We found an interesting and informative article on the life and times of Mirza Muzzafar Ahmad aka MM Ahmad. This article was written by Shahid Javed Burki, who was a colleague of Mirza Muzzafar Ahmad for many years. It was published in the Dawn, which is a popular Pakistan related newspaper.
MIRZA Muzaffar Ahmad — known mostly as MM to his friends and admirers — died in a hospital in suburban Washington on July 22. He had been unwell for several months not because of any disease. He was just weighed down by age and by his concern for Pakistan, a country he dearly loved and to the service of which he devoted his entire and extremely productive life.
MM was born on February 28, 1913, in Qadian, India. He was educated first at Government College, Lahore, and later in Britain’s London and Oxford Universities. He joined the Indian Civil Service — the ICS — in 1939. The 1939 “batch” was the last one to be recruited by the British to the premier administrative service. By recruiting Indians to the ICS, the British aimed to “Indianize” the administrative structure that was regarded as the “steel frame” in their rule of India. This process of “Indianization” was disrupted by the Second World War. When it resumed after the war was over it took a different form since the ICS was opened to the personnel of other services.
The ICS was dissolved in 1947 when the British left India. Its members were invited to opt for service in one of the two successor states — to serve either in India, a predominantly Hindu country, or to go to Pakistan, a country carved out specifically for the Muslim citizens of British India. Eighty one ICS officers, including MM Ahmad, opted for service in Pakistan. Those who chose to come to Pakistan formed the core of a new central service initially called the Pakistan Administrative Service. Later, the PAS was rechristened as the Civil Service of Pakistan, the CSP.
Most of this contingent of highly able and trained civil servants who opted for service in Pakistan were to play important roles in establishing the state of Pakistan. Most of them went to Karachi, the country’s first capital. MM chose instead to go to Lahore, the capital of the part of Punjab that was attached to Pakistan. Among the positions MM held in Lahore was that of secretary of finance. Later, he went to Islamabad, Pakistan’s second capital, where he served in a number of senior positions, including secretary of commerce, secretary of finance, and deputy chairman of the Planning Commission. When General Yahya Khan deposed President Ayub Khan and placed Pakistan under martial law, MM was appointed adviser to the new president and given the rank of a federal minister.
MM served in that capacity until the outbreak of the civil war between East and West Pakistan. He went to Washington soon after that fateful event and joined the World Bank’s board as executive director responsible for Pakistan and a number of other Muslim countries. Pakistan lost its seat on the Bank’s board when Bangladesh became independent and decided to join the constituency led by India. MM stayed on in Washington and was elected deputy executive secretary of the joint ministerial committee of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, better known as the Development Committee. He retired from that position in 1984.
I got to know MM Ahmad well over the years. Although I was 21 years his junior in the CSP, I had the opportunity to work with him on several occasions. The first time I came in close contact with him was in 1969 when the martial law government of General Yahya Khan decided to undo the “One Unit” of West Pakistan. This was a momentous decision, the full import of which was not recognized by the military government.
The creation of the “One Unit” of West Pakistan was a part of the delicate balance between political forces that dominated Pakistan after the country achieved independence. The task of constitution-making had been made difficult by the leaders of West Pakistan — especially those who belonged to Punjab — who were not prepared to accept any arrangement on the division of powers between the federal and provincial governments that would make East Pakistan the dominant force in the country’s political structure. That would have happened had the provinces of Pakistan been allowed representation in the national legislature on the basis of population. In that case East Pakistan, with more people than all the provinces and states of West Pakistan combined, would have gained the majority of seats in the national parliament.
This situation was not acceptable to Punjab. A compromise was reached on the basis of what came to be called the “parity formula” according to which the country was to have two federating units, East Pakistan and West Pakistan. Each unit was to have equal representation in the national legislature. This led to the creation of the One Unit of West Pakistan in 1956. In 1958, Pakistan promulgated its first constitution.
The parity formula survived the demise of the constitution of 1956 and the establishment of a new political structure under the constitution of 1962. However, the highly centralized political structure under the military government created a number of problems. President Ayub Khan totally dominated the federal government and Governors Amir Muhammad Khan of Kalabagh and Abdul Monem Khan ruled West and East Pakistan respectively with an equal amount of authority. Concentration of so much power in three pairs of hands did not sit well with the people. In East Pakistan resentment built up against Islamabad’s domination and the smaller provinces of West Pakistan were alienated by the highly authoritarian rule of Nawab of Kalabgh. On coming to power, Yahya Khan responded to these concerns by scrapping the “parity” arrangement between East and West Pakistan and by dissolving the West Pakistan One Unit.
The difficult task of dismantling the One Unit was entrusted to a committee of officials headed by MM Ahmad. MM represented Punjab while Ghulam Ishaq Khan represented the Frontier Province, A.G.N. Kazi, Sindh and Yusuf Achkzai Balochitsn. The committee’s secretariat had four officials: Zahur Azhar, Dr. Humayun Khan, Dr. Tariq Siddiqui and myself. The committee’s task was a complex one. It had not only to dismantle the One Unit arrangement but also to create four new provinces by merging the old princely states with the directly administered areas.
MM Ahmad was equal to the task. For several weeks with patience, dignity and intelligence — three distinguishing traits of his personality — he guided the ‘One Unit dissolution committee’, towards resolving all outstanding issues in time set by the Yahya government. The committee’s plan went into effect on July 1, 1970, when West Pakistan “One Unit” was dissolved and all power was transferred to the provinces of Balochistan, the North-west Frontier Province, Punjab and Sindh.
My second close association with MM occurred during the same period when he was entrusted with the delicate task of getting the governments of East and West Pakistan to accept the macroeconomic framework developed by the Planning Commission for the Fourth Five-Year Plan. The plan was to run for the period between 1970 and 1975. By the time the Planning Commission revealed its approach, the citizens of East Pakistan had been convinced that the remarkable economic performance of the western wing of the country was sustained by the resources garnered from their province. They wanted this bias to be corrected during the five years of the Fourth Plan.
Two panels of economists were set up, one chaired by Dr Pervez Hasan, West Pakistan’s Chief Economist, and the other by Professor Nurul Islam, a Bengali economist, to resolve the differences between the two provinces. Not surprisingly, the two panels arrived at different conclusions. Hasan’s panel did not reject the view that public sector expenditure had played a role in the rapid economic growth of the western province. However, it also emphasized the decisive part played by the private sector. The Bengali economists argued that much of West Pakistan’s better performance was the result of large public sector investments which had been financed by external capital flows which the central government had largely directed towards that province.
Once again, MM Ahmad stepped into the breach to resolve the dispute between the two groups of experts and the two provinces they represented. As the economic adviser to Governor Nur Khan of West Pakistan, I attended several meetings chaired by MM to develop a consensus between the two provinces of the country. He laboured hard to arrive at an agreement but did not succeed as the political temperature was constantly rising. In the fall of 1970, East Pakistan’s coastal areas were hit by a devastating cyclone that left a million people dead. The tardy response of the central government to this great human tragedy further soured relations between the two provinces. The rest, as they say, is history.
My closest association with MM occurred when, in 1981, I was made responsible for representing the World Bank on the secretariat of the Development Committee. MM at that point was the deputy executive secretary of the committee. The committee, straddling between the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, was charged by its members to improve understanding on a number of important issues between the governments of the developed and developing parts of the world. The beginning of the decade of the eighties saw many developing countries faced with difficult times. Much of Latin America was ravaged by the problem of debt incurred to sustain imports while the price of oil increased four-fold. World trade, recognized as an important source of growth for the developing world, was doing little for the commodity exporters of the developing world.
Official development assistance, once promised to increase steadily and significantly, had stagnated. The Development Committee’s agenda was getting long with difficult subjects being added constantly to it. MM played an extremely important role in helping the governments to understand that they had to work together to bring about sustained growth all over the world.
It soon became clear to us — to MM and myself — that we needed a strong developing country person to chair the committee and guide its deliberations. We turned to Ghulam Ishaq Khan who was at that time finance minister of Pakistan. Ishaq and MM were good friends and it was because of that friendship that the former agreed to contest the election of the chairmanship of the Development Committee. MM was instrumental in getting all the governments represented on the committee to agree to Ishaq Khan’s candidature. The Pakistani finance minister was elected by a unanimous vote. Helped by MM, Ishaq performed impressively in that position, winning the respect of both developed and developing countries. He was re-elected for a second term and continued in that position even after he left the finance ministry and became chairman of the Senate in Pakistan.
I offer these recollections to the readers of Dawn to celebrate the life of M. M. Ahmad, most of which was spent in the service of his country. MM gave all he had to Pakistan.
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