A great educationist and an economist, Professor Manzoor Mirza who hailed from the well-known and historical town of Bhimber (Azad Jammu and Kashmir State), now settled in Lahore, has died at the age of 85. He belonged to the Mughal race whose members of the ruling class in Delhi were post-1857 abortive freedom attempt from the British rule in India, haunted, persecuted and executed indiscriminately.
After his matriculation from Bhimber High School, Manzoor Mirza graduated with Honours in English Literature from the missionary Murray College, Sialkot, and finally did Masters in Economics from the Punjab University in 1952 and started his career as a lecturer. He augmented his professional career not only by excelling as subject specialist in economics but also by showing his inbuilt traits of a good administrator. The Professor Mirza had made himself well-known for his honest, righteous, impeccable and upright character-traits because of which the Education Department of the Punjab unfailingly appointed him as principal of the newly chartered colleges or those upgraded to the degree level with heavy budgets at his disposal that he dispensed most judiciously. He was the founding Principal of Government College for Boys Phalia and Bhochal Kalan. On account of his administrative abilities and honest reputation, the Government of Punjab appointed him as Director, Colleges, Multan Division (1984 to 1987) and finally he served as Additional Secretary, Education, Punjab (1988 till his retirement in August, 1990). Government of Pakistan on account of his illustrious professional background sent him on deputation to the Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda as Associate Professor of Economic where he served the said University from 1978 to 1980. On the conclusion of his deputation period with Makerere University, he was offered permanent absorption as Professor of Economics with the said University. However, he turned down the lucrative offer and preferred to come back Pakistan out of his passion and love to serve his own country. He also represented Pakistan in a SAARC Conference on Education and Literacy held in India in 1989. He also remained at the penal of Punjab Civil Services Academy and NIPA (National Institute of Public Administration) as a guest speaker to enlighten the new entrants into civil services and in-service officers on different topics of socioeconomic, education and administrative issues confronting Pakistan.
The deceased would be remembered as a prolific writer and author. Besides, his brilliant teaching experience spanning over decades, he wielded his pen to writing, all in English, several text-books of all depths and levels especially his book on Development Economics for the post-graduate students which he wrote early in 1980s when he came back to Pakistan after serving Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda. He had special aptitude for literature as he did graduation with Honours in English Literature. He wielded a stupendous command in English language both in writing and speaking. He wrote regularly and copiously leading articles over the years for English dailies. He remained at the penal of the Daily “The Nation” as a regular Columnist for more than a decade. Besides, he also made contributions to the newspapers namely “Pakistan Times” and “The Frontier Post”.
He wrote at length articles on socioeconomic, political and educational problems that Pakistan has been beset with. Besides, he being in the capacity of an economist, also commented at length and reviewed for public consumption annual budgets of both the Provincial and Federal Governments of Pakistan. He also reviewed and commented on Five-Year Plans that Government of Pakistan has been coming up with as a long-term development strategy for Pakistan. He wrote extensively on education viz a viz literacy rate of Pakistan, budgetary allocation for education sector in Pakistan, improving skill levels of teachers and administrative and managerial problems of Education Department of the Punjab. He wrote daringly and made his views on education department objectively and honestly even when he was in service.
Professor Mirza discontinued his contribution as columnist with “The Nation” in year 2001 after the induction of one of his sons namely Rizwan Manzoor in Police Service of Pakistan through competitive examination at federal level. However, during his spell of more than two and a half decades of retirement, Professor Manzoor Mirza took to writing, this time more vigorously than ever before. He authored his monumental collection of Essays comprising some 1200 pages and books on Paragraph Writing for guidance of candidates aspiring to appear in the competitive examinations both at federal and provincial levels. Response to his books by their end consumers was overwhelming as his books helped in bridging the gap that existed for the young candidates of competitive examinations at federal and provincial levels. His books on Essay and Paragraph Writing became an invaluable, precious and instrumental source for aspirant candidates for seeking an insight and in-depth knowledge about myriads of topics. By means of his books, besides, students were exposed to the excellent blend of written expression with which they could improve upon their written expression of English language. Keeping in view the stupendous demand of his books, Professor Manzoor Mirza kept revising and launching new editions of his books so that his students could keep on getting guidance in English language viz a viz Essay and Paragraph Writing.
By reading his books, many serious candidates for competitive examinations started coming to the Professor directly for seeking guidance in English Language. Professor Manzoor Mirza with the passage of time became known as a very professional mentor of English Language. Students from all the provinces started coming to the professor for seeking enlightened, professional and effective coaching in English language. Now hundreds of students of the professor have qualified for civil services both at federal and provincial levels and serving the country in different departments.
Professor’s satiety for reading and writing never touched culmination and he remained imbued in spreading the knowledge that he carried with him. At the age of 85, his spirits for doing work, read and write were as fresh as an ever flowing stream of pristine water. He lived a very practical, purposeful and benevolent life like a befitting Muslim. His maintained an egalitarian and broad-minded approach towards life while keeping his actions within the ambit of teaching of Islam.
The Professor led an austere and simple life, sponsored a number of charities, most importantly the ones engaged in alleviation of eye ailments. He was affiliated to Hadrat Abu Anees Muhammad Barkat ‘Ali, Founder of the Rectory, Dar-ul-Ehsan, Faisalabad, and often reviewed the Sheikh’s publications.
The Professor has passed away, leaving the void well-nigh impossible for the Pakistan academia to fill. He has been an eloquent orator, an author par excellence and above all a renowned educationist. He has been one of the unsung heroes and pioneer in many fields of human activities whom the Government of Pakistan could not afford and accord a due recognition, the recognitions that are otherwise thrown at wantonly.
Professor Manzoor Mirza will ever be remembered as a kind, generous and loving father and grandfather. His friends and colleagues would miss his sweet recitation of HAMD and NAAT that he amused them with. We pray for the good of his soul and patience for the bereaved family. May his soul ever abide by the Divine nearness in the Hereafter! Amin!
Written by: Dr Muhammad Iqbal (Senior Lecturer (Retired)
Huddersfield University United Kingdom
The writer is the eldest son-in-law of (late) Professor Manzoor Hussain Mirza.