Saturday May 27, 2023

History of Zaman Park, its illustrious residents

March 07, 2023

LAHORE: The most famous residential address in Lahore these days is Zaman Park, where former premier and the 1992 World Cup-winning captain, Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, resides.

All roads hence lead to this otherwise posh, calm and serene residential locality of Lahore, although Imran’s round-the-clock political activities have resulted in constant traffic muddles here of late.

Zaman Park has been housing a large number of Jullundur-based Pathans for the last eight decades, besides having served as a nursery for breeding Cricket and Hockey stars. Although Imran has stood tall among all noted Zaman Park residents, many of his elders, uncles and cousins had distinguished careers as army generals, doctors, cricketers and bureaucrats etc. Not fewer than 45 first-class cricketers and numerous test cricketers had honed their skills in this housing colony located on Lahore’s main Canal Bank Road. Zaman Park is named after Khan Bahadur Mohammad Zaman Khan, who served as the Post Master General of Punjab in British India till 1943-44 and had gone on to build a seven-bedroom mansion here in 1940.

Archival research shows that the 1935 map of Lahore did not contain the name “Zaman Park.” In fact, as “Dawn” newspaper had written a few years ago, the area behind the internationally-reputed Aitchison College and to the south of Mayo Gardens was shown as the Punjab Light Horse (PLH) Parade Ground, which was part of the Cavalry Reserve in the British Indian Army.

The newspaper said: “The first map of Lahore after the events of 1857 shows no construction of any land that is today called the Zaman Park. The Punjab Light Horse was set up in Lahore in 1867 and took care of crisis situations in Lahore, Amritsar and other cities of Punjab throughout British rule. In 1936, the original name of this colony was changed to Sunder Das Park. The circular cricket ground in the centre of this colony was there in the 1934 plans though. By 1942, the houses that had come up were six in total, belonging to the same Hindu family, all related to one another. This was the famous ‘Suri’ family and the head of the family was Rai Bahadur Sunder Das Suri. This distinguished gentleman was the Chief Inspector of Schools of Punjab and had a major role in identifying the educational needs of the Punjabi students.”

The media house adds: “Rai Bahadar Sunder Das Suri had a big role to play in the expansion of Aitchison College. By the time the 1947 Partition came about, the whole of Zaman Park had 15 huge palatial houses built by the elite Hindu families of Lahore. When the 1947 holocaust unfolded, the famous General Wajid Ali Burki managed to shift the elite of the Jalandhar Pathans to this exclusive park. These families, which originally belonged to Waziristan and then migrated to Jalandhar in the later Mughal period, once again migrated to Lahore to settle in the renamed Zaman Park. The name Zaman was that of a senior member of this Jalandhar Pathan family.”

Khan Bahadur Zaman Khan was the uncle of sisters, Iqbal Bano, Naima Khanum and Shaukat Khanum, the mothers of Javed Burki, Majid Khan and Imran Khan respectively. They were all born to Ahmad Hassan Khan, whose son Lt. General Agha Ahmed Raza Khan was a first- class cricketer too.

Javed Burki, Majid and Imran had gone on to captain Pakistan cricket team in years that followed. Javed Burki’s father, Lt. General Wajid Ali Burki, an Army surgeon, also served as health minister during General Ayub Khan’s military regime.

Javed Burki’s brothers include Dr Nausherwan Khan Burki, a founding member of the Shaukat Khanum Hospital, and Jamshed Burki, a former Federal Interior Secretary. Javed also served as CEO of Pakistan Automobile Corporation (PACO), which launched Pak Suzuki Motor Company, the country’s first locally assembled Car Company. However, he was arrested by NAB in December 2002 during General Musharraf’s regime in a defence purchase scam.

Majid Khan is the son of Dr Jehangir Khan, who represented India in her first-ever test against England in 1932. He also played in all three tests for undivided India’s Cricket team during the tour of England in 1936.

Along with Khan Zaman Khan, Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Iqbal, Dr. Jehangir had also attended a dinner that was part of the Round Table Conferences in London to press for an independent Pakistan’s creation.

Dr Jehangir Khan’s brother-in-law, Baqa Jillani, also played one test match for India. An Extra Assistant Commissioner in Jalandhar, Baqa Jilani died a few days before his 30th birthday in 1941.

Majid’s bother and another first-class cricketer, Asad Jahangir, went on to serve as Sindh’s Inspector General Police, while his son Bazid Khan also represented Pakistan in 2005, making the family the second, after the Headleys of West Indies, to have seen three consecutive generations of Test Cricketers.

Air Commodore Farooq Haider Khan and former Interior Minister, Aitzaz Ahsan, also live here. Aitzaz Ahsan’s late brother and former Principal of the prestigious King Edward Medical College Lahore, Professor Dr Ijaz Ahsan, also had many Zaman Park memories to cherish.

Coming back to Khan Zaman Khan, his sons-- Humayun Zaman, Javed Zaman and Fawad Zaman--also played first-class cricket, along with cousins Ijaz Khan and Sajid Khan. Born in Lahore on October 5, 1952, Imran Khan happens to be the only son of Ikramullah Niazi (a civil engineer who graduated from the Imperial College London in 1946) and Shaukat Khanum. Imran Khan’s paternal grandfather, Azeem Khan Niazi, was a physician in Mianwali.

One of Imran’s distant family relatives was Major General Bilal Omar Khan, who had embraced martyrdom in the 2009 Rawalpindi mosque attack. Another relative was Major General Sanaullah Khan Niazi, who had perished in a bomb blast in 2013.