Shahida Jaffrey Jamali remembers her illustrious husband
Sikandar Hayat Jamali was the older son of Mir Jaffar Khan Jamali, the great politician and a founder of Pakistan, from Rojhan Jamali, Jaffrabad, Balochistan. Mir Jaffar Khan Jamali was a close associate of the Quaid-e-Azam and was the leader who obtained Balochistan as a part of Pakistan. Mir Jaffar Khan and his entire family have served the people of Pakistan for generations now.
Sikandar was the older son and Mir Taj Khan Jamali was his younger brother. Sikandar joined the Civil Service of Pakistan, the CSP, belonging to the 1966 batch.
Mir Jaffar Khan was proud of his son being accepted into the prestigious Civil Service of Pakistan. Over the years the Jamali young men did exceedingly well in the political arena: Taj, Zafrullah, and Jan becoming the Chief Ministers of Balochistan and Zafrullah the Prime Minister, Rehman a minister and senator, and others as Provincial Ministers. Jan Jamali is currently the Deputy Chairman of the Senate.
Sikandar received his early education in his village, subsequently attending the Grammar School Quetta, Aitcheson College, Government College Lahore and University of Punjab, where he did his MA in history, earning a gold medal. He went on to study abroad and earned a Masters Degree in Public Policy and Administration from the University of Wisconsin, USA, and a Masters Degree in Area Studies (Middle East) from University of London. He attended numerous training courses in the US and UK, and was an exceedingly educated and enlightened man
One of his father’s proud moments was in January, 1967 when the entire batch of the CSP probationers from the Civil Service Academy Lahore visited Rojhan Jamali along with the Bengali probationers and the Deputy Directors, Mr. Shoaib Sultan Khan and Dr. Tariq Siddiqui. Mir Jaffar Khan Jamali and the family received and hosted the young probationers.
That was Mir Jaffer Khan Jamali’s last major public event as he passed away soon after. The visitors were received at the Jacobabad train station, and on arrival at the Rojhan “Mehman Khana”, Baloch men attired in their traditional dress, each riding a horse and carrying guns, fired in the air according them a traditional Baloch welcome – “scaring the young probationers from East Pakistan, Sikandar would often remark laughing.”
Sikandar held numerous important positions in the government of Balochistan and the Federal Government.He was Federal Secretary Education, Environment and Parliamentary Affairs. From 1994-96, as the Chief Secretary Balochistan, he took great strides in improving the law and order situation of the province. As Secretary Education both in Balochistan and the Federal Government he worked for the improvement of education in the country. Numerous colleges for girls were opened in Balochistan, one in an old storage building. He was thrilled with the Al Hijra Residential School in Ziarat and gave lectures in history, and the Tameer-e-Naw at Quetta. He was full of praise for the Sardar Bahadur Khan Women’s University at Quetta, of which I was the founding Vice Chancellor.
For Sikandar, his first priority in life was his heritage, his village and his family; secondly he was a Government Servant, and then his love and devotion for his friends. During the years I spent with him, half of his service time was spent as an OSD – which he jokingly referred to as an “Officer on Special Duty, in the literal sense”!! In his service – any time he disagreed, no matter what post he was holding – he took leave. As Federal Secretary Education, and in the Establishment Division, he took leave and became an OSD by choice. As the Chief Secretary Balochistan, when his cousin Zafrullah became the Chief Minister, he took leave and went to Islamabad, leaving me behind at Quetta to live in theJamali House, as I had a job at Quetta. He said his “principal duty is to safeguard the interests of the Government, and Zafrullah as a politician would have his own interests”. He vacated the official house in Islamabad when posted as CS Balochistan, as“rules do not permit to retain two homes”, and on return to Islamabad lived in a one room unit inthe Balochistan House for several months, before being allotted another official house.
Eight months before his retirement as Secretary Parliamentary Affairs, he took leave and thereafter did not accept any extension or appointment – he was offered different positions – at the Federal Public Service Commission Ambassadorial assignment, as the Vice Chancellor University of Balochistan and several more, he refused them all saying I have done “enough of the “Nokri”, done that for 35 years. But he accepted the Directorships of National Bank of Pakistan, OGDC, National Public Safety Commission, Zarai Taraquati Bank, and several others “that keeps me going”, for which he traveled a great deal, and worked really hard.
He was a superb home manager and ran a very efficient and artistic home. He lived alone most of the time as we were both professionals and lived in different cities. He loved to receive guests and entertain. He did not own a house and did not have a room for himself. After retirement, he lived in the family homes. He lived a simple life, owned a few shalwaar kamizes and 30 year old western suits, blazers and coats, and English shoes.
His life’s collection and treasure was his books, he read hundreds of pages daily, and read those scores of times. His thoughts, feelings and writings were in the style of Bertrand Russell and he wrote poetry too. He loved Balochistan and Pakistan and his heart was full of pain at the current situation of his land. He loved the shadows and the colours and light on Balochistan’s mountains and enjoyed the vast expanses of its deserts. He was a lover of nature, and beauty – and saw beauty in everything.
As Chief Secretary Balochistan, his routine was to have the Administrator of the Quetta Municipal Corporation – a DMG officer – report to the CS House at 8 am every Sunday as Sikandar had to inspect all the work going on in Quetta city, its streets, sidewalks, broken roads, garbage dumps, the clogged sewerage pipes“before the city woke up”.
Earlier in his service as a young officer in 1970, he was posted to East Pakistan for two years, he returned to Quetta, cutting short his tenure disillusioned and full of despair at the prevailing conditions, he wrote in his notes “it was a volcano ready to explode any time”, and submitted his resignation. It was Mr. Nasr-um-minallah, Commissioner Quetta, who persuaded him to continue in service. He protected the interests of the state, and never hesitated to take a stand.
His very dear and respected friend Col Qayyum wrote in a letter from Islamabad, when Sikandar was the CS Balochistan, March 15, 1996, “And how are you, don’t eat your heart out because of Balochistan! It will survive you, me and many more. What happens in the end will happen – QUE SERA SERA! Meanwhile you can take me to the Club and we can talk of cabbages and kings ….” Sikandar would constantly grieve at what had become of Quetta, Balochistan and Pakistan and would remark “I am always sad on leaving Quetta”.
Sikandar’s last few days
We were both traveling all over the country. We were in Islamabad, went to Lahore, spent time in Murree, tried for 5 days to take the flight to Gilgit to no avail due to bad weather, he traveled to Multan, attended NBP meetings in
Karachi, returned to Quetta, drove to Ziarat, and back to Quetta. I was in the Northern Areas, Gilgit, Hunza, Skardu, Shandur, Chitral Kalash, Lahore, Murree and landed in Quetta 21 July. My term of 5 years as the Vice Chancellor of the Sardar Bahadur Khan Women’s University, Quetta, ended on March 11, 2009. After having created a top class educational institution of higher learning at Quetta, I was not given an extension, which I wanted, and was heartbroken. A new VC was appointed on July 6, 2009. “This too shall pass,” Sikandar had said to me. I arrived in Quetta on July 21, 2009 from Islamabad, to pack my belongings after living in Quetta for 10 years. Sikandar was at Quetta in the Chaman Housing family home, and I was there too. He asked for my plans – I told him 6 days of packing and then to Islamabad. He remarked, we will move to Islamabad around 28 July as “this place is not worth living any more”. He excitedly mentioned, “Two days ago, I gave a lecture on history at the Tameer-e-Nau school Quetta” and was very pleased.
He had lost his appetite and did not eat much. His younger brother, Taj, had passed away two months earlier. Taj’s family came from the village on 23 July and on the morning of the 25th, Sikandar felt very weak; he suffered a silent heart attack, with the cardiologist and his Quetta friends at his side. He walked to the car, was taken to the hospital, where he peacefully left this world and all of us grieving for him. He gave none of us any warning to prepare ourselves.
Sikandar would write his thoughts and feelings on little note books, and pieces of paper. His note left in the Ziarat family cottage, dated 10-4-2008, said, “I hope to God I am able to move with the seasons and enjoy the landscape, the fruits and colours of my country. And that I die peacefully without pain and suffering”. God granted him his wish – he literally walked away. He was driven in a convoy of family vehicles and friends to his village Rojhan,
where he was laid to rest at the feet of his uncles as he had wished. Thousands of family, service colleagues, politicians and friends visited Rojhan to pay their last respects to a wonderful human being who will be missed by all who knew him.
We miss him.
A poem by Sikandar Jamali
Your spaces fill my emptiness
Your deserts my thirst
Your distances give me depth
Your mountains are my forts
Your evenings and mornings fill my yearnings
Your history is my own
Your arid future my own
Excerpts from Jamali’s hand written notes
January 7, 2005
Another year goes by and the state continues to wither away. In Balochistan there is a return to primordial tribalism, which is a criminal intransigence against the state. And the government temporizes with this situation. We are back to 18th century and its chaos….On the personal side the Renaissance Man, the Honourable School Boy, becomes more and more irrelevant in the Pakistani milieu. So what does one look forward to? There is no simple answer.
July 24, 2006
The realization has dawned on me that I am the last of the “Mohicans” in the sense that I combine the best of two cultures in my person – that of an educated believing Muslim and that of an English Public School. Such specie is dying out rapidly in this country. And like Acton, being completely alone in my views and conduct, I, in my isolation, must know to work to keep me going
‘A testament – my Will’
(written at 5:30am on April 15, 2005)
I am a Muslim conscious of the message of Islam and it’s unfolding in history. It has been a lifelong joy to have tried to understand and live in Islam. As Iqbal has put it:
“Issi kashmaksh me guzri meri zandagi ki rateen
Kabhi paich wo tabe Raazi kabhi sozo saze Roomi”
Within that search “grace” has come to me now and then, although that “peace that passeth understanding continues to elude me.. Maybe I will find it in the next world when I return to mother earth and the Eternal Kingdom…
What have I lived for – Bertrand Russell has all said it before, seldom can human beings put it so succinctly …In my mundane level two things dominated my life – one that my family which had great tradition of service to the people should acquit itself gracefully till the end, knowing that this heritage/tradition will pass away together with the traditional society in a generation or two; and two that as a servant of the state, I should do all I can to uphold its laws, to protect its interests and to build its institutions. I have tried to live up to those responsibilities, success has not been manifest – yet it has been worth it.
Now when the end might be near I would address certain practical issues that accrue upon one’s death. I be buried in our ancestral graveyard at the feet of my uncles. Very little be spent on feeding guests. A simple Qul be observed and Khairat for the people of Rojhan only. (He sorted personal matters too)
I have tried to live a simple life with varied interests, in history, literature, travel, sports and in this poor country was doubly blessed by a silver spoon as of birth, a wonderful education and a bent of my own mind. Allah gave me enlightenment and insight into the affairs of the world and character of men. I have had wonderful friends and a great family. life with all its ups and downs has been a wondrous adventure…. I wish others be so blessed. Amen.
Signed: Sikandar Jamali”
Dr. Shahida Jaffrey is the wife of the late Sikandar Hayat Jamali and the Founder Vice Chancellor of the Sardar Bahadur Khan Women’s University, Quetta, Balochistan