The Makh-Dooms of Pakistan
12 May, 2008
By Anwaar Hussain
According to a little heard news, the current Prime Minister of Pakistan, Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani has reportedly decided to drop the family prefix of Makhdoom from his name saying he wants to serve people and not be served by them. Gillani said the honorific “Makhdoom”, which means “one who is served” is no longer appropriate as he believes in serving the people.
Though the apparent unconditional sincerity in the Prime Minister’s resolve to ‘serve’ the Pakistani people is heart warming, yet a leopard can not change his spots. The scribe begs to explain the Makh-Doom phenomenon to the gullible Pakistani masses first. By the end of this piece, the readers would know why the scribe spells Makhdoom as Makh-Doom.
A little review of history is in order first.
Jallianwala Bagh is a garden in the northern Indian city of Amritsar. On April 13, 1919, British Indian Army soldiers under the command of Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer opened fire on an unarmed gathering of men, women and children. The firing lasted for about 10 minutes. Shots were fired at the rate of 33 rounds per soldier. Official British Raj sources placed the fatalities at 379. According to private sources, however, there were over 1000 deaths, with more than 2000 wounded. Civil Surgeon Dr. Smith indicated that there were over 1800 casualties.
Back in his headquarters, Dyer reported to his superiors that he had been “confronted by a revolutionary army,” and had been obliged “to teach a moral lesson to the Punjab.” In a telegram sent to Dyer, the then British Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab, the author of the said massacre, Sir Michael O’Dwyer wrote: “Your action is correct. Lieutenant Governor approves.”
Nigel Collett, the writer of a new biography of Reginald Dyer, The Butcher of Amritsar said of Dyer: “As an Englishman, I cannot help but feel sorrow and shame at what he did…The massacre was the worst atrocity by a British officer ever recorded”.
Such was the sentiment of a British author about the gory crime carried out by the British soldiers. Given below is an old document to refresh the memories of the readers regarding the sentiments of the sons of the soil of Punjab, the Makh-Dooms. Taken from an Urdu column written by one Khalid Masood Khan, the referred document belongs to the beginning of the previous century.
The translation of this flowery text from Urdu language, marked by elaborate rhetoric and decorative details as it is, was a difficult task. The omissions and commissions, therefore, can safely be attributed to the scribe. More or less, though, this is how the text of the supplication goes;
A Prayer to His Highness Sir Michael Francis O’Dwyer CIE KCSI,
Lieutenant Governor Bahadur Punjab,
We the servants of the saints and clerics, along with the appropriate elites of our society of West Punjab, present to your esteemed self this humble entreaty. We are sure that your Highness, whose nature is replete with fairness and blessings for the common, will hear us out giving us cause to be proud of our lowly selves.
Before any thing else, we congratulate your Honor that the terrible World War that began in your tenure has reached its logical end in your term of office. This majestic kingdom [of the British Empire] upon which the sun never used to set even before, has now come out ever stronger and illuminant. It has won the war in as befitting a manner as the blessed tongue of our Emperor had promised it will. There is no doubt any more that the British sword went back into its scabbard only after truth became dominant and international freedom along with peace and welfare of smaller nations was ensured.
Your Highness’s era was a delicate one. Punjab was lucky to have for a ruler a strong man of your integrity and wisdom in those tumultuous times. Under your hallowed leadership, not only was peace maintained inside Punjab, but it also benefited in more sublime ways. Under your gifted guidance, Punjab proved its loyalty to the empire [by providing soldiers to the British Imperial Army] and was awarded the proud title of ‘The Sword of the Kingdom’. Lady O’Dwyer, your life long companion and a symbol of womanhood, helped us untiringly in the matters of Red Cross and Indian women’s education earning our undying appreciation in the process. Please convey our heartfelt gratitude to Lady O’Dwyer.
When we see the miracles of telegraph, the building of colleges and universities for Indians, we in fact see the incomparable British justice at work in a Raj where the lion and the lamb drink from the same pond. We see nothing but benevolence all around us.
We know that the recent Martial Law was the result of some mischief mongers from among us. We in fact want to thank your Majesty that despite the Martial Law, Muslim sensitivities were duly addressed and our religious festivals were catered for. We are also aware that the Shahi Mosque [Lahore’s central mosque] was being used for illegal political activities [by the freedom activists] and your Highness had to put a stop to that. We are forever grateful for that.
For us, the British Raj has proved to be a much awaited rain on a parched land. We are only being truthful when we say that even if we were to have endless lives, we would not be able to repay even a fraction of its favors and generosity. That is why, sir, we beseech you that when you go back to your country, please assure that great king of the British Empire that we his subjects, upon whom he has showered his untold blessings, will remain loyal to him until our deaths.
We are saddened that the inexperienced and young King of Afghanistan, Amir Amanullah Khan, has reneged on his treaties with the British Empire. This is in direct violation of the Quranic injunction “Fulfill your promises for you will be questioned about these in the hereafter”. It was indeed the British who strengthened the reign of Amir Amanullah Khan’ family over Afghanistan. He is being entirely ungrateful. We the people of Punjab cannot forget the massacre and plunder of our lands by the Afghan hordes. We assure your Lordship that we look upon the Afghan King’s misdeeds with unreserved hatred.
We also wholeheartedly condemn those among us due to whose conspiracies Punjab was plunged into recent chaos and earned a black mark on its hitherto unblemished reputation. Your Excellency’s overpowering of these miscreants was only in the fitness of things. We assure your Highness that we loath them as much as their mad transgressions. Our Quran not only teaches us, “Don’t create mischief on earth” but also that, “Allah loves not the miscreants”.
Your Excellency, though your departure sunders our hearts, we take solace from the fact that your successor is none other than Sir Edward McLean. Every soul in Punjab knows of his qualities of head and heart. He will, we are sure, be a suitable heir to your venerated office. We welcome him from the cores of our hearts and assure him that just like the past; we will continue to prove our undying loyalty to the Raj.
(A long list of Makhdooms and Pirs of the West Punjab)
Now if you are still not sickened enough at this brazen display of unashamed toadying of the Makh-Dooms to the author of Jallianwala Massacre, here is a current list of just some of these gentlemen sprinkled evenly across the two main political parties of Pakistan, thereby ensuring the continuous presence of a Makh-Doom in the ruling party.
# Makhdoom Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani, the current Prime Minister of Pakistan, the great grand son of one of the lead signatories. (Yousuf’s father was Speaker of Pakistan’s National Assembly)
# Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, President of PPP (Pakistan Peoples’ Party) Punjab and the current Foreign Minister of Pakistan, another great grand son of one of the lead signatories. (Mehmood’s father was once the Governor of Punjab)
# Makhdoom Syed Bashir Ahmed Shah Political leader affiliated with PPP, and former Food, Agriculture and Forests Minister of Pakistan during the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto regime.
# Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat, Pakistani politician affiliated with PML-Q, and former Interior Minister of Pakistan.
# Makhdoom Shahabuddin, Pakistani politician affiliated with PPP, and former Finance Minister of Pakistan.
# Makhdoom Muhammad Javed Hashmi, Pakistani politician, and central leader of PML-N, a former Federal Minister for Health. (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Group)
# Makhdoom Syed Akhtar Husain Shah, Pakistani Politician in affiliation with PPP, former Member Provincial Assembly Sindh.
# Makhdoom Muhammad Amin Fahim, Pakistani politician, and central leader of PPP (sweated hard to become the Prime Minister of Pakistan).
# Makhdoom Syed Ahmad Mehmood, Pakistani politician.
And here is a brief discussion on genetics from Wikipedia;
“Genetics is the study of how living things receive common traits from previous generations. Genes are passed on from parent to child and are an important part of not only how the child will look and behave, but will also determine what traits a whole family (such as the grandfather, great grandfather, etc.), will have.”
The result; lurching from crisis to crisis, gripping for dear life to sporadic achievements here and there, Pakistan stumbles on among the fraternity of nations.
To be honest, the Makh-Dooms are not alone in this sad saga. There are other charlatans galore. Of them, some other day.
Now reach for your sick bags.
End Note: On 13 March 1940, almost 21 years after the Jallianwala Bagh killings, a joint meeting of the East India Association and the Royal Central Asian Society was scheduled at Caxton Hall, London. Among the speakers was Michael O’Dwyer, the one time Lieutenant Governor of Punjab.
Also at the meeting was one Udham Singh, a freedom fighter who too was injured in the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. At the end of the meeting Singh calmly got up and shot O’Dwyer twice, killing him on the spot.
During his trial, when the court asked about his name, he replied “Ram Mohammad Singh Azad”, taking three names from the three main religions of India, demonstrating the transcendence of his beliefs regarding race, caste, creed, and religion. On 31 July 1940, Ram Mohammed Singh Azad was hanged at Pentonville Prison.
He was buried later that afternoon within the prison grounds.
The Makh-Dooms live on.