Ardeshir Cowasjee: Activist, Philanthropist and Columnist

By Almas Akhtar, TMO

Famous for his somewhat sarcastic writing style along with deep and clear perception of the social problems, Mr Cowasjee was one of the best known personalities of Pakistan. He was a widely recognized journalist.

Ardeshir Cowasjee died on November 24th, 2012 in Karachi, Pakistan. He was born in 1926 to a wealthy Parsi family, studied at BVS School and later DJ College, Karachi. He later joined his family business. He married Nancy Dinshaw and had two children Ava and Rustom.

Mr. Cowasjee created the Cowasjee Foundation which provided many scholarships to deserving students who wanted to pursue higher education.

Ardeshir Cowasjee was not only a journalist, he was an outspoken critic of injustice and corruption in Pakistan. He wrote articles for over two decades in the Daily Dawn the oldest newspaper in the country. He was rightfully regarded as the “Conscience of a Nation.” Mr. Cowasjee started with writing letters to the editor which later led to writing a regular column in the newspaper. He never hesitated to express his concerns about corruption or social injustice. Mr Cowasjee was a relentless social activist who said what was “right” not what was “politically correct.” He was a philanthropist who cared deeply for his country and specially his birth city of Karachi. His Sunday Dawn columns echoed the frustrations of an educated “baby boomer” generation watching their country’s decline at the hands of crooked politicians.

He helped build many educational and medical institutes through the Cowasjee Foundation. He was called the “old guardian” of the city of Karachi.

Karachi is going to miss its oldest and most recognized citizen. The TCF school in Lyari ( a suburb of Karachi) is named after him.

He did enjoy a friendly relationship up till some time with Prime Minister Zulfiqar Bhutto who appointed him as the Managing Director of Pakistan Tourism and Development Corporation in the year 1973. Later on he was jailed by Bhutto after Mr Cowasjee became a harsh critic of his policies.

He tried his best in his long journalistic career to improve the socio-economic condition of his beloved country. He wrote a regular column in the Daily Dawn from 1988 to 2011.

“Now, old at 85, tired, and disillusioned with a country that just cannot pull itself together in any way and get on with life in this day and age, I have decided to call it a day,” he wrote in December 2011 for Dawn. He did write two more articles in the newspaper after that in the year 2012.

His vibrant personality and sharp wit will be greatly missed.


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