Colonel (retd) Amjad Hussain Syed is perhaps one of the last persons alive who bear witness to the earliest musings on the Pakistan idea. He was the first military attaché of Pakistan to Indonesia. He was conferred with the highest Indonesian Award of Bintang Dharma (star of merit) by then President Seokarno of Indonesia for his meritorious services in promoting and establishing the friendly relationship between the armed forces of Pakistan and Indonesia. I met him on February 2, 2014 at his residence in New Muslim Town. This is what he told me:
“I was born in Gujranwala on December 21, 1921 but grew up in Muslim Town, a Muslim locality my uncle, Dr Syed Mohammad Hussain, had helped establish. In neighbouring Model Town, mostly wealthy Hindus and Sikhs lived. My uncle and Allama Iqbal were classfellows. He and many other Muslim leaders used to visit my uncle.
I did matriculation in 1934 from Muslim High School and, in the same year, started my studies at Islamia College on Railway Road. One day in December, I was returning home on my bicycle when I met a youth of my age and offered him a lift as he was going towards Mozang Chungi. He told me that he wanted to see the noted writer Imtiaz Ali Taj. I took him to Taj sahib’s residence. He was not at home but his wife, who was from Madras, was present. She was feeding some birds.
We both introduced ourselves to each other. I learnt that the young man’s name was Hameed Nizami. He had come from Sangla Hill in the hope of getting admission to Islamia College. He told me that he had done matric in first division and had been admitted to the Lyallpur Agriculture College with a scholarship and free accommodation in the hostel, but his heart was not in learning the skills of ploughing and growing crops. He wanted to do something interesting. I invited him to stay at my place and we came to Muslim Town.
The next day we went to Islamia College. I requested my teacher, Professor Ghulam Hussain (father of legendary pace bowler Fazal Mahmood) to help get Nizami admitted but he said it was out of the question. It was December, while the admissions were completed in September. He told us that even Imtiaz Ali Taj could not be of any help in this regard. Then I talked to the head clerk of the college, Qazi Said Ahmed, about it.
Now, some time earlier he had been implicated in a murder allegedly committed through poisoning, but he had pleaded that he was innocent. I had requested uncle Dr Mohammad Hussain to check if indeed the death had taken place because of poisoning or not. My uncle carried out the tests and found no case of poisoning, and so Qazi sahib was acquitted. On that occasion he said, ‘One day I will return this great favour. Do not hesitate if you ever need my help.’ So, I went to him and reminded him of his promise. He told me he would do whatever he could. Then he informed us to come the next day with Rs 60 as fees and other charges and that Nizami would be admitted. Now the problem was that we did not have the money. Rs 60 was a big amount in those days. I went to the owner of Arab Hotel and told him about the problem. He happily donated Rs 60 and Hameed Nizami was enrolled in the college.
Unlike other boys who enjoyed life in different ways playing games or cards, we both were greatly concerned about the political alienation of the Muslims. The Hindus had Gandhi and Nehru as their leaders but the Muslims lacked a leader of their stature. Our only source of inspiration was Allama Iqbal who had expressed that sentiment in the following verses:
“Allah rakhe tere jawanon ko salamat! De in ko sabaq khud shikani, khud nigari ka” (May God preserve the youth you guide and may they all by faith abide! Restraint and order you must teach, to shun conceit you ought to preach).
“Dil torh gayi in ka do sadiyon ki ghulami daru koi soch in ki preshan nazari ka” (The foreign yoke that ran for periods long, has drained the blood of heart, so strong; think of some cure, panacea or aught to bring to end their sight distraught).
So, one summer day we went to see him and said, “You are Hakimul Ummat (therapist of the Muslim nation). What have you done to help the Muslims get out of their depressed state? He said to his servant, “Ali Baksha aye munde bare phhakey hoye ney, enna nu surayee wichon pani pya” (Ali Baksh, these boys are greatly excited. Give them some water to drink and cool down). He used to speak in the Sialkoti Punjabi dialect. Then he said to us, “O dekho mundeo. Mein te baar akhare de beth key gurr dusna waan, larran walla pahalwaan koi hore hai. Mein unnu bulaa rehaan waan. O aa reha hai” (look boys, I teach the skills of wrestling from outside the wrestling ring. The wrestler who will fight this fight is someone else. I have urged him to come and he is coming).
We were overjoyed to hear that and asked him who that person was. Iqbal told us that his name was Barrister Mohammad Ali Jinnah. We had read his name in some newspaper but did not know much about him. Iqbal told us to go and see him whenever he comes to Lahore and ‘follow him and follow him blindly’.”
(To be continued)
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