Remembering the best of Cowasjee

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_By Rahima 

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As the fourth death anniversary of Ardeshir Cowasjee approaches, it is only prudent to look back on his life. Mr. Cowasjee; a man who was not afraid to speak out. He dedicated his entire life to his country, and was not afraid to embrace the good and challenge the bad. Unapologetic in his own right, Cowasjee was the best of Pakistan – a strong proponent of Quaid’s secular ideology, he hoped the country would see better days; unfortunately, during his lifetime, he just saw it deteriorate further.

Even with security threats, his column every Sunday would have a new antagonist – whether it be a politician or the religious right, his words echoed the sentiments of millions of Pakistanis. Love him or hate him – Ardeshir Cowasjee could not be ignored, as he fought the ills of society, not with a sword but a pen.

Leaving behind an archive of his columns, one realizes the lament in his words – an almost longing to experience the Pakistan that Jinnah had envisioned. Through his wit and words, he made us question the decisions made by those who run this country.

 

1, That time when reminded all of us that Pakistan was not the centre of the world
“In fact the rest of the world — does not awake each morning, scratch its head, and ask ‘Huh, I wonder what Pakistan is up to today?’ No, the US and the world have much with which to more than fully occupy themselves….. India, which has little better to do with itself than plot attacks upon Pakistan with the aim of annihilation.”

 

2, That time he took on those who continue to pollute the environment – earning millions while the rest of us pay the price

“The environment is under attack by industrialists, municipalities, electricity generation, transportation, builders/developers, timber mafias, land grabbers… The rich and powerful, patronized by politicians and bureaucrats, reap maximum profits destroying the environment, and then donate to charitable and religious causes.”

 

3, That time he asked some difficult questions, (and left us contemplating)

“Do we celebrate the anarchy that reigns in the northern border areas and in our southern port city, or do we repent? And in what form should be that repentance? Or do we give up, and merely hang our heads in shame at the betrayal of what could have been a perfectly viable country?”

 

4, That time in 2007 when he forced a T2F audience to face a harsh reality 

“Pakistan is going to break up in the years to come, and everyone who can, should pack up their bags and leave. Pack up and leave if you can. There’s no hope for this country…. each successive government in this country would be worse than the previous one.”

 

5, That time when he put the spotlight on the horrible state of human rights in the country

“The Second Amendment defined a Muslim by stripping an entire community of its majority rights. The Third Amendment affected the safeguards against arrest and detention under Article 10… So much for fundamental rights.”

 

6, That time when he called it a day

“On this last Sunday of this year, this is my final column in this space. Now, old at 85, tired, and disillusioned with a country that just cannot pull itself together in any way and get on with life in this day and age, I have decided to call it a day.”

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