Air Marshal Zafar A. Chaudhry was born in 1926. After completing his education, he joined the Royal Indian Air Force. After partition, he served in the Pakistan Air Force where he was the first Chief of the Air Staff from 1972-74.
He recalls an encounter with Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in 1941.
Chaudhry was in Hyderabad Deccan that year with a few colleagues, including Mujahid Hussain, who later became well known for his cricket commentary. He says Hussain had previously boasted to other colleagues and friends that he had developed close ties with Muhammad Ali Jinnah since his short stint as his stenographer.
While reading a newspaper one day, Chaudhry realised that Mr Jinnah was in town for a legal case, and was staying nearby. He says he then persuaded Hussain to arrange a meeting with Mr Jinnah. When the two men reached the address where Mr Jinnah was staying, they found the gate closed. “The security guards would not let us in,” he recalls.
When Hussain implored the guard to at least inform Mr. Jinnah that one of his former employees was there to see him, the guard got angry and started shouting at the two men.
“The commotion must have been heard inside the house, as Mr. Jinnah soon stepped out to escort the visitors in. He had recognized Hussain,” Chaudhry says.
When Mr. Jinnah asked what business brought them to see him, Hussain pointed to Chaudhry and explained that his colleague had insisted on seeing ‘the esteemed leader’. Mr. Jinnah replied, “See me? Here I am young man! See me all you want”.
Chaudhry says that has since been the most remarkable moment of his life.
Afterwards, Mr. Jinnah asked Chaudhry about his place of study and his life goals. Being young, Chaudhry says, he got confused on how to correctly respond to the question. Mr Jinnah then said, “Whatever you decide to do, do it really well!”
Mr. Jinnah then called for his sister, Fatima Jinnah, and requested her to bring sharbat (juice) for the young guests. Chaudhry says that back then he had no idea that the woman bringing the cold drink for him and his colleague was Mr. Jinnah’s beloved sister. “It was only after we had left the house that Hussain told me about that,” he says.
Chaudhry says that he has since been taking immense pride in narrating to the people this chance encounter with Mr Jinnah and Ms Fatima Jinnah.
Published in Daily Times, July 21st, 2017.