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Friday, July 17, 2009

Birth Centenary of Syed Ahmed Shah Patrus Bukhari - (1898- 1998)

There are few people in the world of literature who have written so little but have become so famous. Patrus Bokhari was one such person. His Urdu essays called \'Patrus ke Mazameen\' dealt with the theme of universal sameness of human beings, in a new style of literary expression and humour, a subtle blend of the thought of East and West. \'Patrus ke Mazameen\', published in 1927, was instantly recognised as a masterpiece of Urdu literature.
Ahmed Shah Bukhari, pen-name Patrus, was born in Peshawar in 1898. He went to Islamia College, Peshawar, then to Government College Lahore and finally to Cambridge. He served as Director General of All India Radio from 1939-1947 and then he joined his old Government College, Lahore, as its Principal. It is from this great seat of knowledge, that his reputation in other aspects of his great life spread. He came to be known as the teacher who transformed the lives of uncountable people who were to end as famous personalities in Pakistan.
The other aspect of Patrus that had earned his great reputation was his global knowledge and his passion for service to mankind. He made a forceful impact on world opinion by his debate with Eleanor Roosevelt in October, 1950 that Saved the Children\'s Emergency Fund and ensured the future of UNICEF for the children of the world. As a speech writer he accompanied Pakistan\'s first Prime Minister, Liaquat Ali Khan on his tour to the United States of America.
His new abilities shown through sparkling speeches earned Patrus the reward after which he was to excel more and more profoundly. He was appointed Pakistan\'s Permanent Representative to the UN in 1951. Soon he gained international recognition not only as the brilliant spokesman of his country but also for his memorable services to the cause of Afro-Asian nations and advocacy of the independence of Tunisia and Morocco. From 1955 till his death in 1958 he served the UN as Under-Secretary in charge of Public Information.
One of the most befitting tributes to him after his death leaves us in no doubt about his greatness. It was paid by Datus C. Smith, the sponsor of his edited Urdu book \'Dars-e-Zindgi\'.
Smith wrote \"of all the men and women I have known in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, I think that Ahmed Shah Bokhari was most clearly entitled to that noble designation \"Citizen of the world\" - He seemed to me to be the answer to Iqbal\'s call for a Muslim who could achieve genuine depth in his understanding of the west, yet without losing contact with his Islamic and Asian origins\".
Dag Hammarskjoeld, Secretary General of the United Nations, on several occasions spoke of Bokhari as \"a man from Asia of the highest culture\" whose \"wit and eloquence\" and \"rich and receptive mind has left its strong mark on the organisation\".
Ralph Bunche, UN Under-Secretary for Political Affairs looked upon Bokhari as \"a leader and a philosopher, a savant, and elder statesman, whose field of influence and impact was the entire complex of the United Nations family\".
Ralph Bunche at an interview confirmed Patrus\'s literary prowess for which he was already known in Pakistan through his essays. \"Bokhari had a delightful sense of humour which at times took the form of puckishness and could be employed with devastating effects. He could take delight in saying something shocking or in bringing someone up short with quietly stated pun.
Few people could recite a tale more effectively than he could\".
Bokhari believed in diversity amongst people in the sense of unity of aspirations and unity of purpose as regards man\'s reason for being in this world . He saw people as people not as races or nationalities. He had a great respect for man and would defend vigorously every man\'s right to self-respect and dignity.
Prof. Bokhari was a voracious reader and that certainly made him a scholar of English literature, which he taught at the Government College Lahore with the passion of a compulsive teacher. Shakespeare or poetry, novel or essay, his literary criticism remained technically as sound as that of any scholar Cambridge had produced. His interpretations always added a new understanding of literature.
A rare quality he possessed was his excellence in Urdu exactly at par with English. This is seen in the numerous plays of Shakespeare, Shaw and Karl Capek that he translated into Urdu.
Furthermore, he is remembered by his students for directing and acting out plays in the College Dramatic Society.
In Pakistan his virtues were often extolled by his students like Faiz Ahmed Faiz and N.M. Rashid. With a career so varied, a commitment to humanity so profound, a determination to put Pakistan before every thing else, Bokhari\'s place in history is eminently secured. Pakistan is proud to celebrate the centenary of its illustrious son.
To celebrate the Birth Centenary of renowned author and diplomat Syed Ahmed Shah Patrus Bukhari, Pakistan Post Office is issuing a commemorative postage stamp of Rs.5/- denomination on October 1, 1998.