It was an enjoyable experience listening to Dr Kamal Hossain, a former foreign minister of Bangladesh, who spoke at a recent function. The occasion was the death anniversary of Fatehyab Ali Khan, a tireless campaigner for liberty, dispensation of justice, the rule of law and the establishment of a democratic system in Pakistan. The venue was the library of the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs in Karachi — an institution whose log over the years has swelled to an embarrassment of riches in the field on book launches, talks and lectures. After the death of her husband Fatehyab, the institute has been ably run by Dr Masuma Hasan, a former ambassador and cabinet secretary who spoke about her late husband and introduced Dr Hossain to the city’s literati. Mercifully, there were no other speakers, just a clutch of men and women who subsequently asked questions. This was in refreshing contrast to the normal practice in Pakistan where an average of eight orators feel it is their bounden duty to loosen their vocal chords in public.
Not only did Dr Hossain speak extempore, he was articulate. It would not be an exaggeration to say that from the moment he made his introductory remarks the audience was absolutely riveted to what he had to say. There were none of the usual cornball clichés and gross generalisations that are spewed out by politicians with a grudge, vast resentments and huge egos. Continue reading