KARACHI: A highly respected former civil servant of Pakistan, Ghulamullah Din Muhammad Memon, better known as GD Memon, passed away in Karachi, on Thursday night. He was 96 years old.
GD Memon was born in Hala Old in 1915. He studied at the University of Bombay and much later at the Royal Institute of Public Administration, London.
Before Partition, he served in East Bengal as a senior civil servant in various departments. Subsequently, he served in Sindh as the secretary of finance. He also worked with the federal government’s finance department during One Unit (1957) and more notably under the supervision of the then federal finance secretary, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, who later became president of Pakistan. He had the pleasure of also working with Hakim Said and Moinuddin Hyder.
GD Memon retired from government service as a federal secretary. He was conferred the Tamgha-e-Pakistan award for his services.
GD Memon was a bureaucrat at a time when men like him were experts in their field. He was known to be an extremely strict, honest and dedicated man when it came to work. And he attached extreme importance to punctuality, arriving well before time for events, whether they were a dinner or a high-level meeting.
One of the highlights of his many contributions was his fight to win 10 million acre feet of water for downstream Kotri. He was a member of the negotiating team from Sindh that successfully convinced the federal bureaucracy to allocate the quota to mitigate environmental degradation.
“The people of Sindh still remember him because of his stand on the 1991 water accord,” recalled relative Amir Bahzad. “During the accord he, as a member of Sindh, refused the federal bureaucracy and said he would not sign the accord until Sindh received its due share.”
GD Memon applied the same fervour even if it were not such high-level business of state. He is still famous in his area where he had supervised the building of a road in 1971. “Even after 40 years, the road does not need any repairs,” said Bahzad. It was also on GD Memon’s watch that a Super Highway linking Karachi and Hyderabad was first built.
Years after he moved on from the post of education adviser to the Sindh governor, when he looked after university affairs, GD Memon continued to take an interest in this area. For example, he became a member of the governing body of Dawood Engineering College.
He was once elected the vice-president of the United Memon Jamaat.
Among the many stories of his life was the extraordinary brush with death. His son Saleem recalled how he walked out of a plane crash in Peshawar in the 1980s.
His children went on to distinguished careers of their own. Saleem Memon served as commissioner in several of Sindh’s districts and as a member of the Sindh Public Service Commission. Another son, Muhammad Aslam Memon, became an additional sessions judge. He was killed by dacoits in 1992 in Shahdadpur.
One of his daughters is Dr Seemin Jamali who now works as the joint executive director of Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre where she has headed the accident and emergency centre for years.
Another son, Bilal, works at The Express Tribune’s sports desk.
Hundreds of people will testify to the help he gave them, and not just when it came to negotiating a bureaucratic problem. For some it was as simple as a shared confidence and a word of advice. For others it was help by drafting an official application for a child’s treatment abroad.
GD Memon married thrice and had 11 children. His funeral will take place on Sunday.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 3rd, 2011.
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