Monday, November 30, 2009

Biography of Mr. Shaikh Nazrul Bakar

Mr. S.N. Bakar during his tenure at Oxford University.

Mr. Shaikh Nazrul Bakar was born on December 31, 1913, at Wazirabad, Punjab, Dominion of India. His father, Mr. Shaikh Abdul Majid, was a prominent business man of Wazirabad; who later moved to, and re-established at, Rawalpindi and Murree, India. His companies included an import and export business, as well as a pair of premier retail shops, which sold high-end crockery, general housewares and imported toys. Mr. Majid had five sons and two daughters, with Shaikh Nazrul Bakar being the eldest. When Mr. Bakar was growing up, there was always the expectation that as the eldest son, he would one day take over his father's business. Mr. Bakar's elementary and secondary education was at St. Denny's High School in Murree, which was a missionary, British run school. From an early age, he began to develop an interest in political science and government service. His interest continued to grow throughout his study at Punjab University, from where he graduated in 1934 with a Bachelors (Honours) Degree. Upon graduating, Mr. Bakar decided to break away from the family business, and applied to the Indian Civil Service (I.C.S.).

The Indian Civil Service was a highly exclusive, elitist cadre of the Indian government. To become an I.C.S. officer, one had to pass a series of rigorous, competitive examinations. In 1935, Mr. Bakar appeared for the All India Open I.C.S. Competition, which admitted only approximately fifty people per year, out of the thousands that applied. He performed exceptionally well, and distinguished himself by receiving one of the highest scores in the entire nation, resulting in his admission into the Indian Civil Service. Later that year, he was sent to England at government expense, to study at Keble College, Oxford University. In 1937, Mr. Bakar graduated from Oxford with a Masters Degree, focusing on History, Political Science, and Zoology.

Upon completing his education, Mr. Bakar returned to the Dominion of India in mid 1937, and was given his first posting as the District Magistrate and Collector of a District in the Province of Bengal. He was the chief administrator of the Civil Service in that region, which encompassed several towns and villages with a combined population in excess of a million people. As the District Magistrate, he was an extension of British power and authority, and thus enforced the law, in addition to performing many other public and administrative services.

In March, 1940, Mr. Bakar married the beautiful Sultana Ijaz Ali, daughter of Khan Bahadur Syed Ijaz Ali, O.B.E. They had five children, including three sons, Riaz, Niaz, and Shahbaz, and two daughters, Rumana and Farzana.

Mr. and Mrs. S.N. Bakar's Wedding, March 1940.

During World War II, Mr. Bakar held several senior appointments within Bengal, and was posted at the cities of Jessore, Dacca, Chittagong, and Calcutta, at various times.

In 1947, the Dominion of India was partitioned, due to irreconcilable religious differences between the Hindus and the Muslims. The split of the British colony resulted in the creation of the sovereign states of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the Republic of India. Mr. Bakar was given the choice of remaining with the I.C.S. or joining its equivalent, the Civil Service of Pakistan (C.S.P.). He opted for the latter, and continued serving with the newly created Government of East Bengal. Later that year, he was appointed Private Secretary to Khwaja Nazimuddin, Prime Minister of East Bengal.

Mr. S.N. Bakar (Seventh from the right) with Khwaja Nazimuddim, Prime Minister of East Bengal (1948)

In 1949, Mr. Bakar was posted to the capital city of Karachi, as Joint Secretary, Ministry of Interior. He held this post until 1952, when he was appointed Director General of Civil Defence; with the Honorary Rank of Air Vice Marshal. He was the founder of the Civil Defence Corp of Pakistan. In 1953, he was selected to go to the United Kingdom; this time for a year of training at the Imperial Defense College, London. In June of the same year, Mr. Bakar was invited to attend the coronation of Queen Elizabeth the Second, the present reigning Monarch of Great Britain. He was decorated with the Coronation Medal.

Mr. and Mrs. S.N. Bakar in an Inaugural PIA flight during his tenure as the Director General of Civil Aviation.

In 1954, Mr. Bakar returned to Pakistan as Director General of Civil Defence. He was a key player in running and further building up the Civil Defence Corp of Pakistan, which involved protecting and ensuring the well-being of civilians in the event of war. In 1955, Mr. Bakar was posted to Dacca, which was the capital of East Pakistan, as Director General of Civil Supplies.

Mr. and Mrs. S.N. Bakar in Karachi Airport's Lounge (late 1950s).

Mr. S.N. Bakar signing the Bilateral Air Accord with the Italian Authorities in Rome (1957).

Mr. Bakar returned to his home province in 1956; where he was Officer on Special Duty with the Punjab Government for one year.

In 1957, Mr. Bakar was appointed Director General of Civil Aviation in Karachi. At the time, the U.S. Aid Group was planning the extension of Karachi Airport's main runway from four thousand to six thousand feet. Mr. Bakar, with characteristic foresight, went contrary to their recommendations and insisted that a new ten thousand foot runway be built instead; in order to accommodate the new passenger jet liners, like the Boeing 707 and the Douglas DC8. Despite opposition by powerful vested interests, he maintained his position and prevailed. The ten thousand foot runway that was built ensured Karachi's preeminent position in that region as a hub for commercial airline traffic, because no other city in the region, including New Delhi and Bombay, had the capability to host the Boeing 707 or the Douglas DC8. The spin off benefit from having this capability was tremendous, as it resulted in the rapid modernization of the city. Karachi also became a major destination and transit airport for many important airlines, including Pan American Airways, British Airways, Air France, KLM, Lufthansa, Alitalia and Swiss Air. During Mr. Bakar's tenure as Director General of Civil Aviation from 1957 to 1959, he initiated and signed several bilateral agreements with various countries that allowed reciprocal landing rights. He also received several dignitaries and heads of state, including Nikita Khruschev of the Soviet Union, Prime Minister Harold MacMillan of United Kingdom, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi - the Shah of Iran, President Sukarno of Indonesia, and King Zahir Shah of Afghanistan.

Mr. S.N. Bakar receiving Nikita Khruschev, Chief of Communist Party, U.S.S.R. (1957).

Mr. S.N. Bakar receiving Mr. Harold Macmillan, Prime Minister of Great Britain (1958).

Mr. S.N. Bakar receiving the Shah of Iran (1958).

Mr. S.N. Bakar receiving President Sukarno of Indonesia (1958).

Mr. and Mrs. S.N. Bakar with General Ayub Khan and Mr. H.S. Suhrawardy (1958).

Mr. S.N. Bakar receiving King Zahir Shah of Afghanistan (1959).

Mr. S.N. Bakar receiving Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah, sister of the Founder of Pakistan (1959).

In 1959, Mr. Bakar retired from the Civil Service of Pakistan. He then set up several of his own businesses which included the import and export of various commodities and pharmaceuticals, and the manufacture of industrial fasteners, including screws, nuts, and bolts. His manufacturing company, Riaz Enterprises Ltd., evolved into one of the premier manufacturers of high quality standardized fasteners in Pakistan.

On September 26, 1966, Mr. Bakar tragically passed away at the age of only 53. Despite his relatively short life, Mr. Bakar accomplished more than most people even dream of; through his brilliance, unwavering dedication, will power, and charismatic personality. He had a distinguished career, both as a pioneering civil servant and as a businessman of the newly created Pakistan. Not only did he leave a significant and worthy legacy in Pakistan's civil service; he also helped establish one of Pakistan's greatest artists, Sadequain. Mr. Bakar met Sadequain in 1957 when Sadequain was a complete unknown, but instantly recognized his tremendous artistic talent. From 1957 onwards, Mr. Bakar nurtured Sadequain's gift by patronizing his works and by commissioning him to do mural paintings for various airports, including Karachi. Today, the New York Metropolitan Museum holds some of Sadequain's works in it's Permanent Collection. On a more personal note, Shaikh Nazrul Bakar was a man of great virtue and provided an exceptional role model for his five children. His youngest son, Shahbaz, remembers him fondly and holds dear the great wisdom he embodied and imparted on him; wisdom which has guided Shahbaz throughout his own life.