ARTICLE: Most people get to live one life;a goal in which only a few find success. But Dr Zafar Hassan was fortunate to have lived three successful lives in a single lifetime: a businessman, a changemaker, and a scholar.
Born in Kanpur, India, Dr Hassan's family settled in Chiniot post-partition.His family business interests spanned leather, wool and real estate sectorssince the beginning of 20thcentury. Unlike most of his businessmen contemporaries, however, Dr Hassan displayed a unique desire for scholarship in diverse disciplines.
After his initial schooling in Aitchison College, Lahorein 1953, the young Zafar Hassan went to Germany for a four-month apprenticeship ata mechanical engineering plant, and eventually obtained a Bachelor of Science in Textile Technology from North Carolina State College (now University) in 1958.
Upon his return to Pakistan in 1960, he receivedhis MA in English Literature from Karachi University followed by an L.L.B degree from the S.M. Law College, Karachi two years later. Although he had started working soon after completing his law degree, his desire for knowledge never actually waned. His terminal degree was a Ph.D in Urdu Literature in 1976 from Sindh University, where the famous literary critic, linguist and author, the late Dr. Ghulam Mustafa Khan, was his supervisor for his doctoral dissertation.
Dr Hassan's doctoral dissertation was also rather unique for someone who was keenly involved in business and science. Titled "The Concept of Nature in Sir Syed and Hali" (in Urdu), the first edition of his
doctoral thesis was published by the Institute of Islamic Culture, Lahore. But this wasn't his only scholarly feat.
His book "Art and Achievement of Gulzar" published by Sang-e-Meel Publications, Lahore, in 2008 covers a wide range of activities of the distinguished Indian filmmaker and literary figure, Gulzar. A second edition of "The Art and Achievement of Gulzar" is now under preparation.Gulzar later dedicated his book of short stories captioned "DEODHI" to Dr. Zafar Hassan.
Dr Zafar Hassan is also one of the few Pakistani businessmen who had befriended the Nobel laureate Professor Abdus Salam. He was the lead editor of Professor Salam's selected essays titled "Ideals and Realities".
Since its publication in 1984, the book has been translated into more than 25 languages including French, Arabic, Turkish, Romanian, Italian, Urdu, and Persian.
And if a man is known by the company he keeps, Dr Zafar may well be known as a poet as well. Influenced by the noted Urdu literary critic and thinker Professor Mohammad Hasan Askari, Dr Zafar's home was frequented [SJ1]by many poets and literati including IntizarHusain, Salim Ahmed, Professor KarrarHusain Noori, Mushtaq Ahmed Yousafi, Niaz Fatehpuri, and Behzad Luckhnavi.
Dr Hassan, however, never let his literary pursuits come in the way of the practicalities of life. He sought change,exemplifying a patriot, a reformist, and civil society campaigner.
In 1980, Professor Salam had proposed to Dr Hassan to explore the idea of establishing a centre for basic sciences in Pakistan aimed at boostingPakistan's industrialsector. The original plan was to establish a modern science centre in Pakistan that could disseminate topical sciences such astheoretical physics, digital technology, space sciences, robotics and nanotechnology, and microprocessor technology.
Dr Hassan was initially able to successfully convince Pakistan's business community to provide seed money for setting up InternationalCentre For Science, Technology and Development. But since the business community saw no short-term gains in the project, they backed out of their commitments. Indeed, the history of Pakistani business community's narrow understanding of self-interest runs deep.
Three years before that, in 1977, Dr Hassan led a national campaign through speeches and on the media that resulted in the denationalisation of cotton ginning factories in Pakistan.In January 1978, he organised the first National Seminar on Cotton held in Karachi under the auspices of the Karachi Cotton Association which was attended by hundreds of delegates from Pakistan and also by representatives of the international cotton trade.
In 1980, he was sent by the President of Pakistan to advise the Government of Swaziland on the prospects of establishing an integrated textile industry in that country, for which he prepared and presented a comprehensive report to the Government of Swaziland.
And in 1982, he organised and held a symposium on microelectronics in Karachi, which was the first symposium ever to be held in Pakistan on the subject, and was attended by
hundreds of delegates from private and public institutions all over Pakistan.
Dr Hassan was a regular columnist at Business Recorder since 1993, writing mainly on the country's cotton economy. His sharp insights in those columns benefited from his vast business experience in cotton and textile, and a variety of other various business sectors.
In his later life he was in the business of textile exports and ran a large commission house for cotton and textile. During his long career, Dr. Hassan also led Fazal Textile Mills Ltd. as its CEO. He also had directorships in Fazal Shafiq Textile Mills Ltd., H.B. Tobacco Co. Ltd., H.B. Guar Gums Ltd., and H.B Managements Ltd.
In 2006, Dr. Hassan and his family floated an investment advisory and asset management company as a non-banking finance company under the name of Alliance Investment Management Ltd, of which he was the chairman. He retired from that position in 2017.
Earlier, he had held the position of Chairman of the Karachi Cotton Association (KCA), where he proposed the institution of the KCA Annual Award in 1977, which has since been awarded every year to individuals and institutions for performing meritorious services in the field of cotton promotion in one or more aspects relating to the cotton economy of Pakistan.
He had been the vice chairman of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) of the Sindh-Baluchistan Zone. He has been a member of the Pakistan Central Cotton Committee between 1971 and 1980 representing the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association, and the Karachi Cotton Association on several occasions.
In addition, he had worked as vice chairman of the Karachi Port Trust (1978), member managing committee of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (1978), and member of the Pakistan Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (1980-81).
SJ1I assume that if he was friends with these people (as the CV mentions) then these people frequented his home as well - the home part was not in the CV.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2020