KARACHI: Whether you were one of the many bright students from this city looking to go abroad for further studies and didn’t have your own funds, or you saw an amenity plot being illegally occupied, or you ran a hospital that was desperately short of funding, or you wanted to educate poor children, 10 Mary Road was the address where you could go to and actually get some material financial help. This is the home of Ardeshir Cowasjee who died this past weekend.
He and his family, directly or indirectly, created and supported some of Karachi’s finest educational institutions, including NED University, and BVS and Mama Parsi schools. During his lifetime, Mr Cowasjee was a benefactor to many hospitals as well. Furthermore, he quietly funded many students of Karachi so that they could pursue a degree in higher education, anywhere in the world!
Mr Cowasjee was the foremost opponent of Karachi’s corrupt and brutal land mafia. He despised all those trying to create real estate empires on amenity parks and public land. He would put in his own money to fight cases against the city’s tree cutters and land grabbers. The apathy of people, rising intolerance and a general unwillingness of the people of Karachi to stand for their rights annoyed Mr Cowasjee so much so that, perhaps, he started losing his fighting spirit.
Mr Cowasjee faced death threats and enormous political pressures because of the cases that he fought against all forms of corruption. And despite that, he was generous to this city like a father. He was its Dark Knight. He could have led a carefree life given his affluence but he felt the pain of the people and went out of his way to help them.
His demise will make many corrupt mafias happy. It’s not Mr Cowasjee who left for his final journey, it’s Karachi that is left alone for the vultures to prey on.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 28th, 2012.