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True patriot, freedom fighter: A tribute to Syed Alamdar Hussain Gillani


May 19, 2018

This year my father's death anniversary has come at a time when political conflict in the country is at its peak. On one hand, new political manifestos are surfacing on the political landscape and, one the other, a party has come up with an 11-point agenda. Similarly, a number of people from the Seraiki belt have formed Janoobi Punjab Sooba Mahaz (JPSM) and a few others are raising the slogans of accountability.

In the background of all these developments, I just want to talk about only two political manifestos that I found authentic in my whole life.

The first one was of the Founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah after which we became the owners of a free and independent Pakistan. While the second political manifesto was given by martyred Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who not only gave a Constitution to this country but also set the foundations to make Pakistan an atomic power.

Now, if anyone wants to make this country strong on political grounds, he must take guidance from these two political manifestos that have been given in the history of Pakistan by most prestigious personalities.

This is my good luck and a great honour for me that when these political manifestos were given, my father was not only politically active, but he also took active part in every activity in the journey of Pakistan Movement till the establishment of Pakistan.

My father was born on December 12, 1919, 8th of Muharram-ul-Haram at his paternal home that was situated at Pak Darwaza Multan. At the time of birth, his name was Syed Abul Hassan but later on, with the relatedness to the month of Muharram-ul-Haram, his name was changed to Alamdar Hussain and this name became famous.

My father received his basic education in Multan and Muzaffargarh because at that time my grandfather was appointed as sub-divisional magistrate in Alipur, Muzaffargarh. Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan was a class fellow of my father.

My father passed his BA examination from Multan Emerson College in 1941. He was second person of our family who got bachelor's degree.

He started taking part in political activities during his student life and joined All India Muslim League. When he was a student of intermediate, he along with his mentor Syed Zain-ul-Abideen Shah and the president of Muslim League of district Multan, Makhdoom Ghulam Nabi Shah Gilani, joined Muslim League and worked hard for its progress.

Once in 1946, on the occasion of my Uncle Syed Rehmat Husain's engagement ceremony, my great grandfather Pir Sadr Uddin Shah Gilani went to Makhdoom-ul-Mulk Syed Ghulam Meeran Shah Gilani's home who was residing in Jamal-ul-Din Wali, Rahim Yar Khan. When he reached there, Makhdoom-ul-Mulk expressed his wish to take allegiance from his mother and two daughters.

So those ladies took allegiance on the hand of my great grandfather and after that one of the daughters of Makhdoom-ul-Mulk married my father in 1948 and the second got married to my uncle Rehmat Hussain. In this way, one of his daughters was my mother and the second one my aunt.

His third daughter was young at that time. Later, she got married to Pir Sahib Pagara. After the marriage of my parents, my mother was brought to my parental home that was situated in Pak Darwaza Multan.

The elder sister of my father was famous by the name of 'Badi Bibi' because of her piety and purity to the extent that there was hardly any home which had not received her blessings. She was also a rich lady. My aunt told my father and my uncle Rehmat Hussain that both of your wives are rich and belong to an elite family and they have been brought up in palaces. So, she forced my father to shift and reside in a big house 'Aljilaan' that was situated on the Aljilaan Road. So my father and my uncle Rehmat Hussain shifted to that home which was owned by my aunt.

The elder brother of my father, Wilayat Hussain, was already residing near this home and his home was established according to latest design of that time. There was a basement in my elder uncle's home that had some novelty.

I remember my father told me about our home 'Aljilaan'. It was considered as a symbol of good luck and was politically important because it had been visited by many famous political personalities like Governor General Ghulam Muhammad, Khawaja Nazim-ud-Din, Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, Malik Feroz khan Noon, Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah, Sardar Abdul Rub Nishter and Raja Ghazanfar Ali. Honourable Pir Sahib of Ajmer Sharif also visited this home and this was the matter of honour and pleasure for us.

Tickets of Muslim league were issued to candidates who were nominated by my father in the general elections of 1951. A convention for elections was held at our house. Prime Minister of Pakistan and president of Muslim league Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan presided that function. While holding the hands of my father and the two uncles, Wilayat Hussain and Rehmat Hussain, the prime minister said, "They are the backbone of the Muslim League."

My father used to say, if a person, despite having remedial powers in his hand cannot cure another person, he himself is unlucky. My father had a sharp memory that he memorized names of thousands of people. Whenever guests were to be invited in any ceremony, he used to narrate the names for invitation cards within a very short span of time.

My father himself narrated me his story of becoming a provincial minister. He said, “Once I went to meet Punjab Chief Minister Feroz Khan Noon at his residence and it was a coincidence that I met with your grandfather Makhdoom-ul-Mulk Syed Ghulam Miran Shah, where he told me the reason of his arrival that he wants to appoint Sardar Muhammad Khan Leghari (father of Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari) as provincial minister. I felt bad, and thought my name should also have been recommended for this post other than Leghari. When I met with Feroz Khan Noon, he told me that, you are the Chief Minister of Punjab, so formulate your cabinet and tell me. Very respectfully I replied that, I am not chief minister and only you have this right. But he was adamant.”

“Due to his insistence to create a cabinet, I selected five names including: Sardar Muhammad khan Leghari, Rana Abdul Hameed, Muzaffar Ali Qazilbash, Chaudhry Ali Akbar and Sheikh Masood Sadiq, but in the final announcement my name was also added there.”

In 1953, my father took oath as a minister of health and municipality in the cabinet of Feroz Khan Noon. My father did a great job as a health minister and established many district headquarter hospitals in different districts including Multan, Muzaffargarh, Dera Ghazi Khan and Mianwali.

He played a vital role in establishment of Nishtar Medical College and Hospital. The extension of Saamli Sanatorium (TB) Hospital, Murray and Mayo Hospital was one of his remarkable works. Doctors were very small in number and there were no proper facilities for first aid in many rural areas. My father laid the foundation of LSMF Medical College in Victoria Hospital Bahawalpur for a solution to these health-related problems.

There was a three-year medical course after matriculation examination at that time. It was mandatory for students to serve in rural areas for two years so that they can appear in the final exams of MBBS. At that time, my uncle Makhdoom Zada Syed Hassan Mehmood, who was the chief minister of the state of Bahawalpur, provided for the basic facilities. Due to his compassionate thoughts, not only he paved the way for providing medical facilities in rural areas but also played a vital role to cater the needs of doctors.

Under this policy, many doctors earned the fame due to their services and golden abilities. He helped the poor students in getting admission in medical colleges for MBBS. It was the duty of health minister rather than governor to nominate medical colleges at that time.

In 1953, my respectable father was parliamentary secretary of Chaudhary Fazl-e-Elahi, who, later on, became the President of Pakistan. Sardar Ata Muhammad Khan Leghari was the secretary of the department, who later selected as MPA. In 1954, he conducted local body elections for the very first time in Punjab after the creation of Pakistan, when he was provincial health minister and this is one of the reasons for which he is remembered till now. He made great efforts for the establishment of at least one library in each and every district so that accessibility of books to the public could be made possible. For this, he inaugurated a vast municipal library at Qasim Fort Multan. He also carried out his responsibilities as provincial minister for Improvement Trust (current Ministry for Housing) in a very little period of time. At that time, he showed his full interest in the progress of Gulberg Lahore and Murree and people from all over the country invested there.

In a very short span of time this places became the most beautiful neighbourhoods.

My father, with the assistance of his brothers Makhdoom Wilayat Hussain Gilani, Makhdoom Syed Shaukat Hussain Gilani and Makhdoom Syed Faiz Mustafa Gilani, worked hard for the betterment of Anjuman-e-Islamia, Multan. Some of the educational reminisces of Anjuman-e-Islamia are Gilani Law College, Wilayat Hussain Islamia College, Alamdar Hussain College, Islamia High School Haram Gate, Islamia High School Aam Khas Bagh and Islamia High School Daulat Gate.

My father also had the honour to be among the very few people who were included in the legislation of the 1956 Constitution. Who can better know the sanctity and importance of law than those who sacrificed a lot for the creation of Pakistan? After the establishment of Pakistan, he along with his companions visited the tomb of Quaid-e-Azam barefooted to pay homage to the father of the nation. In this way, he gave a message that the nations never forget to respect and love their well-wishers even after their death. His name is also included in the world's famous biography named, "The World Who's Who 1954-55” edition.

In October 1958, when Gen Ayub khan had enforced first martial Law in the country and dissolved the Constitution of 1956, many members of Pakistan Movement and famous politicians were disqualified. The names who became the victim of this notorious martial law are Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy, Khawaja Nazim-ud-Din, II Chundrigar, Feroz Khan Noon, Khan Abdul Qayoom khan, Muhammad Khan Leghari, Col (retd) Abid Hussain, Syed Hassan Mehmood, Ayub Khuhro, Peer Elahi Bakhsh, GM Syed, Qazi Ali Akbar, Qazi Essa and several other leaders including my father.

Ayub khan disqualified many politicians with the allegations of dishonesty without any proof and in this way they were pushed back in the political field. The whole incident weakened the foundations of the country. Martial law remained imposed for seven years.

I always saw my father with his brothers, attending the major processions of Eid Milad-un-Nabi (SAW) and 10th of Moharram-ul-Haram. He also used to go to the tomb of Hazrat Pir Piran Moosa Pak Shaheed on every Thursday. After visiting the shrine of Moosa Pak, he used to visit his elder sister and had dinner with all the members of family. Many family problems and matters were discussed at the dining table. This technique was used to maintain the unity of the whole family.

My honourable father loved Lahore very much. Whenever he used to go to Lahore, he never missed the chance to visit the shrine of Data Sahab. He often used to visit Darbar Mian Meer. I also accompanied him many times. During the college days, I was acquainted with the relatives of my father in Lahore namely Sahibzadi Mahmooda Begum, Malik Muhammad Akhtar, Chaudhry Yousaf Ali and Syed Shabir Shah.

Every year, on the 3rd of Ramadan, My father himself used to cook meal and said this is the day of death anniversary of Hazrat Fatima, daughter of Holy Prophet PBUH. He used to host his friends with great hospitality on this day. He followed this tradition with great love for all his lifetime. It is a coincident, he died on 9th August, 1978 (3rd Ramazan) in Nishtar Hospital, Multan. A day before his death he wrote a couplet on Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi in his diary – Umar Bhar Sangzani Kartay Rahay Ahl-e-Watan, Yeh Alag Baat hai Dafnain Gay Aizaz k Sath.

This year, when I started writing on the personality of my father, the enlightened face Syed Wajahat Hussain Gillani, descendant of Syed Musa Pak Shaheed, is coming into my mind, who used to enquire me about the preparations of my father’s death anniversary ceremony since the month of Shabaan. He was an affectionate head of the family and my elder brother. He devoted his whole life for the dissemination of the message of Muslim Unity. Now we can pray that may his soul enjoy higher ranks in the paradise.

It's been 40 years since my father has departed for the eternal home. Following his footsteps, every year on 3rd of Ramazan, I invite my friends on Iftar and on this occasion we all pray for the higher ranks of his soul in the Heaven.

(The writer is a former Prime Minister of Pakistan)

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