KARACHI: Even though his hands were shaking as he cut the cake, Pir Pagaro claimed that this is not his 82nd birthday. “I am a 32-year-old young man.”
The birthday celebrations of the founder of Pakistan Muslim League – Functional (PML-F) and spiritual leader of Hur Jamaat, Shah Mardan Shah alias Pir Pagaro, were held in Kingri House on Monday.
No political personalities were invited and the celebrations were kept simple due to the floods that caused devastation in the country. Pir Pagaro shared the celebrations with his five-year-old daughter, Amina, whose birthday also falls on the same day. A separate programme was organised for relatives and friends inside the house, where Pir Pagaro cut the cake with his daughter.
Recalling the history of his birthday celebrations, Pir Pagaro said that he started them when General Zia imposed martial law in the country and banned all political activities. “During the ceremony we used to make political strategies,” he explained.
He started his political career in 1958 with Pir Ali Ahmed Rashdi as his political teacher. According to Pir Pagaro, he supports the education of women but does not want a female ruler in the country.
A large number of Hurs [devotees] from across Sindh and other provinces, wearing white caps, were present at Kingri House and could be seen wishing each other the birthday of their leader.
PML-F MNA Jadim Mangrio, Sindh Finance Minister Murad Ali Shah, adviser to Sindh chief minister Imtiaz Shaikh and Pakistan Muslim League – Quaid senior vice-president Aleem Adil Shaikh also attended the event.
One of the successors of Pir Pagaro, Abdul Basit Hingoro, told The Express Tribune that “Pir Saeen does not meet any one without an appointment except followers of Hur Jamaat, who can see him any time because of their spiritual relations”.
Hingoro added that Pir Pagaro likes barbeque food and mutton biryani and usually takes tea and toast for breakfast. “He sleeps for hardly three to four hours and is always reading books, magazines or watching television,” he said. “He has the memory of an elephant and can recall the dates of major events from anywhere in the world on his figure tips.”
Pir Pagaro is the seventh Pagaro, meaning spiritual head, of Rashidi Gaddi and his father, Pir Sibghatullah Rashidi alias Sooriya Badshah, fought against British rule in Sindh and was later hanged.
“I wept when my father was arrested but when he was hanged I did not because our family knew that the British government would take his life,” he said.
Pir Pagaro and his younger brother, Syed Nadir Shah, were initially sent by the British government to Aligarh, India, from where they were moved to London in 1946. They came to Pakistan in 1952 and he was declared “Pagaro” by the Hur Jamaat during a ceremony in his native village, Pir Jo Goth, in Khairpur Mirs.
He has three sons, Pir Sibghatullah Rashidi alias Raja Saeen, Ali Gohar Shah and Syed Sadarudin Shah Rashidi alias Younus Saeen, from his first wife and two daughters and a son from his second wife. He said that Hur Jamaat will select the next Pagaro from among his sons.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 23rd, 2010.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: November 23, 2010
Due to an editing/reporting error, an earlier version of this article misstated that that Pir Pagara started his political career in 1985.