By Farah Ehsan
It needs lots of courage to be an outspoken and fearless non-Muslim in my increasingly intolerant beloved homeland.
Ardeshir Cowasjee – One of the few sane voices of my “Sohni Dharti”… he was far more a cosmopolitan and the representative of tolerant Karachi. He was a well-known journalist in one of the leading English newspapers in Pakistan.
Ardeshir Cowasjee, a man who blindly followed ‘Quaid’ till death, with a continuous battle against all those who swallowed the ‘gems’ of Pakistan after the ‘architect’ of Pakistan.
“Twice on contempt charges Ardeshir appeared before the Supreme Court, first before Sajjad Ali Shah and then Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui. Ardeshir in trade-mark Savile Row suit (all his suits from there), cane in hand, the initials AC cut in real diamonds on the top of the cane, would bow slightly and take his seat, relishing the spectacle for all it was worth. Khalid Anwar and Hafeez Pirzada were his counsels. Nothing came of the charges and the files must still be lying around in a forgotten corner”. Ayaz Amir- An Unusual Man.
Ardeshir Cowasjee belonged to a well-known Parsi family with a business in merchant shipping which was considered as Karachi’s largest shipping company at the time of independence.
Ardeshir Cowasjee first attended Mama Parsi School for his early education then graduated from DJ Science College Karachi, later on joined his family business.
Ardeshir Cowasjee had a charming personality, as Jugnu Mohsin presented him in her article- “with his inimitable sense of style sprang out from a deep-rooted confidence, from the same well of assurance that allowed him to speak truth to the power. Ardeshir could have strolled out of the pages og Marquez’s “Love in The Time of Cholera””.
Ardeshir Cowasjee as the chairman of “Cowasjee Foundation” had a great share in charities, he generously donated money for education, scholarships for needy students to study in the country or abroad. But it was termed as ‘loan’ because Cowasjee always encouraged the recipients to repay this loan not only in order to benefit the other needy students with this money but to keep their self-esteem alive!!
He was a genuine ‘SETH’ but unlike the other 22 Cowasjee seths, he had a great sense of fun and a hidden artist inside, could be captioned as “Elegant but unpretentious”! ‘He enjoyed all the good things in life from his art collection to his sports car, he spent wealth with style and taste’- Irfan Hussain in “A life lived in full- Ardeshir Cowasjee”.
“At the Cowasjee home meals were an elegant affair- soup, home backed bread, a main dish and dessert, served at the table in the proper manner, a ringing of the bell to summon the butler after each course.” Quoted by Ayaz Amir.
This great man died at the age of 86 on 24th Nov,2012 four years back from today- Must be restin in peace!!!
On 3 November 2013, Institute of Business Administration, Karachi launched the Ardeshir Cowasjee Centre for Writing in his honor.
“But what is sad in all this deliberate ignorance is that to the youth of Pakistan, Jinnah and all he stood for have become largely irrelevant – he is lost to the young, the majority of our exploded population. Perhaps in times to come, when, as our democratic pundits predict, a series of election will hopefully wash out the rot, a leadership will emerge that realizes the wisdom imparted by the man who made this country. It is a far cry, but not impossible. We must hope, and hope on, that the mists of time will clear and dissipate.
Until then- and I shall not be around…………”. Lost in the Mists of Time by Ardeshir Cowasjee ( This article was published on 13th Aug 2012 in Dawn daily news paper).