Skip to main content

Syed Jafar Shah - An Embodiment of Integrity


RARELY DO A few, very few, in any society or a people or a nation, get singled out to be really counted upon by the dint of the sterling characteristics they possess and the distinguishing qualities they are endowed abundantly with to lead. These, which are prerequisite for a potential leader precisely include great motivation, spirit, strength, righteousness of the cause and above all, integrity all together get reckoned with as the real force-multiplier so direly needed for the guidance of a people on to the path of meaningful progress in an essentially democratic manner. Evidently, the removal of such a person from our midst is, but bound to results into an irreparable loss to put it succinctly. This is all the more true in the case of Gilgit-Baltistan – a peripheral region which lagged far behind the rest all along with the past, in terms of a genuine politico-economic activity so direly needed to overcome the gigantic problems the area faced. At such a juncture, the demise of a potential leader with proven capabilities and acumen is indeed, a colossal loss and truly the cause of concern especially at such a point time when ones services may all the more needed by the respective people. As alluded to before, Gilgit-Baltistan has all along been facing multifarious problems in the socio-political arena with the politics in the region never thrived in a meaningful manner to make its leadership very well poised to tide effectively over and being grappled with the issues the region faced as a result of the political activity ironically not blossomed forth unhindered manner for its not being allowed to go beyond the embryonic stage sans real politic. However, it is not proposed to be dilated upon here in that instant piece is aimed exclusively at constricting to the personality of late Syed Jafar Shah president PTI, Gilgit-Baltistan chapter who passed away on October 11 causing a great setback and resulting into an unfillable vacuum to put it precisely. Let it be said that the tragic death of Syed Jafar Shah at this critical juncture doesn’t bode well for G-B politics in the present scenario especially when he was fervently expecting the fructification of his tireless struggle aimed at a grand transformation to take place in connection with the core constitutional limbo the region is in for the last 73 years. But, as fate would have it, the blossoming forth of his political striving so steadfastly and faithfully espoused by him did not happen as wished in his lifetime. due to and practiced throughout his life and which he sanguinely believed to be fructuous during the last phase of his lifetime – something he so candidly made clear to an interviewer a couple of days his hospitalization. While consecrating a piece like the instant one to him, one has to bear in mind and have a thorough and comprehensive look at the track record of his lifelong transparent political career for being able to bring forth and delineate his character in order to give a genuine perspective to his personality. The unprecedented way in which death was mourned all across the region with multitudes taking gloomily to and streaming into the venue id est the Baltistania Complex, I-10/1, Islamabad at around 1600hours on October 10, for the funeral prayers and the obsequies scheduled to be performed is well indicative of and vividly a pointer to the stupendous following he had and great respect, he commanded among the public at large. The political clout he wielded among the people of Gilgit-Baltistan particularly and elsewhere generally, became all straightaway ascribable to the amazing charisma associated with his personality. This scribe saw with his naked eye how huge grief-stricken crowds rushing to and flooding the said Baltistania Compex, soon after the shocking news of the tragic demise spread like wildfire. By the time the physical remains of Syed Jafar Shah were shifted to the said venue for the obsequies, an unprecedented gathering surging like a sea had assumed gargantuan proportions.

"Memorable picture taken in Karachi perhaps in early 70s well-preserved and kept intact by Muhammad Jabir. First from right is Muhammad Jabir himself, in the middle late Aun Ali Rono, Bata Shoes,
while 1st from left is late Syed Jafar Shah.
I remember all the three were taking up residence at K-50 Commercial Area, Nazimabad."

Only seeing was believing there to witness such an unimaginably vast concourse of people from all walks of life instantly getting the place with the throng metaphorically assuming the form of a surging sea by the time of offering the funeral prayers which followed and then shifting the dead body towards Gilgit took place around 8:30 PM on October 11 and was brought to Gilgit by noon the following day where a sea of humans were impatiently awaiting the arrival with a deep yearning to have a last look at the face their valiant leader who never compromised on his principled stand during the whole of his life. Funeral prayers were held in Gilgit for the second time to be attended by thousands of people at the central mosque and then the bier was taken to nearby village Jalalabad village for consummation of the burial rites finally and to lay him dead to rest in the wake of funeral prayers for the third time, offered at his native village. An aerial view showed a bumper-to-bumper vehiclular traffic streaming towards Jalalabad was such that its other end was at Oshikhandas covering the entire road-strip in between. 

His Early Life: 

To this scribe specifically, the sad news was akin to and like falling of bombshell on him obviously for his having lost for good an illustrious paternal first cousin (phophizad) who, besides being his age-fellow, and having been brought up alongside in the early days and with schooling having taken place simultaneously at primary as well as secondary stage, at the same time and at the same place. But, nevertheless, what is all the more grieving and profoundly compounding the shock was this scribe’s inability for the sheer health reasons, to accompany and shoulder the bier. Syed Jafar Shah was born at Danyore in 1954 and his initial schooling upto class-III took place there. This was then followed by his admission in class IV at Government Primary School Jalalabad when the family moved there in the wake of a swap of land with a resident of Taisote. The exchange obviously was obviously attuned to the choice and preference of his family to live with his maternal uncles at Jalalabad. In short, Syed Jafar Shah got admission at government primary school Jalalabad which was then headed by the most revered respected teacher Ghulam Nabi Wafa those days. 

Syed Jafar Shah passed primary and moved to Gilgit and got admission in 6th class at Government Boys High School Gilgit from where he passed secondary school examination in 1970. He then proceeded to Karachi forthwith and kept studying there and eventually did his graduation. He got admission in LLB at the reputed SM Law College where he was joined in the same class by Mirza Ali from Gilgit , now a senior-most practicing lawyer of repute handling exclusively civil cases at the apex court Gilgit. During the course, he completed LLB degree and returned to Gilgit after doing a successful internship in Karachi. While in Karachi, he shared residence at K-50 Commercial Areas with late Aun Ali from Nomal who used to serve with Bata Company at Saddar, Muhammad Jabir Jalalabad, Pinjawan Khan Basin, Muhammad Saleem Khomar. They were later on joined by Ustad Ghulam Hussain Anjum Danyori there. While in Karachi, he struggled very hard like other students from Gilgit-Baltistan. He took up a work with 'Amee Jee Wali Jee' which was faciltated by late Mohammad Bashir, a resident of Khazana Road Gilgit, who himself served with the said Company for long and as such had a say there. 

On his return to Gilgit, however, he was persuaded, among others, by late Ghulam Mustafa (later District Sessions Judge) at the instance of Syed Jafar Shah's maternal uncle late Haji Syed Muhammad Ali Shah who had himself earlier been a member of Ayub Khan's Basic Democracy (BD), to contest elections. Syed Jafar Shah contested the very first elections for the Northern Areas Council in 1983 and won. He also contested the NAC elections held on 11the November, 1987 for the second time and won. He however, boycotted the sixth elections of NAC held in 1991 albeit re-contesting the elections held in 1994 from PPP platform but didin't win. In 1999, Syed Jafar Shah contested the election once again from the PPP platform and emerged triumphant. In 2004, he didn't contest the election for health reasons. However, he assumed the presidentship of PPP. Those privy to him know very well that he was constrained to join the judiciary as Judge Supreme Appellate Court, Gilgit-Baltistan simply because the only way out then for him to continue treatment of the throat cancer at Agha Khan Hospital, Karachi. This is what prompted him to accept the job offer to tide over the problem in the compelling circumstances. It is pertinent to make a mention to the effect that he was initially a great admirer of Z.A Bhutto and an ardent supporter of Mohatarama Benazir Bhutto of which would always proudly talk of. It is to be seen that as a man of strong belief and conviction, he firmly believing in the incorruptibility of leadership and as such was abhorrent of maladministration and malpractices whatsoever and always called spade a spade. In the course of time, he developed differences with the changed PPP leadership of the present times and eventually, said goodbye to PPP and joined PTI. 

His Political Acumen 

What is noteworthy in his case is the remarkable traits and character that singled him out so prominently in terms of his unquestionably charismatic leadership qualities he possessed. Incorruptible to the bone, he believed staunchly that integrity breeds integrity. There was therefore the need that the aspiring leaders begin to give sufficient attention to the development of ethos of duty, dedication, honour, integrity, honesty, competency, morals and physical courage. Motivation, spirit, mutual trust, pride, spiritual strength and faith in the righteousness of the cause being the real force multipliers which constitute the essence of good leadership. 

This, in simultaneous with the mechanics of human motivation and the hierarchy of needs that require always to be borne in mind to be intervened with the need for disciplined and mission-oriented organization of both for pragmatic and moral reasons. To him, the leader needed to be sensitive as possible, to the legitimate needs and expectations of the led with the real objective before him at any level to get any mission which may be entrusted to him accomplished efficiently. Whatever the task or whatever the objective, the leader has always been required to exhibit the highest ethical standards. 

Who can deny that the characteristic values and expectations of the would-be leader as well as the led have undergone revolutionary changes overtime and this is particularly true in the case of Gilgit-Baltistan which is devoid of constitutional dispensation for the last 73 years at a stretch. The traditional, historical and organizational elements of leadership have also undergone similar change. There is now an added dimension of the concept of leadership nowadays to encompass the ability to deal with the changing socio-political, economic, cultural, spiritual environments. 

The new dimensions require the broadening of the leader’s intellectual horizons and the scope of leadership. The leader must have a legitimate concern at every level and for every contingency - something calling for developing leadership in conformity with a new concept to be conditioned by the changed environments and the relevant political, social, cultural, spiritual and economic considerations. 

The decreasing competence and capability of our progressively unmotivated leaders who are the product of our present day society pose a need for reassessment and are cause for alarm. We, as a people, are societally complex and getting more so all the time. We are going through a period of crises in our political beliefs concerning the future. Consequently, our leadership roles require to change and become more dynamic so that they can meet the demands of the times. 

Within the prevailing environment, the art and skill of leadership must be viewed in a constantly changing perspective. 

The authority to rule is based on law. The mantle of leadership is bestowed upon one by those who are led. The fabric of good leadership is woven from many threads such as spiritual righteousness, justice, piety, technical or professional competence, compelling presence, charismatic qualities, confidence of followers, integrity, honour, bravery and many other qualities required in a leader. 

To him, 

It is pertinent to make a mention to the effect that Jafar Shah believed in the supreme leadership characteristic. He would always call the spade a spade and would never bow or bend before anyone when it came to matters requiring the a firm and principled stand.  

Late Justice Altaf Hussain and late Justice Syed Jafar Shah. The memorable pic dates back to 1988.

His Ailment 

On the first eruption of the throat problem, he underwent the throat surgery at Hearts International, the Mall Rawalpindi during which this scribe attended to him where he remained hospitalized barely for two days in 2008. As irony would have it, there was recrudescence of the problem some time later as a result of which he had to proceed to Karachi for treatment at Agha Khan Hospital, Karachi where he was diagnosed with throat cancer. What followed then is that he had to undergo a serial chemotherapy and allied procedures. As is very well known to this writer it was this grave problem that compelled him to unwillingly accept the position of Judge, Supreme Appellate Court in order to be grappled with the serious health problem. Those oblivious to the extent and gravity of his health problem were critical of his joining service but there was absolutely no other way out for him. It is pertinent to make a mention to the effect that he would consult this scribe as and when he felt the need. For instance, he did so in connection with his very first article published in the Muslims in 1989 whilst handing over a copy of his famous draft on the Provisional Constitutional Order concerning G-B which he sought to present as a private bill. It becomes deducible that to him, it was an age the zeitgeist of which was the quest for having the longstanding core problems of Gilgit-Baltistan resolved else there could be no ghost of a chance of realizing the social, political and economic objectives of the region – a thinking falling in line with the general trend of socio-political and economic spirit of the time – something impossible to achieve unless there is an awakening among the people to stand united and solid and are alive to the atmosphere around. 

Quite undeniably, it was the time of his politics coming to fruition and blossoming forth but as fate frowned upon his followers, ardent supporters, large number of friends, his family and relatives and people of Gilgit-Baltistan at large. 

Shakespeare’s couplet fits in the situation when says:

There’s a destiny that shapes our ends Rough-hew the how we will.

How oft-do the well-laid plans of men go overboard! True, destiny cannot be averted, nor can it be altered or delayed! His death came as a ‘bolt from the blue that jolted the region severely. It is being felt intensely that the fate checkmated every move of his. 

*Tenacious, he was open to conviction and would always appreciate and admit the good even in the adversaries. 

*Brutally truthful, sincere, and sensitive, he would openly and vehemently oppose any specious arguments and would call the spade a spade as he was not a man who could be cowed down and jettisoned into giving up his just ideas and ideals. 

*Endowed with a towering personality in the political arena of Gilgit-Baltistan, he was an unerring rod against the sham and falsehood. He would proclaim the truth from the rooftop and lashed hypocrisy. He was born on truth, lived by the truth, and died for the truth. He would spare none when it came to speak the truth even in the teeth of opposition and in the jaws of death, are characteristics few and far between. 

*Abhorrent as he was of any zigzaggedness in politics and dissimulation, he held strong and uncompromising views on the virtues of clean politics. 

*He had an ironed-will and possessed strong nerves to face any ‘slings and arrows’ of an outrageous fortune so boldly and manfully. But, as fate would have it, he ‘shuffled off the mortal coil’ so early and left so early to the country from the bourns of which no traveler returns. 

*Throughout the period of his protracted illness which was but bound to sap energy and impair health beyond cure, he demonstrated an exemplary courage, endurance, patience and perseverance by making unrelenting efforts to the end not to lose touch with politics as he unwaveringly deemed it a sacred duty. 

*As regards salient features of his extensive legal practice, he was always to be found so kind and sympathetic by all his clients. Regardless of his wants and legitimate needs, he would espouse grand ethical standard and professionalism at all costs.


Popular posts from this blog

Episode 1: A Window to Gilgit-Baltistan

A window to Northern Areas-I, The Muslim dated July 4, 1997. By Syed Shamsuddin   Most of our people even today seem quite oblivious of the geo-political position of Northern Areas while the exact historical background concerning Gilgit-Baltistan and where these must stand politically remains yet another subject of discussion. Not to speak of a layman, a person of the stature of Chief Executive of the country, once inquired whether the Northern Areas an integral part of the north west frontier province (NWFP). This happened when he rule the country in the aftermath of martial law. Yet another minister on Kashmir and Northern Areas, during the democratic government that followed, was pleased to tell a member of the northern areas council that he owed his minisitership not to them (Northern Areas people) but to the turbaned man of his constituency, standing at the door of his official chambers. There is infact, dearth of substantial historical evidence as to when exactly man firs

Strengthening Waste Management System

By   Syed Shamsuddin AT PLACES where urbanization is getting rapidly underway and in the absence or near absence of any urban planning, myriad problems emerge that  cumulatively affect human health together with taking a great toll on the overall environment. These long unattended challenges caused thus are always hard to be tackled at a belated stage with one go id est by ordinary means, in a scientific manner. In such a pathetic landscape, the increasing waste being produced by the rising population comes to the center stage as chief concern viewed in terms of public health. A prudent planning needs to be carried out to come to grips with these challenges effectively and scientifically for a salubrious change to happen. It is to be seen that the pristine glorious state of Gilgit - the provincial metropolis of Gilgit-Baltistan - once a tranquil habitat of simple farming communities until 1960s - was marred by an unplanned handling of the affairs blighting it as it was allowed to s