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Business of Politics, Politics of Business

Salil Misra

By Doulat Haroon Hidayatullah
Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2005, pp. x 347, Rs. 595.00


Haji Sir Hidayatullah Haroon (1872- 1942), the subject of the book under review, was a multifaceted man. A successful industrialist, a philanthropist, devout Muslim, a supporter of separation of Sind from Bombay Presidency, and a crusader for Pakistan as an independent Muslim homeland. The biography is rich in details and contains many primary documents, not very easily available to researchers. The book is important for another reason. The works on the Pakistan movement have focused more on Punjab, Bengal and UP, the nerve centres of the movement. The Sind story in all this tends to get left out. Abdul Haroon came from that area, and while talking about his contribution to Pakistan movement the book also gives us a glimpse of the Pakistan movement in Sind. In spite of the fact that the biography is written by Abdullah Haroon’s daughter, it is remarkably devoid of any personal details. It is strictly a political biography, not a personal one.   The book is about the life and times of Abdulla Haroon. Given his commitment to the Muslim League led Pakistan movement, it also reaches out to become a story of the Pakistan movement. But it is a story, not of how that movement was, but of how the subject and the author viewed it. It is by no yardstick an objective account of the times both the subject and the author lived in. Doulat Hidayatullah was the joint Secretary of the Sind Muslim League and a founder member of the All Pakistan Women’s Association. She was actively involved in the struggle for Pakistan. The book is therefore an ‘inside view’ of the Pakistan movement and should be read as such.   Haji Sir Abdullah Haroon, an interesting man by all accounts, wore many hats. The three prefixes to his name Haji Seth Sir represent three different facets of his personality. He was a devout Muslim and lived his life by strict Islamic standards. Charity or Zakat formed a very important part of his activities. He was a philanthropist to the core. It was his concern for Muslims that motivated him to enter the world of politics. He was also a very successful businessman. This success enabled him to contribute generously to both political and social causes. He was knighted in 1937 and this represents yet another side of his politics and personality. Although Abdullah Haroon joined the Congress in 1917, it was clear that ...

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