On Friday morning, the city lost a pre-Partition student leader and former director general of the Meteorological Department in Karachi, to a heart attack at the age of 88.
Hasinuddin Qidwai, the son of a stationmaster, was born in Daryabad, India, in 1924 and moved to Karachi a week before Independence Day, on August 7, 1947. His granddaughter remembers what an impact the train journey from Delhi to Karachi had made on her grandfather. “He always used to talk about it – the scenery, the hospitality and the way the people treated him at the station,” she said. “He came to Pakistan himself. The family did not come with him.” He went back to India a year later to get married and returned with his wife.
Qidwai did a double masters in Physics from Lucknow University and landed a job as a forecaster at the meteorological department in Delhi. During his time at the university, he became a staunch supporter of the All India Muslim League. He joined the Muslim Students Federation and became the general secretary of the organisation. His granddaughter recalls that he once met Mohammad Ali Jinnah at the airport and he told him to move forward and do his best. “Nana was in awe of Jinnah,” she said. “Those few words Jinnah said to him at the airport prompted Nana to do his best in everything.”
After moving to Pakistan, Qidwai joined the met department and worked in Karachi for a while before moving to Peshawar, where he lived for 22 years. He moved back to Karachi and was appointed acting DG of the met department. He also went to the University of Edinburgh in the 1950s for a diploma course.
As his family mourns their loss, they remember him as someone who always wanted to do everything himself. His granddaughter, Saadia Qamar (who works at The Express Tribune) says that her grandfather was an avid reader. “I believe he read the newspaper every morning,” she said. “He used to love reading about politics, current affairs. His most recent obsession was the politics of the sub-continent.” His grandson, Sameer Qidwai, said that always wanted to do things on his own. Qidwai leaves behind four children, nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren. His daughter, Dr Uzma Ambareen, is one of Pakistan’s prominent psychiatrists.
His soyem will be held on Sunday after Zuhr at House No. 75, BOHS, Phase II, Malir Cantt.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2012.