 9 years after my retirement at a Hamdard University convocation held at IIUI Faisal Mosque auditorium. This brave man still walked tall and was neither broken nor bent despite the inhuman treatment he and his family were subjected to at the behest of Musharraf. So much for helping Pakistan become a nuclear power and enabling them to walk tall once again after the disgrace they faced in Dacca in 1971! It is no exaggeration to say that Farooq’s contribution towards protecting Pakistan is worth 100 times more than the deeds of some of those who are glorified with medals every year. He and his colleagues were invaluable assets to the Project, great men who suffered terribly at the hands of traitors. Farooq rose to grade 21 and was decorated with the prestigious national civil award of Hilal-e-Imtiaz by the President before falling victim to treachery.

I recently visited the University of Sargodha at the invitations of its VC, Prof.Dr. Muhammad Akram Chaudhry. It was a memorable visit. I addressed a gathering of almost 18,000 students – both male and female. I have been on the Boards of many national universities, but this one is probably the best I have seen. The VC is very competent and learned, loved by students and staff alike. The faculty is competent and involved and there is intensive interaction between students and faculty. The whole campus is beautifully maintained and looks almost like a botanical garden. They generate a lot of income by producing drinking water of good quality, medicines, high yield sugar cane, etc. As is our custom, some politically influential people tried to coerce the VC into signing fake bills, admit undeserving students, etc. They even threatened to have him removed. On my return I sent details of these misdeeds to Mian Shahbaz Sharif who, as expected, took immediate action. His Deputy Secretary, Mr. Amir Karim Khan, phoned me the next day to obtain further details and said the CM would not spare anyone found guilty. This is what is meant by good governance. May Allah Almighty keep guiding the CM in his noble duties – Ameen.

To be continued....

Posted on Oct 13, 14 | 4:06 am