My maternal grandfather (referred to as ‘Nana’ in South Asian languages) Shamshad Ahmed Junejo, Advocate, Sindh High Court, passed away on March 26 this year. Nana was survived by his three sons and two daughters, the youngest of whom is my mother. Both his wives died when he was still alive.
Since a very young age, I had learned that my Nana had lived a very interesting life. A member of a Sindhi freedom fighter’s organisation in his school days, he went on to become a successful lawyer and a local leader of the PPP at the invitation of its founding Chairperson himself, and many more interesting people in between! I shall now put down here all that I can remember about my Nana and his life that I learnt from him.
These rememberances have been reproduced chronologically.
A UNIQUE LEGACY
When Nana was in secondary school in Sukkur, he told me that he was friends with the noted Sindhi freedom fighter Hemu Kalani and was a junior member of his ‘Sindh Swayamsevak Sena’ (if I recall that name correctly). Kalani was hanged after a botched sabotage attempt at a rail track during World War II. As my Nana recounted the story, Kalani’s associates managed to escape but Kalani himself got caught by the British authorities because of his inebriated state. I can assume the reason for this inebriation was some dutch courage. I looked up both Kalani and this organisation on the internet. Though Hemu Kalani did exist, the Sena that Nana referred to had a different name.
Nana also remembered well into old age the National Anthem of India that he was made to recite every day in the morning assembly in his high school.
After high school, Nana joined the S.M. Law College. He had told me this a few years ago (probably in 2008) when I told him about learning to my surprise that the English and Urdu speaking journalist turned politician from the PPP Shehrbano Rehman came from a Sindhi family and that she was noted lawyerHassanally A. Rahman’s daughter. It was then that he told me about being the elder Rahman’s close student at SMLC (which I now know was in the 50s). Apparently, he was also a very prominent student at SMLC as well. During his student days he was the President of the student union of his hostel which was then the Jinnah Courts premises which are now used by the Rangers. His class fellows at SMLC included PMLN old guard politician Syed Ghous Ali Shah and current CM Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah.
I never discussed this with Nana but only sadly realised this now when I was going through his documents and old black-and-white pictures. Nana became a part of local politics in his native city Dadu almost right after he graduated with his law degree. In 1955 his name was entered into the ‘Roll of Advocates’ (see pg 57 of 459 in ‘List of Advocates Registered with Sindh Bar Council’) at the‘Chief Court of Sindh in Karachi’ (now the Sindh High Court). Less than five years later, he became the elected Vice Chairman (the Chairman being the Deputy Commissioner of the district) of the Dadu Municipal Committee in 1959 (which was what they called local governments under Pakistan’s first military dictator Ayub Khan’s Basic Democracy system). I have seen and heard of people being mighty student leaders at their universities who go on to absolutely different professions, their ambitions of leadership withered and dead. Nana was a glorious exception to that trend I will forever be proud of.
Nana was also elected to the Divisional Council of Hyderabad as a member from 1960-63 and became President of the Dadu Bar Association twice, for the years 1974-75 and 1990-1991.
While he was practising law AND running the local government in Dadu, Nana met and befriended a host of interesting foreigners, all of whom were citizens of the United States of America.
- Since my childhood, I had been hearing from my mother about ‘Mr Webster’and his family who lived in Dadu when she was very young. She would tell me how her brother and sister (my aunt and uncle) were friends with the Webster daughters Debbie and Cindy (whose name, my aunt recently told me, is a play on the word Sindhi as Cindy was born in Sindh). When I googled Mr Webster a few years ago, I found to my utter surprise that ‘Mr Webster’ was actually Dr Warren Webster, a missionary from the US who came to Dadu on a proselytising mission. When I asked Nana whether he knew about this, he nonchalantly replied in the affirmative! None of his children knew who their family friend was though. Nana told me Dr Webster was a fluent Sindhi speaker. Once on a trip to South Africa, he recognised a store keeper as being a Hindu Sindhi and loudly exclaimed in Sindhi “Is there anyone here who can help me?” much to the surprise of the store keeper who hardly expected EVER seeing a Sindhi speaking white American!
- Since Nana’s passing, I did some more googling to find out who Dr Webster was. Dr Warren Webster was a missionary (and went on to become Director General) of the Conservative Baptist Foreign Mission Society which has since renamed itself ‘World Venture’. I also found a news article from the 50s (hyperlinked above) about his family’s views after their first visit to ‘Southern Pakistan’. Dr Warren Webster was also an avowed critic of segregation in US churches. A 1968 news report quotes Dr Webster condemning the hypocrisy of “some evangelical churches” that spent thousands of dollars to obtain converts in Africa yet discriminated against Negroes in their own country. He gave more importance to the faith of an individual over his or her colour or nationality. A preacher recounts an incident at the “great Urbana Missions Conference in December 1967” when Dr Webster was asked his reaction had his daughter married a Pakistani. As Pastor John Piper recalled, “With great forcefulness, Webster said something like: “Better a Christian Pakistani than a godless white American!” I think the answer was even more colorful than that (perhaps including a reference to a rich American banker. But I’m not sure). Whatever the wording, the impact on me was profound.”
- Nana was also friends with the Browns, another family of preachers from America who worked together with the Websters. Nana told me of the Browns when I found a book on the internet written by Mrs Pauline Brown about their work in Sindh. It was from Mrs Brown’s book ‘Jars Of Clay’ that I came to know of the profession of Dr Webster. Nana recounted an anecdote about Mr Brown whom Nana assessed as an honest man. Brown asked Nana before the Basic Democracies elections in 1959 what he would do once he was elected. Off the top of his head, Nana recounted three things that were needed in Dadu. As I recall, those things were a main road that needed to be metalled and a town hall was needed. I have now forgotten the third thing. All the while that Nana was talking, Mr Brown had a tape on recording him. When Nana recounted his ambitions, Mr Brown laughed and said now Nana was on the record with his promises and that he would take this recording to the people of Dadu if Nana broke his word! When I found Mrs Brown’s book on the internet, I also found out that the Brown family ran their own publishing house as well.
- I found a book about Christian missionary activity in Sindh in the same period and including the same individuals as above. It was written by one Jonathan Addleton whose parents lived in Sindh in the 50s. I can now only assume whether Nana knew the Addleton family as well.
- Nana worked as translator for the noted American anthropologist Dr. John Joseph Honigmann who credited Nana as such in his study ‘Three Pakistan Villages’. Dr Honigmann was a senior faculty member at University of North Carolina’s Institute for Research in Social Sciences.
In 1968, when Nana had attained a reputation in Dadu as a lawyer of repute and a local politician of good standing, he was approached by one Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to leave the Convention Muslim League of Ayub Khan and join the newly created Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Nana had told me many Sindhis had joined the CML because of ZAB who was much respected in Sindh as Pakistan’s young and dynamic Foreign Minister in the Ayub cabinet and was the General Secretary of the League if I recall correctly. Naturally, when ZAB approached Nana with his offer, the latter immediately accepted and was welcomed into the PPP by (as my Mum told me) a gleaming ZAB holding Nana’s hand high in his and exclaiming “Cheers!”
Sadly, Nana had to leave the PPP and go back to the CML due to pressure from an elder cousin who was manipulated into doing so by the prominent Sindhi politician (and future Prime Minister) and West Pakistan’s then Minister for Basic Democracies Mohammad Khan Junejo. Nana told me that Bhutto never forgot that and once, in a meeting at the Dadu Bar Association or at someone’s house, he had looked at Nana and jokingly remarked that “Some friends left us.” Nana told me that it was at another subsequent meeting that he clarified to ZAB the circumstance that led to his departure.
Nana did rejoin the party during ZAB’s CMLA period. As Pakistan’s first civilian Martial Law Administrator, Bhutto was planning to pass an ordinance that limited the applicability period of a court verdict to 90 days. Nana was against this law as it sought to end the authority of the court verdict which should be in force forever once passed. So he organised a protest of lawyers in Dadu at a time when the local bureaucracy had enforced Section 144 in the city; i.e. the assembly of more than four people at a public place was declared unlawful. Nana told the lawyers to protest in pairs instead of in larger groups. Thus they were able to protest without breaking the law in the city! Afterwards, the PPP lawyers in Dadu Bar Association were used by the then Sindh Law Minister to convince Nana to return to the PPP, which he did as its District Vice President.
Nana told me many other anecdotes about SZAB.
- In the 60s, opposition leader Bhutto addressed the Dadu (or was it Larkana?) Bar Association and assailed the use of Section 144. “This dictator Ayub uses this law to oppress you! I will finish this colonial era law!” One of the first things Bhutto did was use Section 144.
- Then when Ayub Khan resigned from the Presidency, ZAB was with a notable from Dadu whose last name was Mashar (pronounced Mas-har). Mashar and ZAB heard about Ayub’s resignation on the radio to which Mashar said “Ayub Khan was a decent man.” Incensed, ZAB responded in Sindhi “Decent?! He was a coward.”
- Once Nana was invited to a dinner with ZAB (probably when he was President of Dadu Bar Assoc in ’74) and the then CM Sindh Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi was there as well. Nana said during the dinner no one spoke in deference to the Prime Minister. Once lunch was over, ZAB unexpectedly questioned Jatoi’s brother about a foreign trip he had undertaken! Jatoi quickly came to his brother’s defence and said something which, again, I have forgotten.
This was THE VERY FIRST THING I learned about my Nana in my life. It was a huge surprise for me, a toddler fan of Bhutto, to learn that my grandfather had been the great Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s associate! Nana had pictures with him and had received three letters from him as well. All those priceless possessions were lost except one undated picture of SZAB at an unknown event in Dadu.