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May 14, 2016

‘Ameena Saiyid is a role model for us all’


May 14, 2016


Glowing tributes were heaped on Mrs Ameena Saiyid for her invaluable contributions for the spread of education, publishing, and other educational ventures at a dinner held in her honour on Thursday evening.

The occasion, arranged by the 21st Century Business and Economics Club, was meant to mark the launch of the book, titled ‘A Fountain of Knowledge’, on her activities and massive contribution in the area of publishing and increasing the spread of awareness by leaps and bounds.

Thursday’s launch actually marked the updated edition of the book authored by Adil Ahmed in 2006.

Noted businessman Majyd Aziz introduced the speakers. Dr Ishrat Husain, former governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, lauding Ameena’s contribution most heartily, said that a country such as Pakistan where the rate of female participation in national life was so low, could never be put on the road to development.

What the country direly needed, he said, was more women like Mrs Saiyid to ensure that the nation could actually progress in the right direction.

“When Ameena took over the Oxford University Press (Pakistan) in 1988, she gave the organisation a new direction and applied very stringent standards,” Dr Husain said, while also lauding her struggle to uphold the sanctity of Intellectual Property Rights.

He praised her pioneering efforts for the Karachi Literature Festival and the Karachi Children’s Festival which, he observed, were now most important events in Karachi’s cultural calendar. Amin Hashwani, too, was all praise for Mrs Saiyid’s part in introducing such constructive literary events in the city.

Syed Salahuddin Haider praised her for her perseverance and determination. 

Sultana Siddiqui, chief of Hum TV, said, “On reading the book, I felt that I was not reading the book but was ‘reading Ameena’.” 

Her translations of books, she said, had made knowledge so accessible to the common folk. “Had there been more women like Ameena, our society would truly be able to flourish.”

Mrs Saiyid’s daughter, Shayma Saiyid, recalled her childhood in Lahore and said that her mother always made it a point to take her along wherever she went, whether on official assignments or pleasure trips.

Be it on public transport or whatever other means, said Shayma, my mother let me experience it all and that had added so much to my knowledge and perspective of things. 

In a simple, yet touching tribute, she said, “I am really grateful to my mother.” 

Noted banker Sirajuddin Aziz praised Mrs Saiyid for her sense of patriotism and for having cultivated the reading habit among the masses.

Former governor of Sindh Governor, Lt-Gen (Retd) Moeenuddin Haider, said, “We all respect Ameena from the core of our hearts as she is a role model not only for Pakistan, but people all over the world.”

He had special words of praise for Ameena’s pioneering role as regards the literature festivals and the mobile libraries. Recalling his acquaintance with her 20 years ago, he lauded her for the establishment of the ultra-modern head office of the OUP.

Thanking all the speakers for the tributes they showered on her, Mrs Saiyid, in return, thanked Lt-Gen (Retd) Haider for having helped her set up the OUP head office in Korangi.

She thanked Salahuddin Haider and Rashid Siddiqui for their role in updating and publishing the work and her daughter for having done all the spadework in the update. Farrukh Mazhar presented the vote of thanks.

It may be mentioned here that Mrs Saiyid was presented with an OBE (Order of the British Empire) by the UK Government in 2005, and later the highest literary award of the Government of France.

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