It is tragic that one of the most highly reputed and prominent businessmen of Pakistan, Byram D Avari, has passed away. He was the owner of the Avari chain of hotels and the leader of the local Parsi community. His contributions to the country, his community, and human rights will always be remembered and cherished by thousands. It was his father, an orphan and self-made man, who instilled in him a sense of responsibility as their family believed in looking after the poor and giving back to country as well as the Zoroastrian community in Karachi.
A two-time Asian Games gold medalist in ‘enterprise class’ yachting, Avari excelled at sports from a young age and was given the Pride of Performance Award for sports in 1982. He was also a strong advocate for human rights and a protector of minority communities in Pakistan. While serving as honorary consular for Canada in Karachi during the late 1980s, Avari dealt with cases of child kidnappings and forced marriages. But it was his contribution as the minority representative in the National Assembly from 1988 to 1993 that Pakistan values the most. He not only worked tirelessly for his own community — managing to keep Parsi schools open, fighting for property rights and maintaining places of worship — but he also helped the rest of the minority community by arranging sanitation and drinking water for impoverished communities, building places of worship for Sikhs and maintaining educational institutions.
Avari’s passing should urge the government to protect minority groups that have long been suffering in the country. Other businessmen and leaders must also reflect on their contributions to their community and country. At such a crucial juncture, Pakistan needs its strongest to raise up arms against the tide of economic woes and sky-rocketing inflation.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 25th, 2023.
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