Meray Mohsin

Doing favours and having favours — done for you

After Ch Pervaiz Elahi’s statement that ” General Qamar Javed Bajwa is our mohsin (benefactor)”, 1I was reminded of my meeting with a fellow who called himself ‘Just Mohsin’. The year was 1979, I was visiting Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He was studying there, and instead of introducing himself as Muhammad Mohsin he was more comfortable with ‘Just Mohsin’.

Perhaps the name carries a special significance. In the land of the pure. There is a long history of mohsins. It was the first usurper who in the 1960s discovered a dismissed Police constable from Gujrat to be his front man in Lahore. He was the Mohsin of Ch Zahoor Elahi, the founder of the ‘Chaudhry Dynasty’. Since then there has been no looking back for the Chaudhrys. The ‘umbilical cord’ with GHQ has remained intact.

It was the third usurper who decided to take-on Bhutto’s party in Lahore and Karachi for which new players were introduced. While Nawaz Sharif was launched in Lahore, Altaf Hussain and his MQM (Mohajir Qaumi Movement) emerged as a terror political outfit in Karachi. General Zia-ul-Haq was their Mohsin. The fourth dictator who had toppled the Nawaz Government, decided to corner both Benazir and Nawaz but the Chaudhrys remained loyal to the Mohsin. Initially Mian Azhar led the new brand of Muslim League (PML-Q) but was pushed out of the arena. He then remained in the wilderness, joined Imran Khan’s PTI, and his son Hammad Azhar is now a prominent leader of Imran’s party.

During his trial in the Military Tribunal, Hussain Shaheed Suharwardy used the term “My learned friend” but then corrected himself by saying “You are neither learned nor my friend”. In the fertile land of five rivers certain words carry no meaning. In the historic Anarkali Bazar, Sheikh Inayatullah and Sons, a general merchant’s shop, existed before partition. It remained in business till the 1990s.

Madare Millat did not survive long after this episode. She died in 1967, Ayub Khan was toppled in 1969, Jinnah’s Pakistan was dismembered in 1971 but the Mohsins continued together with their Ehsanmands.

Rehmatullah succeeded his father and ran the business very efficiently. He introduced the ‘hearing aid’ technology in the city which he personally supervised. As the technology was new, it had teething problems. He himself dealt with all complaints. To soften the anger of the complainants, he extensively used the term Meray Mohsin (my benefactor) but really did not mean it. His words were magical. After his death the shop was shut down, a plaza has been built in its place. The sound of Meray Mohsin of Anarkali is now history.

In politics there is no place for Mohsins, it’s either interests or ideology. In the checkered political history of Pakistan only two real political parties came to the fore (PPP in 1967, PTI in 1996), the rest were created by the Mohsins. Somehow the platform of Muslim League has been used from which various brands were introduced, PML-Funactional, PML-Nawaz, PML-Quaid, PML-Council, PML-Comvention, PML-Zia, PML-Awami, PML-Musharraf to name a few. In the 1970s and 1980s, Mohsins were focussed on getting rid of Bhutto’s People’s Party which sought social equality and supremacy of the constitution.

After the judicial murder of Bhutto in April 1979, his daughter led the party with courage and conviction. Finally she was silenced on 27 December 2007 at the same venue where the first Prime Minister fell. With her departure the party fell into the lap of her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, who is currently the mastermind of the PDM movement that has been tasked to contain Imran Khan’s party which currently challenges the status-quo after the neutering of the Bhutto’s party.

Over the years, Mohsins have emerged as the main defenders of the colonial era status-quo together with their brothers in the bureaucracy and judiciary.

The dreaded establishment continues to survive through the age old policy of divide and rule. Finally in 2022, voices are being raised across the board for common resistance against the exploiters but there is lack of confidence on both sides.

Civilian Supremacy is the only way forward to finally make rest in peace the Mohsins who continue to call the shots. The conduct of the outgoing Sipah-e-Salar is being currently debated. Even after his departure his Mohsin hood seems to matter,for those who have dared to come in the way have been punished.

Till the 1970s, the conspiracy behind the murder of the first PM was being debated, and since then two more have been added to the list (Bhutto, Benazir) with the fourth one recovering from his attempted assassination. After failing to get an FIR registered, the former PM continues to fight for a fresh mandate through free and fair elections. The Mohsins seem to be uninterested in his chants for the Ehsanmands (beneficiaries) come in the way.

There is a famous Urdu verse, Ehsan jo muj pay na kartay to ehsan hota ” (If you hadn’t done me a favour, it would have been a favour). When Fatima Jinnah refused to acccpt the dictator as a Mohsin she was declared a traitor. It did not stop here. I remember the huge banners on the historic Town Hall in Lahore posted every year on 27 October with Ayub Khan’s photograph under the caption of saviour and Allama Iqbal as co-saviour with no mention of Jinnah the founder as his sister had dared to oppose the Mohsin. It was taken as a challenge against Manhood and Mohsin-Hood which was unacceptable.

Madare Millat did not survive long after this episode. She died in 1967, Ayub Khan was toppled in 1969, Jinnah’s Pakistan was dismembered in 1971 but the Mohsins continued together with their Ehsanmands.

Dr Farid A Malik
Dr Farid A Malik
The writer is ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation. He can be contacted at: [email protected].

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