Islamabad (Imran Y. CHOUDHRY) :- Former Press Secretary to the President, Former Press Minister to the Embassy of Pakistan to France, Former MD, SRBC Mr. Qamar Bashir analysis :
I was a member of the inquiry and investigation team commissioned by the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting, and Heritage to investigate the disappearance of high-value paintings and artefacts allegedly sold on the black market with the connivance of Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA) officers and staff. We used a scientific method. We took the inventory in our possession, converted one of the exhibition halls into an inspection area, and inspected the entire collection of art and artefacts one-by-one. After comparing the results to the original inventory, we discovered that a number of priceless works by renowned and legendary artists were missing, including some high-value calligraphy by Sadequain.
The results of the investigation were duly referred to the FIA for further investigation, identification of the perpetrator, and recovery of the missing pieces. To my surprise, some of the missing Sadequain’s paintings were on exhibit in the ambassador’s room and the foyer when I was later assigned as the Press Minister to the Pakistani Embassy in France. I reported the discovery of the lost paintings to the ministry, but was unable to pursue the outcome of my report.
Once, in my office in Paris, we were discussing Sadequain’s paintings when a friend of a friend proudly announced that he has over seventy-five pieces of Sadequain’s calligraphic work that have not yet been exhibited anywhere in the world and are safely stored in his native home in Kharian, close to Jhelum.
I did not pay much attention to his boasting, but the next day he brought a nicely printed catalogue of the painting with pictures and their illustration and offered to exhibit these priceless and previously undiscovered artefacts in Paris to demonstrate Pakistan’s mastery of the art of calligraphy.
I introduced him to the Ambassador, and we decided to enlist a French museum or art gallery as a partner in order to exhibit these priceless and uncommon works of art. He recounted the history of his cherished possession during this conversation. He stated that he had eight siblings, all of whom were handicapped, and that he was the only one with normal abilities. He stated that his heart used to bleed as he watched his mother struggle alone with no PDA school within miles, until her death, which left him in charge of his precious siblings. As a tribute to my late mother I resolved to build a state-of-the-art facility in the heart of rural Punjab to alleviate all mothers with Persons with Different Abilities (PDAs) of this immense and overwhelming responsibility. This was my motivation throughout my entire youth and adulthood in France: to amass sufficient wealth to start and finish the undertaking of my dreams. Due to my dexterity and diligence, a renowned French architect and building contractor employed me as a caretaker, but due to my integrity and diligence, he adopted me as a family member. Incidentally, he was a friend of Sadequain and had always been his host during his time in Paris during the 1960s and 1970s. For Sadaquain, this was the most productive period of his artistic career, and he tirelessly produced high-quality works of art and being a carefree person he donated 75 pieces to art work his French host, and before the french host passed away, he gave them to me and since then I have kept them in my possession under lock and key. Until I realised that now is the time to share them with art enthusiasts and sadaquine’s admirers around the globe. The Pakistan Embassy of France should take this pride in displaying them in a suitable venue in France to showcase Pakistan’s prowess in high end art and paintings.
Spellbound by his story, the Ambassador’s next question was about his dream of setting up of a facility for handicapped persons and once again we were awed by his amazing story as to how he converted his dream into reality. He said with his lifelong saving in Paris he return to Pakistan in 1990 and setup a school with a few handicapped children in Kharain his native town. Meanwhile, the groundwork was set for the development of cutting-edge facilities, which was inaugurated in 2009. Claude Monet, a well-known French painter and architect, designed the facility. The project was funded by me and my close acquaintances who shared a similar passion. The facility was registered as Al-Mudassar Trust, and it is now housed in a state-of-the-art complex with five separate schools for blinds and deafs, physically and mentally challenged, a vocational center, rehabilitation lab each manned by a separate team of dedicated, motivated, and well-paid professional teachers and trainers. The schools have fully equipped classrooms, computer labs, audio testing facilities, Lego laboratories and libraries, a resource centre, a mosque, playgrounds, and boys and girls hostels where over 500 students of varying abilities are housed, fed, and provided with one of the best customised educations and extracurricular activities. Currently, construction of a state of the art special college facility is nearing completion, with plans to expand it to the university level in the near future.
We heard his story in total disbelief, but somehow since then we were connected via whatsapp. Later, I was transferred to Pakistan in 2020 and it was not until 2023 when he called me and invited me to visit his complex. I took my time out and with my wife reached the complex around 12 noon in June via GT Road. Soon as we turned to Phallia road, we noticed a towering building, with towers and domes and arches, a typical french architect of a dreamy castle which suddenly reminded you of the story of a barbie princess. My wife was also surprised by the antique architecture of the building and said it reminds her of a French palace which was priced by the French people as heritage. Our GPS stopped right in front of this marvellous building and on our honking, a guard opened the door and we were usher to the nicely laid out office of Mr. Mudassar Shah, the chairman of the trust and one of his close friends, who greeted us.
Without further ado, I asked him to show me around the facility. The complex was not only towering from the outside, but also from the inside. And what we saw inside was beyond our wildest dreams. The interior of the school was designed beautifully. Brightly painted classes with modern and expensive furnishings, walls decorated with charts and buntings created by students, tastefully tiled flooring, handicapped accessible washrooms, rooms with creatively laid down educational tools and cutting-edge assisted technologies. A fully equipped lego and computer lab and a vocation centre. We visited separate psychological and physical examination and counselling rooms, a prosthetic limb lab, and a well-equipped 20-bed hospital. Meeting rooms, waiting rooms, and a fully equipped gymnasium are all available. The spacious and bright hallways, sprawling and manicured lawns, a man-made lake, and lush plantation. We also saw a lot of continuing constructions, which he told, are part of the expansion effort to build a modern research institute for the blind and a research and development facility for the mentally and physically handicapped. The entire structure was wheelchair accessible, allowing pupils of various abilities to walk freely and independently.
My second inquiry was how he could sustain such a massive facility, which must have cost million per month. He stated that he had put all of his savings into this endeavour, and that a huge number of valuable family assets and properties had been bequeathed to the trust, which earns a handsome profit that is entirely used to finance day-to-day expenses. He also stated that he has received donations from friends and family members in the United Kingdom and France, as well as a few business houses in Pakistan that have adopted either our kids or classes, helping them to cover day-to-day expenses.
When asked what his future dreams are, he said without hesitation that his dream is to replicate this facility in other rural areas of Pakistan and provide state-of-the-art education and skills to all handicapped children in order to equip them with the confidence and skills to become financially, economically, and socially independent.
He stated that up until now, we have been running the wonder on Earth with our family resources and by soliciting meagre donations. But, because our objective is to replicate these incredible facilities in other parts of the country, we are now looking for all kinds of collaborations with public and commercial national and international institutions to work together on this noble task.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for my wife and me. I will ask all readers to please stop for a moment in Kharian https://www.almudassar.org/ while travelling on GTroad and personally experience this small miracle on earth and let fill your heart and spirit with the energy, exuberance, and joy of the students and teachers, especially Mr. Mudassar Shah and his wife’s.