Who is Dr Zawwar Hussain Zaidi?

World renowned historian and academic Prof. Dr Zawwar Hussain Zaidi’s sixth death anniversary falls on March 31 (today). He spent his last days in Islamabad and Lahore. Dr Zaidi presented a copy of Jinnah Papers in Lahore on March 23, 2004 to Dina Wadia, daughter of M.A. Jinnah, founder of Pakistan, on her visit to Pakistan. Dina Wadia later wrote a letter to Dr Zaidi thanking him for the gigantic task of publishing Jinnah Papers and keeping the memory of his father alive.

Dina in one of his letters to the Editor- in- Chief, Jinnah Papers, remarked “To Zaidi, thank you for keeping my father’s memory alive, affectionately, Dina. Dr Zawwar Hussain Zaidi was born in Badayun in 1928. He was prominent figure of the Pakistan Movement.

He studied at Aligarh Muslim University and did his M.A and LLB there. He was the author of 20 books.
13 of these are in English, 6 in Urdu, and one in Persian. Later on he was appointed head of history department in FC Collage, Lahore. He also taught at the Punjab University and School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London for about 42 years. Then he worked for the UNESCO’S International Council of Archives for about 10 years.

In 1982 he came to Pakistan from London in order to compile the Muslim League Papers and the Quaid-e-Azam Papers, which were lying in the National Archives department at that time.

In 1991 he took premature retirement from SOAS and started the herculean task of editing the Jinnah Papers. The work included organizing the papers and editing 113 sacks of records, and 46 tin trunks and some 70,000 copies of Muslim League publications.
So with the help of Dr Zaidi’s single minded perseverance and tenacity, the Jinnah Papers work was completed successfully.

Dr Zaidi along with his wife Mrs Parveen Zaidi, a very kind and compassionate lady, had developed special kind of passion for digging out historical and old documents and then preserving and restoring them after taking special training for it.

In one of his books, he wrote that he broke into tears when Quaid-Azam’s daughter Dina told him: “My father would be very grateful to you”.

He worked tirelessly day and night on the compilation of Jinnah Papers at the Quaid-e-Azam Papers Project, Ministry of Culture and Tourism and completed a series of 25 to 28 volumes on the life and work of M.A. Jinnah. Dr Zaidi had with him the most committed and dedicated team workers including young as well as retired personnel from the government circle.

He was also Chairman of the Quaid-e-Azam Academy, Karachi. He was awarded Sitara-e-Imtiaz in 1994 for his valuable services to work on the life and achievements of M.A. Jinnah during 1940-1947. Dr Zaidi was aware of his failing health condition. He wanted to see the Jinnah papers formal inauguration.

It was in 1998 when he formally launched the first volume of Jinnah Papers in Islamabad. Nearly 15 volumes of Jinnah Papers have so far been launched.

During his life time he did not take rest and continued collecting material for the publication of historical papers from various libraries and departments. He even had collected documents from London Archives and British library.

His wife Mrs Parveen Zaidi talking to this scribe sadly recalled sordid incident of December 31 when he was given shock of leaving his residence in Islamabad. He being a man of pride and integrity could not take this shock on heart as he was a chronic heart patient yet fought till his last moments of life. After happening of this sad incident, he could survive only for three months and died on the 31 March, 2009 in Lahore at the age of 81.

His demise was a great loss of a selfless personality. “Though the work he had done shall remain easy reference for generations to come and one day when Pakistan will relive the legacy of Mr Jinnah as a progressive and modern republic, we shall honour Dr Zaidi and many like him for the great work they undertook. His work will continue to be a source of enlightenment for many”, he Dr Faseih Iqbal.

Dr  Zaidi  was a man of great courage and patriotism. Once he himself recalled Emperor Babur’s words as his motto “All is lost yet everything is not lost the indomitable courage… indeed for us all was lost except the indomitable courage and our faith in God which has kept us going”.

The great historian Stanley Wolpert acknowledged him as “greatest authority” on M.A. Jinnah and the subject of history.

Last but not the least let us pledge together as a nation to continue in all of us the true spirit and dedication like Dr Zawwar Hussain Ziadi and make our country more stronger without keeping in mind any difference of cast, creed, or gender and contribute our best efforts and capabilities to make it a role model state where rule of law, tolerance and brotherhood would prevail.

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