Obituary: Abu Musa S. Ahmad (15th March 2014) By Khwaja Sayeed Shahabuddin

March 17, 2014

ABU MUSA S.AHMAD, S.PK., SK., TQA  a former Secretary to the Government of Pakistan, Ministry of Home and Kashmir Affairs, passed away in Karachi yesterday, 15th March 2014 and was buried in the Defence Authority Gizri Graveyard  next to the grave of his wife – my sister – the late Bilquis Ahmad. May his soul rest in eternal heavenly peace.

MUSA, as Abu Musa Sharfuddin Ahmad was lovingly and affectionately known in his family, and to relations, friends and service colleagues..He lived in Karachi .with his elder daughter Naheed, her husband Sami Mustafa and their children Naadir and Taymur. He returned from Washington, where he was living by himself, in April 2005, when his daughter Naheed went to the United States to bring him and she was joined by her eldest son Daanish from the U. K.

Apart from his personal life, from which there are many lessons to be learnt, as a public servant he held highly responsible positions in the Central and Provincial governments of Pakistan, the country he opted to serve when the partition of India took place in 1947. At that time he was posted as Deputy Commissioner of Police, Calcutta, which was a great honour for him as, never before had any officer with less than twelve years service been appointed to this post.

The various appointments he held in Pakistan included:  Secretary to the Government of Pakistan, Ministry Home and Kashmir Affairs; Secretary, Information, Basic Democracy & Local Self Government, in East Pakistan; Deputy Director, Intelligence Bureau; Director, Bureau of National Reconstruction in the Eastern Wing, and later in Karachi; Managing Director, Pakistan Television Corporation; Vice Chairman, Export Promotion Bureau, Chairman, Trading Corporation of Pakistan etc. He had the privilege of witnessing from very close quarters what went on in the country in those days. Unfortunately, or may be fortunately for him, he became a victim of intrigues and power politics. These actions caused him much pain and frustration.

One of his foreign associates who had known about his achievements, and noticed the way he was being treated by the Government, became the source of his move from Islamabad to Washington in 1973 to work for the World Bank for almost ten years. On his retirement from the Bank he served as a Consultant to The World Bank and various United Nation Organisations for three years or so, and then retired finally and settled down in Washington along with his wife Bilquis.

Musa, the eldest son of Janab Serajuddin Ahmed Sahib, was born at Kalia, Jessore (Eastern Bengal) on 1st March 1917, and went to various schools as he moved from place to place according to his father’s postings. His father was an educationist, having graduated from the Muslim University, Aligarh, where one of his room-mates was Mr. H. S. Suhrawardy. After graduating from the Dhaka University Musa joined the Indian Police Service in the year 1941. With him, at the Police Training College, Sardah, was Khwaja Muhammad Kaiser (later, a former Pakistani Diplomat), who became one of his closest friends.  He served as Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) in various districts for several years.

However, when he was barely twenty three years old, and had been in the Police Service for little over a year, he was called upon to face the greatest tragedy of his life till then. His parents – his father was then the Headmaster of Barisal Zilla School – passed away within thirty six hours of each other. Apart from the grief and sorrow, Musa had to take over the responsibility of taking care of his orphaned, two brothers and four sisters, all of whom were very small.  They were divided and sent to live with Musa’s two married sisters and two uncles. The break up of the family was cruel, but, unavoidable under the circumstances. It was fortunate that his brothers and sisters found loving and caring homes, though separated from each other.

It was in the year 1945 when Musa was posted as SDPO, Narayanganj, for the second time, that he felt concerned about providing a home for his brothers and sisters who had been parted from one another since August 1942. It was providential that around this time a relation of his asked him if he would agree to propose marriage with the daughter of Khwaja Shahabuddin. He said, yes, without considering the pros and cons of such a match. In the words of Musa himself: “It seems now that Allah, in His infinite mercy, selected this match as His greatest blessing for me.

I have not been able to figure out to this day, why Abbu (Khwaja Shahabuddin) consented to this marriage. Bilquis was his favourite child. What induced him to give her in marriage to me, who had such heavy responsibilities, and no income except my salary which, however good at the time, was no where near what was needed for a family with six children to be brought up.”

(All quotations are extracts from the manuscript of his unpublished book: “My Life: An Autobiography of a Public Servant” which was serialized in the Dhaka Nawab Family Newsletter.)

Musa and Biquis were married in Calcutta on 13th May 1945. The wedding was a very simple affair. The Barat (the Bridal Party) consisted of a few elders of his family and included Omar Mama (Mr. A. Z. Muhammad Omar, though an uncle by relation, they have been together right from their school days,. He passed away a few years ago having attained the age of 90 years in 2006; and a few others which included his very close friend K. M. Kaiser (KMK) as the most prominent outsider.  The Nikah took place in the morning followed by Rukhsati the same night, and they left for Darjeeling the following night for their honeymoon.

Narayanganj, where Musa was posted as Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO), was to be their first home together. Shortly after their arrival all his six brothers and sisters, for whom they were to be responsible, were brought over and left with them.  As Musa writes: Any other wife would have revolted at this – we were hardly married for a month – as on our first few days in our own residence we had six children to be responsible for. But Bilquis took all this in her stride and made them feel at home and happy, played with them and really cared for them. She was like a life-long loving, caring sister to them, and over the years she never got tired of her role and gave my orphaned brothers and sisters her best, treating them as her own. My life was transformed with peace and happiness.” 

When the partition of India took place on 14th August 1947, Musa was posted as the Superintendent of Police, Rajshahi District, and in 1949 he was appointed Assistant Director, Intelligence Bureau, Dhaka, and transferred to the Intelligence Bureau, Karachi in 1951.

In 1955 the South East Treaty Organization (SEATO) and the Baghdad Pact, which later became Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), came into being, and Musa represented Pakistan at the meetings of the Security Committee of both these organizations from 1955 to 1958.

In the first part of the concluding chapter of his book, Musa writes extensively and in great detail about his study of the Holy Qur’an which he has been doing for the past forty years, and the Message it has for all humanity containing guidance, knowledge and wisdom. It makes him contemplate on the oft repeated verse from Surah Ar-Rahman: “Then which of the favours of thy Lord will ye deny”, taught to him by his father who was the most pious man that he ever came across.

Once more Musa had to face a very serious situation about which he writes: “I cannot help but take my mind back to December 1989, when, my love for my wife, BILQUIS, and how I needed her, came to sharp focus. She had a very serious heart attack and hovered between life and death in the Intensive Care Unit of the Suburban hospital, in Maryland, for over a month and a half. Right from the start the doctors told me that chances of her recovery were very slim, and within a short time her kidney failed and her lungs got flooded. Other complications like blood infection, bladder infection, intestinal infection and ulcer developed.

Dr. Tariq Mahmood who used to look after us generally, an excellent cardio-vascular specialist, was away on holiday and came back three days after Bilquis was admitted to the hospital. He told me that the situation is not as grim as the other doctors feared, and that Bilquis did have a chance for recovery. But then all other complications set in and even Dr. Mahmood could not give me any hope, but, asked me to pray to Allah. He, however, left no stone unturned to give Bilquis a chance. He put about eight other specialists to take care of the varied complications. All of them worked very hard, and the nurses became very fond of her and did an excellent job of complying with the directions given by the doctors. It is impossible to describe the period of tension and anxiety that I went through along with  Naheed, her husband Sami, Nuzhat and my grandson Daanish, all of whom were with us at the time.”

“The Lord Almighty listened to our prayers, and by His grace and infinite mercy granted Bilquis a miraculous recovery. She came home after a two-month stay at the hospital I shall not, with every breath of my life be able to express my deep sense of gratitude to Allah Ta’ala for showering His grace and merciful blessings on Biquis, our children and me. Then which of the favours of thy Lord will ye deny?”

During the next eleven years, in spite of poor health, Bilquis tried to lead as normal a life as she could, and made several trips to Pakistan. In early 2000 she was not too well but forced herself to come to Pakistan. She even went to Dhaka to meet her relations. Then it was time for them to return to the United States. Bilquis was not feeling too well but was determined to travel and that too via Islamabad as she wanted to meet her sister Hushmat in Rawalpindi. The night before their departure from Rawalpindi for America she fell ill and had to be hospitalized.

The Lord Almighty, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful granted one of His most beloved creatures, Bilquis Ahmad, the opportunity to say farewell to all her near and dear relations and friends before calling her to return to her eternal heavenly home in the early hours of Friday 10th March 2000, to rest there in peace. Her body was brought to Karachi and buried at the Defence Housing Authority graveyard in Gizri.

“Looking back on my life” wrote Musa “I feel most humbly grateful to Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala, the Most Gracious and the Most Merciful, for His blessings that He has showered on me in my personal, family, social and professional life. When I review my entire life in its varied aspects, which I do frequently, I am made to realize the implications of the oft repeated verse in Surah  Ar-Rahman, the 55th chapter of the Holy Qur’an: Then which of the favours of thy Lord will ye deny.”

                                                                                       ****

2 Responses to “Obituary: Abu Musa S. Ahmad (15th March 2014) By Khwaja Sayeed Shahabuddin”

  1. Iftekhar Hassan Says:

    ” Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilayhi Raaji’oon”

    ” Verily in the remembrance Allah, Do Hearts Finds Rest ! ”

    Dear Sayeed Mamu,

    Please accept deep condolences on behalf of me and our family in the United States, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

    We wish all his family and love ones peace, strength at this bereaved moment. Mr. Musa was simply a legend !

    I remember Musa Khalu, I met him first in 1979 in their home in Bethesda Maryland, when my mother first came to the United States. We lived only a mile away.

    I also last time I saw him he was playing golf at one of the country club in Montgomery county, Maryland. He was a great golfer, that forgot to mention.

    Our prayer are for his departed soul,

    “And to Allah belongs the inheritance of the heavens and the earth….” (Surah Aal-Imraan:180)

    “The kingdom of the heavens and the earth and everything in them belongs to Allah. He has power over all things.” ( Surat al-Ma’ ida: 120)

    ‘Say: ‘To Allah belongs the East and the West…’ (Surah al-Baqarah:142)

    Now, since everything belongs to Allah, then we have to include even our souls in that list.


  2. “inna lillahe wa inna ilaihe rajeun”…

    A very well written article as well.


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