heritage

Towards Nation Building

The challenge of nation-building will be further fortified when the Quaid-e Azam House in Karachi becomes a full-fledged centre for Pakistan-specific literary and cultural activities.

By A. Siddiqui | March 2021

towards-nation

February, 8 2021 will be remembered as a historic day for Pakistan as the Quaid-e-Azam House in Karachi (also known as the Flagstaff House) will now become a centre of activities involving various aspects of nation building in a manner that will be highly beneficial to the citizens of Pakistan.

On this day, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Secretary, Culture & Antiquities, Mr. Ghulam Akbar Laghari on behalf of the Government of Sindh and Mr. Liaquat H. Merchant, President, The Jinnah Society and Administrator of the Estate of Quaid-e-Azam. The third signatory was Mr. Ikram Sehgal, Chairman, Karachi Council on Foreign Relations.

Mr. Liaquat Merchant is a grand-nephew of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. He has played a singular role as President of the Jinnah Society in promoting Jinnah’s struggles for the independence of Pakistan, exploitation of the British and domination of Hindus. Due to his family links, Merchant possesses a wealth of information on Jinnah’s life, his family and his estate and holds the view that Pakistan’s youth must know the importance of the idea, vision and ideals of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah concerning Pakistan, as they have to lead the country in future.

quaid-e-azamAs author of The Jinnah Anthology which has been published by The Jinnah Society in four volumes, Mr. Liaquat Merchant has projected Mr. Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s life and ideals in a completely non-political fashion. Mr. Merchant also played a major role in the making of the film ‘Jinnah’.

It is high time that Mr. Liaquat Merchant is officially recognized for his great contribution of highlighting Jinnah’s views on democracy, justice, equality, integrity, tolerance, fairplay, supremacy of the rule of law and the rights of women and the minorities. The Pakistan government must extend this recognition by awarding Mr. Liaquat Merchant the Sitara-e-Quaid-e-Azam.

The joint venture project between the Government of Sindh, The Jinnah Society and the Karachi Council on Foreign Relations is primarily aimed at promoting nation-building and re-emphasizing Jinnah’s ideals, principles and vision of Pakistan.

liaquat-marchantThe MoU signing ceremony was presided over by Syed Murad Ali Shah, Chief Minister of Sindh. Syed Murad Ali Shah also spoke on the occasion, along with Mr. Sardar Ahmed, Minister for Culture, Mr. Liaquat H. Merchant and Mr. Ikram Sehgal.

It needs to be emphasized that Syed Murad Ali Shah played a key role in developing the rightful status of the Quaid-e-Azam House (Flagstaff House) as a seat of cultural activities aimed at developing the perspectives and dynamics of the endeavours of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and serving as a source of inspiration to the people of Pakistan. While a lot more was expected by the people of Sindh, especially the residents of urban Sindh, from the Stanford-educated Murad Ali Shah, his initiatives in the planned restoration of the Quaid-e-Azam House is really commendable.

The Board of Management of the Quaid-e-Azam House comprises the Chief Minister Sindh as Ex-Officio Chairman and Chief Secretary Sindh as Ex-Officio Co-Chairman. The two Executive Vice Chairmen of the Board are Mr. Liaquat H. Merchant and Mr. Ikram Sehgal while Commodore (R) Sadeed A. Malik is a Member and Secretary of the Board.

Ikram-SehgalOther members of the Board are representatives of the Commander 5 Corps, Karachi, the Finance Department, Education Department, Antiquities Department, Commissioner of Karachi, Mr. Liaquat H. Merchant, Mr. Ikram Sehgal, Mr. Sultan Ali Allana (HBL), Mr. Shazad Dada (UBL), Mrs. Ameena Saiyid (Lightstone Publishers), Mrs. Nadira Panjwani (philanthropist), Mr. Akeel Bilgrami and the President of the Arts Council, Karachi.

The Board of Management will set up a public library at the premises of the Quaid-e-Azam House. It will be known as the “Jinnah Library”.

Other activities to be undertaken in this regard would be establishment of an audio-visual centre which will display films and documentaries on Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the Pakistan Movement. The films will feature other leaders of the Pakistan Movement as well.

The Museum on the premises will be further expanded and the relics and belongings of the Quaid-e-Azam will be brought into greater focus.

Educational and Debating-Elocution competitions and programs will be held at the premises for senior school students. Art Exhibitions will also be held there.

Events such as seminars, talk shows and literary events will be held for the benefit of citizens and the younger generation, highlighting aspects leading to the creation of Pakistan.

Apart from Talks on Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and other leaders of Pakistan, events will also be held to highlight important aspects relating to Pakistan, including its foreign relations, finance, culture, education, higher studies, universities and any other matter which would be of benefit to Pakistan. In this regard, Talks would also be arranged for the Parliamentarians. These Talks would be given by ambassadors, diplomats and consuls-general on development of international relations and diplomatic relations between Pakistan and other countries.

An auditorium would also be set up at the Quaid-e-Azam House premises where students would be invited to perform and to watch dramas and plays and attend speeches and elocution and debating contests in English, Urdu and Sindhi.

All activities undertaken at the Quaid-e-Azam House would contribute to a nation building exercise through dissemination of information on historical events leading to the creation of Pakistan.

The Finance Department of the Government of Sindh will establish an Endowment Fund in this regard. This will be known as the “Quaid-e-Azam House Nation Building Institute Fund”. The main part of the Endowment Fund will be contributed by the Finance Department of the Sindh Government. This money will be invested in securities to earn an income which will be used for the various activities to be undertaken by the Quaid-e-Azam House. It will be possible to spend 10% of the income added each year to the Endowment Fund while 90% of the income would be spent on the work and activities of nation building undertaken by the Board of Management.

The Flagstaff House was purchased by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in 1943 for his personal residence in Karachi. It was his home in the city from 1944 until his death in 1948. His sister, Fatima Jinnah lived there until 1964.

The property was subsequently sold by Mr. Liaquat Merchant and Syed Hashim Raza as Administrators of the Estate of Quaid-e-Azam to the Federal Government of Pakistan pursuant to the Order of Late Chief Justice Abdul Hayee Qureshi of the Sindh High Court. The Order laid down the purposes for which the Government of Pakistan would use the property and an Advisory Council was established for this purpose; it included the Administrators of the Estate of Quaid-e-Azam.

Despite repeated requests and reminders to successive Governments of Pakistan from 1985 up to the date of passing of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan, no serious steps or action was taken by successive Governments.

After the 18th Constitutional Amendment, the property vested in the Government of Sindh. It was through the personal interest of the Chief Minister of Sindh, Syed Murad Ali Shah, supported by the Sindh Secretary Culture, Mr. Ghulam Akbar Laghari, that a proposal was submitted by Mr. Liaquat Merchant for using Quaid-e-Azam House (Flag Staff House) as an institute of nation-building and an MoU was eventually signed.