Dr. Farooq Haider passed away in Rawalpindi on October 16, 2009 after prolonged illness of two years. From God Almighty we come to God we return.
He had shifted with his family from Jammu in 1947, to settle down first to Sialkot, and then to Rawalpindi. His elder brother Aejaz Haider had attained martyrdom in 1947. His elder brother – in – law Allah Rakha Sagar was a prominent leader of Muslim Conference
Dr. Farooq Haider had obtained MBBS degree from Inter Medical College Multan and had began privet practice. In October 1969, I travelled from Peshawar to Rawalpindi in a rail car in the company of Maqbul Bhat the Martyr. We carried some big vegetable baskets with us. A family received us at Rawalpindi railway station. A curious thing of this event was that the receiving family took the vegetable baskets from us and stuffed these in their vehicle while we took a taxi and headed to the house of Dr. Farooq Haider on Peshawar Road.
I was introduced to Dr. Farooq Haider although it was he who had come to receive us at the railway station. Later on, I came to know that the huge baskets were actually filled with ammunition for NLF, which we carried all the way from Peshawar to Rawalpindi. I also introduced to Javed Sagar alias Koki, the son of Allah Rakha Sgar.
This was my first introduction to Dr. Farooq Haider. At that time I was aged 15 or 16. We halted at Dr. Farooq’s residence, which stood just opposite to his present house on Peshawar Road. Later on, I, together with Maqbul Bhat the Martyr, paid a couple of more visits to Dr. Farooq.
In 1970, I had for the first time crossed the border. I had instructions from Bhat Sahib that I should land at the house of Dr. Frooq Haider in Rawalpindi. Three days later, Bhat Sahib joined us in the house of Dr.Farooq. They took the decision of giving me arms training. One retired Subedar named Yar Muhammd was entrusted to provide training to me. During the period of training I put up in the house of Dr. Farooq Haider. I began my life there like a family member. Dr. Farooq and his family kept me like their youngster. I was very affectionately treated. Whenever they visited any family of their relatives or friends they took me with them. Dr. Farooq’s wife Madam Iffat always treated me like her son.
There I met with many leaders of Plebiscite Front and NFL like Amanullah Khan, late Mir Qaiyyum, Sardar Rashid Hasrat, G.M. Mir, Ghulam Mustafa Alavi, and Khaliq Ansari. Once we were assembled at breakfast table. Those present were Amanullah Khan, Javed Sagar, Dr. Farooq Haider, Maqbul Bhat the Martyr and I. Radio Pakistan broadcast the news of Eritrean commandos attacking Ethiopian ship. Reacting to it either Dr. Farooq Haider of Maqbul Bhat exclaimed that we too ought to undertake some such adventure so that Kashmir issue does not only come into focus on intentional level but is also exhumed from the graveyard of Tashkent. He said that the stigma inflicted by Pakistan on us the Kashmiris after Indo-Pak war of 1965 that Kashmiris had connived at getting the Pakistani mujahids arrested has to be washed off once forever.
This was the theme of the debate. It was decided that instead of launching an attack, an Indian airplane in imitation of the example of Palestinian heroin Leila Khalid. It has to be noted that till that day it was only this Palestinian heroin that had skyjacked an aircraft. Maqbul Bhat, the Martyr asked me if I would be willing to undertake that mission. I agreed without a second thought.
In this plan, Farooq Haider’s role was more prominent because his brother in relation namely Javed Manto had served in Pakistan Air Force and was now retired. I was introduced to him one day and he began to impart training to me. The course began first with paper work and long lectures. Twice or thrice he sent me along with Javed Sagar to Chaklala airport (now Military Air Force). A Fokker friendship aircraft was standing on the tarmac. In those days almost all airlines used to engage the Fokker Friendship, an aircraft manufactured by Dutch company. I was led to the cockpit of the aircraft and briefed about compass, wireless and other instruments. I was made to understand the procedure of the functionality of these instruments.
In the house of Dr.Farooq Haider I met a sincere and highly dedicated person, namely Nasir Ahmad Wani. For two months and a half, each day when Dr. Farooq Haider would leave for his clinic in the morning he would invariably ask me if I needed anything. During that period, Dr. Farooq Haider, Maqbul Bhat, Javed Sagar and I together visited Mirpur and stayed with Abdul Khaliq Ansari. Whenever we travelled to Muzaffarabad, Balakot and Faran Valley, it was Dr. Farooq Haider who drove the vehicle. Often Maqbul Bhat would ask him to sing him a song while driving; Dr. Farooq obliged. One much liked song was:
Apne liye jiye to kya jiye
Tu ji aye dil zamane ke lie.
The other song was:
Ay mere piyare wtan
Ay mere bichhrhe chaman
Tu hi meri arzu tu hi meri abru
Dr. Farooq used to sing in such a sonorous voice that even Bhat Sahib’s eyes would become wet.
The truth is that Dr. Farooq Haider spent his life in full conformity with the contents of these two songs. Although a staunch supporter of independent Kashmir, Dr. Farooq equally helped and befriended even those who were not supportive of the concept of independent Kashmir. His clinic was meant for the poor and destitute Kashmiris and he never demanded anything from anybody. Not only that, he would extend all possible help to the needy.
Dr. Farooq Haider was arrested in connection with Ganga skyjacking case along with hundreds of Plebiscite Front and NLF activists. He was brutally tortured and I reproduce below some extracts from his letters in this connection. On June 5, 1971, he wrote a letter for G.M. Mir and me from Shahi Fort were he remained interned. This letter was smuggled out from Shahi fort where I also remained imprisoned and G.M. Mir was detained in Dalai camp Muzaffarabad. This letter had come to the hands of a colleague of ours. Its extracts ran as this:
“ I have lost all hopes of survival. The Police has lashed me again and again and given me electric shocks. I lay unconscious for several weeks. Police wanted me to depose against Maqbul Sahib and Hashim Sahib. I was told that Javed Sagar had been shot dead by some unknown assailant…”
On 22 March 1972 he wrote another letter addressed to Abdul Khaliq Ansari. It was written from Kot Lakhpat jail. I give below some extracts from that long letter. He said:
“ Ansari Sahib, I have decided to name myself Indian Agent. There can be no better certificate than this allegation if we want to be faithful to this country (Pakistan). Human beings endure tyranny and oppression. I am also made of flesh and bones like anybody else. But there have been occasions for me in this prison when a man, deeply frustrated and disappointed seeks the angel of death who also fails him. Hanging by feet, lashing and giving electric shocks is the normal practice of torture in this prison. Have you heard of the cages of lions and snakes and spiders where sugar is rubbed on the legs of a man and then he is left to be eaten up by ants? The superintendent who hides under the table on haring the slightest voice of Javed Sagar becomes a Pharaoh when attended by his 20 subordinate policemen. I don’t know what have you placed in our souls so that the more the darkness deepens the brighter it shines. Once an electric shock given to me was longish one and it made me tremble with my head lurching backward. My tormentor said that Emperor Akbar had brought the wooden slippers placed on the roof from Kashmir. I told him that these bars had supported his prison house for centuries and now they propose to set them on fire. He said that Kashmiris were always agents and this was our profession. I told him that if the snow from the peaks of the mountains of my land stops to melt, your mothers’ breasts will dry up for milk. Ansari Sahib, there is a difference between others and me. My daughters had the good fortune that Bhat Sahib blessed them by putting his hand on their heads and my daughters and wife used to lay the table for Hashim Sahib. The sun of freedom had dawned from my house. Police was in possession of a letter of my sister to Hashim in which she had made a mention of arms in coded language…”
In the jail he wrote a poem titled “Jesus” (spy). It became popular. He had been addressing the military regime of General Yahya Khan. I can recollect some portion of it:
Tum piyale bharo to muhibb-e wtan
Ham apna lahu den to jasus hain
Tum Padma jalakar muhibb-e watan
Ham Ganga jalayen to jasus hain
The reference to filling the cups (piyale bharo) is to the drinking bouts of Pakistani military ruler General Yahya Khan. Padma in second verse refers to the river Padma in Bangladesh whose water was turned red by the blood of hundreds of thousands of Bengalis massacred by the Pakistani military under General Yahya.
I remember that in 1972, Dr. Farooq Haider’s wife Baji Iffat and his two daughters came to see me in Kot Lakhpat jail. Newborn Sultan, the infant was in her lap and he is today’s Dr. Sultan Haider. During my long imprisonment, the family of Dr. Farooq Haider kept visiting me in jails far away from Rawalpindi.
After my release from jail in 1980, some miscreants tried to create differences between Dr. Farooq Haider and me. In 1981, my mother came to see me in Pakistan after a long time of separation. Dr. Haider and his wife came to Peshawar to see her. It spoke for their large heartedness. The took me to Rawalpindi along with them
At that point of time Plebiscite Front had imposed ban on NLF and Maqbul Bhat was in Tihar jail. In 1982 Amanullah Khan came to Pakistan from London and talked about founding Liberation Front. A ban had been imposed on NLF. Plebiscite Front had fallen into inertia. Leaders like Advocate Manhas, Farooq Shaykh, Sayyid Nazir Gilani and I gathered at the residence of Dr.Farooq Haider. We laid the foundation of Liberation Front for Pakistan, Azad Kashmir and Occupied Kashmir. Dr. Farooq Haider was made member of central committee and the treasurer as usual. I was made the first chairman of the executive committee of the Liberation Front.
I was putting up in a rented house in the satellite town of Rawalpindi. When the matter of my marriage came up, I shifted to the house of Dr. Farooq Haider. He and his family members were full participants in my marriage ceremony. I was carried as bridegroom from his house to Peshawar. The marriage feast called walima was also hosted at the residence of Dr. Farooq Haider. Incidentally, the marriage party of Yasin Malik also departed from his house.
Dr. Farooq Haider’s relations with the people or with those going from here were not restricted to organizational sphere only. He was a patronizing father, a kind brother and a sincere friend. His wife performed the role of a kind and loving mother and sister. People called his house as Kashmir House. There is hardly a politician of Jammu and Kashmir who has not partaken food with Dr. Farooq Haider at his house. Most of the meetings of NLF and JKNLF were held at his residence. The credit of all this, first and foremost, goes to his wife Iffat Baji.
Dr. Farooq Haider’s clinic was destroyed in a powerful bomb blast in 1993-94 in which some people got killed and others wounded. Dr. Haider’s eldest son, Dr. Sultan Haider had a narrow escape. It was rumoured that this bomb blast was the handiwork of Indian agents.
Dr. Farooq Haider never coveted political power and status. He could have very easily become a member of Azad JK Assembly and a minister. He had the gift of convincing his counterpart in a serious debate. If he differed with any body it was on the basis of principles and never gave place to personal differences. On personal level, he had maintained god relations with a vast number of people. He made many financial and physical sacrifices for the freedom of Kashmir. Torture in the jail had not inflicted wounds on his body only but on his soul as well. His wife stood by him till the last moment. Whenever I imagine of Kashmir freedom movement and the house of Dr. Farooq Haider running without him, I shudder. In my last long telephonic talk with him, he reiterated his desire that all freedom fighting groups should unite under one banner. He talked to Yasin Malik also in this context. We shall be paying sincere homage to Dr. Farooq Haider only when we fulfil his wish. Only then shall his sincerity, dedication, struggle and sacrifices become immortal.
May God Almighty give him place in paradise? May God give patience and forbearance to his wife Baji Iffat, his son Dr. Sultan Haider, Shanu, Aeza and Maniza and all his friends and near ones to bear the loss (Amen)? Let me conclude this tribute with two verses which Dr. Farooq Haider had addressed to Maqbul Bhat on latter’s martyrdom:
Main jhut ke suraj se nahin laya hun kirnen
Main noor-e sadaqat ke liye khud hi jala hun
Source: Chattan 12 – 18 Oct. 2009