August 30, 2007
FLASH BACK : 2006
The old man was running frantically towards a public bus, holding flowers in his one hand. He grabbed after some effort iron bar, jumped on footboard and finally landed in the bus. Exhausted and tired, he was looking disoriented; after a while he managed to breathe normally, since the bus was full of passengers, he kept standing. Every time it took any turn, he twisted with the bus. I recognized him instantly: the old frail man was great grand son of Father of the Nation, Quaid-I-Azam, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Mohammad Aslam Jinnah. Aslam is struggling with life in a city where his great grand father was born and buried. He makes no complaint as he commutes back and forth in public transport. This city has more than 1.5 million vehicles; there is none for the poor relatives of Quaid-I-Azam, who bestowed this nation with every luxury one can imagine. Aslam ‘s wife is suffering from cancer, she had surgery and she needs medicines worth many thousand every month.
He is self- respecting man; he can never ask for any favour. Hence quietly he lives on the edge with his family in a two room rented flat in North Nazimabad. The only man who helped this family without asking was Mohammad Mian Soomro, the Senate Chairman. He arranged for the operation of Aslam’s wife. Mohammad Aslam is poor and broken relative of Jinnah Family. Some rich fellows refuse to acknowledge their existence and challenge their claim of Jinnah’s kin. This is wholly unfair and unjustified.
Mohammad Aslam never wants any share in the property left over by Quaid-I-Azam, he just wants to show to the world he is after material things, and he is content with life. His resources are terribly meager; his family hardly survives on what he earns. He supplies homemade paper bags to scores of shopkeepers in the old city area, where his great grand father was born. His wife is sick while daughter is mentally deranged; his sister Khurshid Begum lives in Golimar neighbourhood. She lost her only son, Sikandar Jinnah, after he was tortured to death in Soldier Bazaar police station. That death perhaps shook the whole city except Nawaz Sharif and his burly men. After almost a decade has passed, Khurshid Begum is still struggling to secure justice and bring those policemen to the books who allegedly murdered her son.
This is tragic and pathetic, every now and then, Jinnah’s family commutes to city court where they ponder on this case for hours, then another hearing is usually fixed. This happens almost in every hearing no judgement is expected in the near future. The family pays expenses for travel and stay at the court. They wait and wait and wait for the justice, which they hope to get in their lifetime.
The only favour, authorities have done to Aslam Jinnah is the provision of a car, which takes his family back and forth to Quaid’s mausoleum on the national days including 23rd March, 14rh August, 25th December and 11th September. This is usually an uphill task for Aslam. He goes to protocol department of Sindh Government, books car for the day and comes back while on his way back he buys flowers to lay on Quaid’s mausoleum When I saw him last Wednesday, he was going back to his house after buying flowers. On national days, Aslam usually wears black sherwani; this has become old and wrinkled like his face. He never minds atrocities of life. ‘I accept this as my fate. I have no regret. One thing is sure I will never ask for any favour from anybody.’ Aslam and his family memebrs adorn front and back pages of national newspapers and news items on various TV channels. This is the only luxury this family enjoys, so far.
What can be done for Aslam and his sister Khurshid, who barely survive in this largely brutal and cruel Pakistan, where those who were deadly against the country minted money and got away with it. Even now the opponents of Pakistan Ideology thrives well while the Founder’s family suffers silently in agony and pain.
The Governor of Sindh, Dr Ishratul Ibad should find some time from his busy schedule to visit Jinnah’s family. He has done so much for the neglected poets, writers, journalists and artists. How could he ignore the family, which has done so much for this country. The plight of Aslam Jinnah and his sister Khurshid Begum deserve real attention by all. They should not be left to suffer, mainly because they are poor and helpless. If they will get any justice is anybody’s guess.
Aslam Jinnah ‘s destination had arrived; he stood on footboard for a while. He begged conductor to stop the bus at bus stop. He smiled, ‘don’t worry Chacha, it will stop.’ The driver merely slowed the bus, Aslam Jinnah quickly jumped. He staggered for a while but he did not let flowers to drop. Those flowers he laid on Quaid’s mausoleum on 23rd March 2006. Another national day passed by as Jinnah’s family suffers silently. This is their fate, perhaps. (Source: http://www.nation.com.pk/daily/mar-2006/25/nationalnews9.php)
Islamabad: (August 15, 2007) -- The government yesterday assured the Senate that some poverty-stricken relatives of the founder of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, will be provided financial assistance.
It was a "matter of shame" for everyone that some family members of "the Quaid-e-Azam", or great leader, were living in miserable conditions, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Dr Sher Afgan Niazi told the lower house of parliament. (August 15, 2007)
"We are indebted to Quaid-e-Azam and his family. It is because of him that we are sitting in the house today. The government has taken notice of their plight and will take every step to help them."
He said the government of Sindh province had been directed to take necessary steps to help Khurshid Begum, a granddaughter of Jinnah, and other relatives of the founder of the country. (http://archive.gulfnews.com/articles/07/08/16/10146967.html
Published: August 15, 2007, 23:36 ,By Shahid Hussain, Correspondent )
"We will not allow the family to suffer again."
Niazi gave the assurance after Senator Mohammad Anwar Baig drew attention to a photograph published in newspapers showing the poor conditions in which the leader's granddaughter was living.
"My head hangs in shame as I am unable to help the family of Quaid-e-Azam," Baig said. He, however, announced that from September she will get 10,000 rupees (about Dh608) per month till his term expires in March 9, 2009.
REPORTER VISITS THE FAMILY -- weeklypulse.org
Quaid's family living in abject poverty
By Israr Ahmed August 24, 2007
The family is living in a single-room house in a congested street of Baloch Para, one of the most neglected localities of Karachi. The single room (10x10) is being used as kitchen, drawing room as well as bedroom by its inhabitants. A 4x3 washroom is attached with the room that is also being used as toilet. When I entered the house it was being used as kitchen and some meal was being cooked at the stove placed at the corner of the room. Owing to the kitchen being inside the room, the temperature inside was very high and the environment was suffocating.
But the couple has been forced to live in such a deplorable condition for the last 26 years in the singe-room house due to abject poverty. The couple living under such circumstances is none other than the grand daughter of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of the Pakistan, Khursheed Begum, and her spouse Mohammad Ali.
It is a matter of extreme shame for the whole nation especially for the government that the family of the father of the nation is leading a pathetic life. The matter was also echoed in the recent session of the Senate when opposition senators including Enver Baig, Mian Raza Rabbani, Latif Khosa and Prof Khursheed Ahmed, on a call attention notice, strongly protested over the deplorable state the Quaid’s family was living in.
The matter caught the opposition’s attentions when photographs of Khursheed Begum and her husband were released by Online International News Network, depicting the abject poverty in which the Quaid’s family was forced to live. These photographs were carried by a section of press.
It is ironic that on one hand millions of rupees were being spent on the lavish expenses of an army of ministers, state ministers, federal secretaries and on president and prime minister’s houses, but on the other majority of the population of the country, including the family of the father of the nation, was forced to live under miserable conditions and below poverty line.
Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Dr Sher Afgan, on the floor of the house, admitted that it was a matter of great shame for the government as well as the whole nation that the Quaid’s family was living in abject poverty. He said the federal government had directed the Sindh government to immediately look into the matter. The following day, the president of Pakistan also took strong notice of the miserable condition of the Quaid-i-Azam’s family and directed the Sindh government to approach the family and provide it financial assistance.
However, despite the directives of the president and federal government’s assurances on the floor of the house, none of the provincial government officials approached the family.
Last year, Sindh Chief Minister Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim even called the family to the Chief Minister’s House. “The CM talked to us very nicely and gently and asked us about our requirements and other things,” Khursheed Begum said during an exclusive interview with weekly Pulse.
“We told the chief minister at length about the case of our son’s murder and other things. He promised that he would do everything for us, but after that no one from the CM House or anyone from the provincial government approached us,” she said.
However, she said, during last Eid, the Sindh governor visited us and also handed over a cheque of Rs500,000.Despite being in such abject poverty, the couple does not demand any financial assistance from the government. However, it is the responsibility of the government to provide its citizens the basic necessities. During the interview, the grand daughter of the Quaid said her strongest desire was that every Pakistani could get quick and cheap justice and no one suffered at the hands of the police as she and her family experienced. Narrating the ordeal through which the family had gone through for about nine years, she said her only son was brutally tortured to death in police custody at Jamshed Quarter Police Station in 1998.
“It was January 9, 1998 and 10th of Ramazan, when my only son, Sikandar Ali Jinnah, 17, went out to a nearby hotel to buy Paratha for ‘Sehri’ but did not return home. We searched for him everywhere that day but could not trace him. The very next day the police called us to Jamshed Quarter Police Station to hand over the body of Sikandar, who had been brutally tortured to death. His body bore marks of torture.” “We ran from pillar to post to seek justice but no one helped us, except Brig (retired) Shamsul Haq Qazi, a resident of Rawalpindi, who came to know about the brutal death of Sikandar through media reports and approached us,” she remembered. She said Qazi proved to be an ‘angel’ for us and he approached everyone at the helm of affairs from top to bottom and even contacted the then prime minister. His ‘hectic’ efforts to get justice for us bore fruits when in 2000 an FIR of the custodial killing of Sikandar Ali Jinnah (great grandson of the Quaid-i-Azam) was registered against five police officials.
“After that Qazi Sahib helped us constantly and remained in touch with us. He is an ‘angel’ not a man and I deem him as my guardian,” Khursheed Begum said while praying for Qazi. “The cops responsible for the death of my only son were put on trial and consequently handed down five years imprisonment,” she said with tears running down her cheeks. However, she said, the convicts managed to come out on bail within no time after they were sentenced. We moved the high court against the release of the convicts on bail and the case is still being heard by the high court,” she said. She also praised Advocate Qadir Khan, who, she said, pleaded her case in the trial court and now in the high court free of cost.
During the nine-year long ordeal (from 1998 to 2007) not a single government official or minister bothered to inquire about us or help us in getting justice, she complained.
“Now, we just wish that not a single citizen of the country experiences such brutalities at the hands of the police and there should be someone in the country, especially the reinstated chief justice, who should rein in the police and ensure that no one suffers at their hands,” she pleaded. (Source http://www.weeklypulse.org/pulse/article/524.html )