Guest Post by Pervaiz Munir Alvi
Poured in goblet wine gains its luster many fold
But for beautiful faces mirror is just a piece of glass
This is part III in what is going to be a 4-part series on famous Pakistani compere (Late) Dildar Pervaiz Bhatti. In part-I, I gave a brief memoir to Dildar as a friend. In part-II, I wrote about him and I growing up together. Today I’ll write about some of the debating contests in which Dildar and I took part.
Talent unless polished and nurtured with dedication may never gain its full luster. Dildar had both the talent and the dedication in him. By the time we graduated Secondary School (Matric) we had gained enough confidence and skills to continue in the field of public speaking. In eleventh and twelfth grades (F.A./F.Sc.) Dildar and I as a team took part in numerous debating and declaration contests. One of us will speak for and the other against the house resolution. For the in-school debates two of us will fill the slots of Leader of the house, Leader of the opposition. We will travel to various cities of Punjab, Kashmir and Frontier to take part in college debates. Some times our team will win and other times we will get bombed. But that was beside the point. We got chances to meet people and see places that our class mates may not have. It was fun.
One time Dildar and I were selected to represent our school in declaration contest held at the Pakistan Air Force Academy at Risalpur. For us it was a memorable trip that we talked about for many years to come. First time in our young lives we were directly exposed to the high standards of living and training that rest of us could only dream of. A large group of boys and girls from various cities were gathered at the Lahore Air Base to be flown to Rasalpur. It was a large military transportation plane perhaps a precursor of C-130. Strapped on bench seats we ate though the pre-prepared meal boxes. The noisy flight gave Dildar ear ache that stayed with him for rest of the trip.
Once at the academy each one of us was assigned to our host cadet. The girls were guests of the officers and their wives as female-cadets were not admitted in the academy at that time. I was roomed with a Bengali boy named Siraj. Tours were given of various parts of the campus. The instruction rooms, hangers and mess halls were in immaculate conditions at all the time. Our hosts would show off their training achievements and at the meal times would accompany us to the dinning hall. The declaration contest was in English. My speech topic was wonder lust but I do not remember what Dildar spoke about. I do remember though he telling the audience that the noisy plane ride has robbed him of his hearings and he is not able to listen to any negative comments and hooting that might be hurled his way. Dildar got the laughs he was hoping for but nothing else. We returned home without any prize in any category. Almost all the prizes went to the students from English medium schools.
This time the venue was Bokhari Auditorium of Government College (GC) Lahore. Now GC is a premium and historic institute in Pakistan that has produced literary giants such as Allama Iqbal, Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Sufi Ghulam Mustafa Tabassam. Student debates at GC are legendry and known to tackle serious and significant issues of the day. When Dildar got on stage, either accidentally or intentionally the microphone was turned off by some one. Unable to hear the speaker the crowd got nasty and hostile. Any other person would have got nervous or at least complained about the situation. But not Dildar. He started delivering his speech in highly dramatic style like Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto or Fidel Castro would. The crowd loved his antics and he left the dais amid thundering applause.
The next event took place at the Islamia Collage (Cooper Road), Lahore. This is the same auditorium where the historic Lahore Resolution was passed in March 1940. A female-speaker dressed in rather tight out fit had just left the stage. The speaker following her remarked her as the coca-cola bottle. Immediately objections were raised and accepted by the chair. The offender refused to take his words back on which the entire female contingent along with some male-speakers staged a walk-out and proceedings were stopped. Finally forced by the audience the offender re-treated his words, the ladies came back to the hall and debate went on its way. Those were the days when AK-47s had not entered the campuses yet and disputes were resolved without resorting to violence.
Dildar actually had a very pleasant and non-confrontational personality and working and traveling with him was a shear joy. Even though he was non-political his popularity and debating skills made him a natural candidate for the Student Union Elections. He was a gentleman and would debate his election opponents with skill and civility. The overall student body originated from two very different social back grounds. As a result student union elections ended up as contests between city boys on one side and choudary boys on the other. Dildar ran for the offices of president and secretary but lost both time.
Dildar and I because of our public speaking activities had gained considerable exposure. We both got attention of one Mr. Zaigum Al-Bhakri. He was a journalist-writer of some repute and editor of a local news paper. He was also a member of Kisan-Mazdoor Party and a disciple of Khaddar-Posh Masood, a well known socialist leader of his time and just like Masood Sahab he always dressed in simple cotton outfits. Mr. Al-Bhakri gave us invitation to his office. In a four story building his office was on the second floor; top two floors were for the proof readers and printers. It was busy place with local politicians, writers and activists stopping by with some regularity. Every one was greeted and served with non stop supply of cups of over cooked sugary tea that apparently came from the next door hotel. After few meetings it became clear that Mr. Al-Bhakri was also a recruiter for the progressive writers’ movement with assigned task to bring in new blood. I hung around his office a bit longer than Dildar did, but neither one of us joined the movement.
Last Part of this series on Dildar Pervaiz Bhatti can be read Here.