Jinnah Award: For Ardeshir Cowasjee, recognition of a lifetime of wit, fight and philanthropy

Published: December 21, 2011
The columnist and philanthropist, Ardeshir Cowasjee, was presented the 11th Jinnah Award at the head office of the Oxford University Press on Tuesday. He is seen here going through a memento presented to him, a leather-bound compilation of his work published in Dawn over the last ten years. PHOTO: NEFER SEHGAL/EXPRESS

The columnist and philanthropist, Ardeshir Cowasjee, was presented the 11th Jinnah Award at the head office of the Oxford University Press on Tuesday. He is seen here going through a memento presented to him, a leather-bound compilation of his work published in Dawn over the last ten years. PHOTO: NEFER SEHGAL/EXPRESS


This year the Jinnah Society has presented its 11th Jinnah Award to columnist and philanthropist Ardeshir Cowasjee in recognition of his outstanding and dedicated services to the country.

The ceremony was held at the head office of Oxford University Press on Tuesday with former ambassador Jamshed Marker as the chief guest.

A dapper Mr Cowasjee arrived in a dazzling cream suit set off with a screaming silk turquoise tie. The look was completed with an elegant gold-tipped walking stick and a pink flower at the lapel. His wit was as sharp as his threads:

“Asalam-o-Alaikum,” he started off with a twinkle in his eye. “I am overwhelmed and thank all of you who are here to waste a great deal of your valuable time.”

And then, it was his turn to be surprised as he was presented a leather-bound edition of his articles and columns published during the last ten years. He has written a total of 960 articles in 22 years, all of which have been published in the daily Dawn newspaper.

And while Mr Cowasjee is perhaps best known for his byline, theatre and television artist Khalid Ahmed read out a citation to highlight his philanthropic work. Through the Cowasjee Foundation, he has funded the education of countless Pakistani students.

The foundation has sponsored one of The Citizens Foundation’s schools, the Cowasjee Campus in Lyari, the construction of the Cowasjee School of Midwifery at the Lady Dufferin Hospital and it is helping build a school at NED University campus as well.

The foundation has also worked with institutions such as the SIUT where a dialysis ward and lithotripsy centre have been set up. It’s funding has been channeled to Jinnah hospital where the accident and emergency operation theatre unit was constructed.

Mr Cowasjee has dedicated time and effort to focus on making people aware of the misdeeds of Pakistan’s rulers and the different ways in which the people have been exploited by their compatriots. He has mostly done this through his fearless weekly columns that have made him a household name.

Indeed, Liaquat Merchant, the founder of the Jinnah Foundation, highlighted how Mr Cowasjee drew heavily on Pakistan’s founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, to make his arguments. “I think there is no one in the country who has cited Jinnah more than Ardeshir Cowasjee,” he said.

Mr Cowasjee is an ardent supporter of Jinnah’s speech of August 11, 1947 about secular Pakistan, pointed out PR company owner Babar Ayaz while talking to The Express Tribune. “To acknowledge Ardeshir Cowasjee’s contributions is to acknowledge the fact that Jinnah had envisioned Pakistan as a secular country and not an Islamic republic,” he remarked.

These words were not lost on Dinaz Divecha, a visiting lecturer at the NED University of Engineering and Technology, who was in the audience. “I’m feeling very proud as a Parsi today,” she said. “[Mr] Cowasjee is admired not only in Pakistan but all over the world for his outspoken stance on sensitive issues while deterring the threats to his life. In fact, it is an honour for Parsis living all over the world.”

Mr Cowasjee joins the list of recipients which include personalities such as Abdul Sattar Edhi, Hakim Mohammad Said, Dr Adib Rizvi, Dr Akhtar Hameed Khan, Dr Ishrat Husain.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 21st, 2011.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • Cynical
    Dec 21, 2011 - 3:41AM

    I am not sure who has been honoured by whom at the end of this award ceremony.
    But out of sheer instinct of being politically correct, I would say that Sir Ardeshir Cowasjee has been honoured and he has earned it with impecable credentials..


  • Falcon
    Dec 21, 2011 - 4:19AM

    A great intellectual and a compassionate philanthropist. He is truly an asset for our country. We are certainly proud of him!


  • Adnan
    Dec 21, 2011 - 7:01AM

    He is a very seasoned writer and a great intellectual. He has earned this Award. My felicitation to him for getting this honour.


  • SJ
    Dec 21, 2011 - 7:07AM

    Congratulations to you Cowasjee sahab. Pakistan is definitely a better place with you around. May I say that you have just increased the credibility of this award.


  • vasan
    Dec 21, 2011 - 7:11AM

    Congratulations Mr Cowasjee, I am a fan of yours by reading your articles in Dawn.


  • American Desi
    Dec 21, 2011 - 8:00AM

    He has made a career out of Jinnah.


  • c.m.sarwar
    Dec 21, 2011 - 8:14AM

    The best thing about Cowesjee is his steadfast courage and passion for truth.Look at the lists of those who succumbed to temptations and/or bullying.Only if this nation had not lost sight of Quaid-e Azam’s great speech of 1947 to the Constituent Assembly ,suppressed and distorted by the forces of darkness we would have been a different nation My warm felicitations to Cowesjee.Recommend

  • Javed
    Dec 21, 2011 - 8:50AM

    The only single good news for the year 2011 and an action which tells us we still have some civilised mannersRecommend

  • rubina
    Dec 21, 2011 - 9:13AM

    Mubarak ho, Sir.
    Thank goodness I can read….otherwise I would have been deprived of the joy of reading your column.


  • Parsi
    Dec 21, 2011 - 9:29AM

    Proud to be a Parsi – always have been but occasions like this just increase this feeling.


  • Kathleen Kisting Alam
    Dec 21, 2011 - 1:16PM

    Congratulations, Ardeshir. You prove that that when wit is sufficiently brilliant, it will light the path of honesty, courage and integrity. This award is well justified in your hands.


  • MH
    Dec 21, 2011 - 2:45PM

    Finally some decent news. :) Well deserved Cowasjee! :)


  • Dilnavaz Malbari
    Dec 21, 2011 - 3:34PM

    Heartiest Congratulations!! Sir. Proud to be a Zoroastrian.


  • Junaid
    Dec 21, 2011 - 11:23PM

    Cowsjee and co. please do read and let me know what do you think of below sayings of Mr.Jinnah:

    “We should have a State in which we could live and breathe as free men and which we could develop according to our own lights and culture and where principles of Islamic social justice could find free play.”
    Address to Civil, Naval, Military and Air Force Officers of Pakistan Government, Karachi
    October 11, 1947
    “You have to stand guard over the development and maintenance of Islamic democracy, Islamic social justice and the equality of manhood in your own native soil. With faith, discipline and selfless devotion to duty, there is nothing worthwhile that you cannot achieve.”
    Address to the officers and men of the 5th Heavy Ack Ack and 6th Light Ack Ack Regiments in Malir, Karachi
    February 21, 1948

    “Pakistan not only means freedom and independce but the Muslim Ideology which has to be preserved, which has come to us as a precious gift and treasure and which, we hope other will share with us”
    Message to Frontier Muslim Students Federation
    June 18, 1945

    “The vital contest in which we are engaged is not only for the material gain but also the very existence of the soul of Muslim nation, Hence I have said often that it is a matter of life and death to the Musalmans and is not a counter for bargaining.”
    Predisential Address devlivered at the Special Pakistan Session of the Punjab Muslim Students Federation
    March 2, 1941

    and so on and on and ooon….

    Cowsjee and co., do you say or think that Mr.Jinnah used islamic ideology to create a country? and afterwards make it a secular one?


  • c.m.sarwar
    Dec 21, 2011 - 11:33PM

    @American Desi:
    Dear sir,when did Cowesjee need any props to make a career? You will do well to acquaint yourself with his background ,his achievements in life and what his passion was all his life.


  • Kersee Kabraji
    Dec 22, 2011 - 7:37AM

    Well done, Sir. A great job and great accomplishment.
    I too am proud of being a fellow-Zoroastrian.


  • Pesi Padshah
    Dec 22, 2011 - 1:10PM

    Regardless of his race or religion, it is heartening to know there is an Ardeshir Cowasjee among us, who works selflessly towards improving the lot of his fellow-humans. .


  • Kersi Shroff
    Dec 22, 2011 - 5:04PM

    Congratulations to Mr. Ardeshir Cowasjee for achieving the award named after the great Quaide Azam. Mr. Cowasjee strongly upholds and reflects the great values that Mr. Jinnah would have liked to see in the country that he largely created. Mr. Cowasjee’s honesty and frankness in writing on Pakistan’s problems as he sees them may have created many critics, but view points such as his are sorely needed for the betterment of the country. His old wordly wit and dapper style are a joy to behold. May Mr. Cowasjee’s articles for Dawn go well beyond the one thousand mark.


  • Parvez
    Dec 23, 2011 - 1:57PM

    Honouring someone who deserves to be honoured is a commendable exercise in itself.
    Congratulations to Mr.Cowasjee.Recommend

  • Sana
    Dec 25, 2011 - 1:00AM

    Well Deserved. Congrats Mr. Cowasjee!


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