Mowahid’s ‘Will & Skill’ Launched in Washington
By C. Naseer Ahmed
The will of a diverse audience – from academics, diplomats, journalists, physicians and professionals from all walks of life – to gather at one of the most popular Pakistani restaurants - the “Ravi Kabob” - brought them together to appreciate the skill of a writer known as Mowahid Shah. The gathering marked the launch of the book “Will & Skill” – a collection of newspaper articles from a wide variety of publications spanning several decades on a broad range of subjects. (Mowahid has been a columnist for Pakistan Link for more than 13 years).
The articles in the book reveal much about the author, who has nothing to hide and neither is shy. This was a point made by a number of friends and admirers of the author. Ali Abbasi, an old friend of Mowahid Shah, spoke about how much they disagreed for a very long time but the common thing was their friendship. “I was a supporter of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and he was always critical of him”, said Ali Abbasi. But, when Bhutto was hanged, Mowahid Shah initiated the effort to say funeral prayers”. A stunned Ali Abbasi remembered asking him why he initiated the effort to offer funeral prayers for a man he always criticized. “Because, justice was not done, was his reply”, Ali Abbasi told the audience why his friendship has endured for decades.
In a similar fashion, Dr. Amarjit Singh shared with the audience how his friendship developed after reading an article in the Eastern Times – a newspaper edited by Mowahid Shah. “Whenever I needed some advice, he was there,” recalled Dr. Pervez Shah, a past president of the Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America (APPNA) and Director, Pakistani American Public Affairs Committee (PAKPAC).
Ms. Ambrin Hayat coordinated the book event hosted by Chaudhry Javed Elahi and Ravi Kabob owner Haji Afzal. The other speakers included: Javed Elahi, Aman Khan, C. Naseer Ahmad, Don Zarin, Don Smith, Janet Barsy, Nadeem Sabir, Craig Winslow and A. Sheikh. A beautiful recitation of the Holy Qur’an was performed by Asad Kamal. His rendition of a ‘naat’ – gospel song – brought some to tears even though they did not understand the lyrics. It was a point noted by Don Zarin while putting his hand on his heart.
The “Missing: Quest for Excellence” is a notable chapter reminding the readers that “the commitment to excel was at the heart of Muslim achievement of yore. An inspired desert society broke away from shackles of ignorance, superstition, tribalism, licentiousness, and female infanticide, and reached out and left a lasting global imprint.” So what happened? Read more is the answer to many questions that brought up in the book.
“He is passionately dispassionate”, Dr. Ayub Ommaya once described the author at a George Washington University Seminar. There is the “Qazi Trip” - a chapter devoted to Qazi Hussain Ahmad, former leader of Jamat-e-Islami. And, there is the recognition that in 1948, Pakistan’s first – and now forgotten – Foreign Minister Sir Zafrulla Khan was “the acknowledged spokesperson for the Arab cause in the United Nations”. Dr Ommaya , of course, is mentioned in the book as are many other interesting personalities such as boxing champion Muhammad Ali.
As Ali Abbasi said at the outset of the event, the reader may not always agree with the author but will come to appreciate his forthright manner of discussing social issues. For instance, in “Punishing the Punctual” the reader will find that “for a nation and people to progress, an indispensable feature is respect for time”. Or for that matter, “Muslim strength is not reflective of its size is that much of the energy of the upper-crust is squandered on chasing VIPs”.
This book event can perhaps be summed up in a few words: “Yaran naal bharan” – with friends, it’s spring forever - borrowed from another author Mian Muhammad Bakhsh whose epic collection of poems “Saif – ul – Muluk” inspired many generations.