A Kashmiri family’s struggle from Baramulla to Ludhiana to Lahore

After leaving a flourishing watch business in Ludhiana, the family had to start all over again in the new land. While the elders settled in Rawalpindi with the hope of returning to their roots in Kashmir, my father moved to Lahore to start his business. After a long successful struggle, he succeeded in owning a building in Anarkali which he named 'Nazir Manzil.'

Ludhiana to Lahore

My great grandfather migrated from a small village called ‘Reshi Wund’ located in tehsil and district Baramulla in the year 1890. The migration was in protest to the repressive Dogra Rule that had monopolised both education and economic opportunities to the local population. Khawaja Ghulam Rasul with his family settled in Ludhiana, East Punjab.

Life was not easy in the new land, Khawaja Sahib passed away after a few months. My grandfather Khawaja Siraj Ahmed was 12 years old while his eldest brother Wali Muhammad was 16. Kashmiris may not be militarily strong but they are very resilient. The family responsibility now fell on the young shoulders of Wali Sahib.

Read more: Dream of a modern metropolis Lahore: A family struggle

How the Khawajas of Baramulla commanded respect in society

With no major skills, he decided to travel to Lahore in search of an opportunity. Here he learnt the watch business including its repair. On his return to Ludhiana he started his own business and trained his younger brother to repair watches while he sold them. The family agreed on a future course based on three principals: every member will indulge in business for himself and not seek employment, interest-free finances, honest hard work.

Very soon the Khawajas of Baramulla emerged as the largest importer of watches in India, they expanded their business in other cities including Simla which was the summer capital of British Raj. Wali Sahib entered politics leaving behind his business interests to his younger brother.

He was elected Council Member several times, the family started the Islamia High School which produced Dr Riazuddin who designed the Nuclear Device of Pakistan. My father Nazir Ahmed Malik was the first member of the family to graduate from Government College Ludhiana in 1939. Due to their honest hard work, the family commanded respect.

My father had to leave Nazir Manzil Ludhiana after a gun battle for his life but little did he know what lay ahead for an upright man in a crooked country called the ‘Land of the Pure’

After finishing his education Malik Sahib joined the Muslim League and rose to be the city Vice President and Secretary Finance. My grandfather Khawaja Siraj Ahmed also had the unique distinction of being the first income tax assess amongst the Muslim businessmen of Ludhiana.

Great power, greater responsibility

Then the movement for Pakistan gained momentum. Till the end, the Muslim League was made to believe that Ludhiana together with Amritsar and Jalandhar will be a part of Pakistan. In honour of their eldest son, Nazir Manzil was built in Gulchaman Gali in Ludhiana where the family lived comfortably till the day of the mob attack on August 15, 1947.

With prestige comes responsibility, in order to protect his family my father had to fight a pitched battle with the intruders. He was tried in absentia with a head money of Rs 5000/= while Wali Sahib carried a head money of Rs 50,000/= as they were considered an enemy of the state. Both escaped to Pakistan to start all over again. A new journey and another struggle.

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Nazir Manzil in the new land

After leaving a flourishing watch business in Ludhiana, the family had to start all over again in the new land. While the elders settled in Rawalpindi with the hope of returning to their roots in Kashmir, my father moved to Lahore to start his business. In lieu of ‘Nazir Manzil’ Ludhiana, he was allotted a property in Anarkali for the ownership of which he had to fight several court cases.

After a long successful struggle, he succeeded in owning the building which he named ‘Nazir Manzil.’ My journey started here in 1953. Last year in June I wrote about my struggles in the land of the pure titled: ” From Anarkali to 11th Street.”

My father had to leave Nazir Manzil Ludhiana after a gun battle for his life but little did he know what lay ahead for an upright man in a crooked country called the ‘Land of the Pure’. He fought on till the end till his time was over in September 1991.

Return of the Army to the barracks, Ope trial for the muder of Liaquat Ali Khan the first Prime Minister, Withdrawal of intelligence against the progressive writers

I grew up in Nazir Manzil Lahore which was at one time the center of the city. The children of the Mall Road as we were called, born educated and groomed on the main street of Lahore, unfortunately, we had to live through the rise and fall of our own nation.

Imran Khan also grew up on the same road but on the other end. His father Ikramullah Niazi had to struggle during the autocratic governorship of Nawab of Kalabagh finally taking early retirement to start his own engineering consulting business under the guidance of Dr Mubashir Hasan. Currently, as a sitting Prime Minister, he is struggling to get the country back on track.

Compared to Ludhiana, Nazir Manzil Lahore was more vibrant and diverse. My mother added the intellectual flavour into a predominantly business family. The after-dinner discussions were interesting and intense. My Uncle (Maternal) the progressive writer and poet Dr Saleem Wahid Saleem talked about socialism and the red revolutions that were taking place while my father the entrepreneur took pride in the struggle for an honest and dignified living.

Read more: Through Ebbs & Flows: The Political Journey of PTI & Its Current Challenges

How a ‘great’ Muslim League leader was brought to his knees

Then came the martial law in October 1958 that shook the foundations of the evolving nation. With my father the leauger we stood on the Mall near the Kim’s Gun to receive the long march led by the great Muslim League leader Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan but he never made it.

Instead, he was arrested at the Ravi Bridge and taken to the dungeons of the Lahore Fort. For his freedom, he signed an agreement with the dictator and retired from active politics. My father got disillusioned from the political environment and decided to concentrate on his business.

The progressive writers decided to take on the usurper. Dr Saleem decided to go on hunger strike outside the Civil Secretariat. Every morning the family walked from Nazir Manzil to the protest camp nearby urging him to reconsider his decision but he stuck to his demands that included: Return of the Army to the barracks, open trial for the murder of Liaquat Ali Khan the first Prime Minister, withdrawal of intelligence against the progressive writers.

So now Lahore has two Nazir Manzils’ both in memory of the Nazir’s of Ludhiana who served their new land with the best of their abilities, one as an upright businessman and the other an honest civil servant

Through false promises and negotiations, his life was saved but Pakistan and its fledging democracy was damaged beyond repair. Dr Saleem had to flee the country and his career was ruined. His wife with her two sons returned to Aligarh to live with her parents. He continued to write but he was badly bruised for life.

Debt trap

My father’s uncle Dr Anwar Iqbal Qureshi the first Indian to hold a doctoral degree in Economics, after retiring from IMF was invited by Ayub Khan to become his adviser. Dr Qureshi travelled by train from Karachi and spent a night with us at Nazir Manzil.

After dinner, there was a discussion about his plans. He was very upbeat about his loan driven economic growth. My father the entrepreneur and upright businessman warned Dr Sahib that it will be a disaster to build the edifice of the nation on borrowed money. I remember his words, ‘ It is a  debt trap’ from which we will not be able to come out.

Read more: Resolve Kashmir issue before it is too late

Money will be squandered by the unscrupulous and the nation will have to pay back. Over the years his fears have come true. Today debt servicing is the largest budget item (around 40% ). We saw off Dr Qureshi at the Railway Station, next day he took the oath of office, and rest is history as they say.

After the 1965 war debacle, demonstrations started against the dictator. Though we were too young to protest but through the proximity of Nazir Manzil we became a part of it. Finally, the bubble burst when the usurper decided to celebrate his decade of progress. There were pitched battles on the Mall between the students and the Police.

Tear Gas and lathi charge were common. Living in Nazir Manzil became difficult though we were very much a part of the protests. Finally, my mother succeeded in convincing my father to move to Shadman. Thank God this time the move was more orderly and no guns were fired, just a few trucks and we were on the ground.

Kashmir belongs to the Kashmiris only will they decide their future. Like the international movement for Bangladesh in 1970, a similar effort has to be launched for the liberation of Kashmir

Future of Nazir Manzil

Then came the question of Nazir Manzil’s future. My father wanted to form a trust to use part of the income for charitable causes. Unfortunately, he died before completing the paperwork. Mine was the only vote in favour of the family trust. Finally, I was able to adjust my share in the family inheritance to take ownership of Nazir Manzil.

Forming a trust as desired and preserving the legacy of Nazir Manzil, paperwork has been floated for the creation of A.N Foundation in memory of our remarkable parents (Akhtar, Nazir). We do not know what came of Nazir Manzil in Ludhiana as being a convicted killer/freedom fighter my father could never visit the city of his birth.

Recently Farooq Haroon a retired bureaucrat visited Gulchaman Gali and visited the ancestral house of his father Nazir Ahmed Haroon a close friend and class fellow of my father. On return, they decided to name their new house Nazir Manzil.

Read more: Kashmir: the death nail of ‘Incredible India’?

So now Lahore has two Nazir Manzils’ both in memory of the Nazir’s of Ludhiana who served their new land with the best of their abilities, one as an upright businessman and the other an honest civil servant. Nazir Manzil will now became the hub of nation building.

It is my dream to turn Lahore into a model metropolis where no one has to sleep hungry at night together with fulfillment of the basic human needs as enshrined in the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

The crusade that started in Ludhiana will continue at Nazir Manzil Lahore (IA). One day I do hope to visit Gulchaman Gali together with the land of my forefathers where the great journey of the Khawaja’s of Baramulla started for education and economic emancipation which was denied to them in Kashmir.

Read more: Royal courts and governmental ‘Darbar’ structures

My grandfather decided to settle in Rawalpindi as it was closer to Kashmir, he desired to return to his roots in Baramulla. Unfortunately, three generations are buried here in hope of returning home. There are millions more in all cities of the country. After 73 years of independence, the partition of the Indian Subcontinent is incomplete.

The valley continues to bleed. By invoking the independent status of Kashmir, India has left the field wide open. Kashmir belongs to the Kashmiris only will they decide their future. Like the international movement for Bangladesh in 1970, a similar effort has to be launched for the liberation of Kashmir.

Dr. Farid A.Malik is the Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation. (Fr. General Manager PITAC, Process Engineering Manager Intel Corporation Engineering and Management Consultant). An expert on mining and energy, currently working on developing clean Coal Technologies for Thar Deposit. He was a Shadow Minister PTI and Co-Ordinator of the PTI Think Tank where the framework of the Welfare State was developed. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

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