Residents of Allahwala Market of Arambagh were filled with joy on Tuesday when one of their own was elected as the 12th president of Pakistan.
Welcoming media persons with warm smiles, as they tried to locate the family residence of president Mamnoon Hussain, community members made their way through the busy streets of this commercial hub towards the ground floor of the Ghayan Singh Building on Tirath Singh Lalwani Road, at the back of Allahwala market, where Hussain lived till 1999.
The multi-storey building, now derelict and closed for over a decade, once housed the country’s new president where he lived in a three bedroom house till he became the 27th governor of Sindh, during Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s previous regime.
Hussain, who had a cloth shop at Bolten Market, lived in the area with his brothers and uncles who occupied separate houses in the same locality. Hussain’s elder brother, Akhtar Hussain is well known amongst residents of Allahwala market, where he served as president while running the family business. Born on December 23, 1940 in Agra, Hussain shifted to Karachi after partition with his father Azhar Hussain and other family members. Schooled in traditional religious education, the president completed his matriculation in 1958 and was awarded a B.Com Honors degree from the Government College of Commerce. Subsequently, he attended the prestigious Institute of Business Administration (IBA) in Karachi, from where he graduated in 1965.
In 1970, he married the daughter of the owner of one of Karachi’s most famous bakeries, Fresco. The incoming president has three sons who are associated with the banking industry and business.
Belonging to a family with old ties to the locality of Tirath Singh Lalwani Road and Allahwala market, Hussain too enjoys a reputation of being a man of principles.
“He was a polite, simple man with principles. The family never had any problems with anyone in the area and were known to be religious, with an export business to different countries,” said Mohammad Aslam, a resident of the Ghayan Singh Building and a childhood friend of Hussain.
Recalling memories of his childhood, Aslam said that he often played cricket and basketball with Hussain, in a ground close to Arambagh.
Hussain, who has remained associated with the Muslim League from the beginning, was introduced to formal politics by his close friend and mentor Abdul Khaliq Allahwala, a former member of the National Assembly in the 1960s. Quickly making a mark in the League, Hussain rose to become joint secretary of the party in 1967.
In 1999, he was elected as the president of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) and was soon selected by Nawaz Sharif to become governor of Sindh in June 1999. However, Hussain’s stint as governor ended abruptly after less than six months, when the Nawaz government was overthrown by the then military chief Pervez Mushrraf.
During his political career, Hussain has held important portfolios in a party he will soon have to say goodbye too. He remained the provincial general secretary of PML-N and has also served as party’s acting provincial president of Sindh chapter. He was PML-N’s central senior vice president and has also served as an adviser to Sindh’s ex-chief minister, Liaquat Ali Jatoi.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2013.