One of Pakistan’s most eminent lawyers and a key member of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s cabinet, my father, Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, was a colossus. He passed away on Sept. 1 at the age of 80.
In his professional life, he kept judges and counsels spellbound with his commanding, seasoned knowledge and skillful arguments. At home, he captivated family and friends with his affection, mastery of a multitude of subjects, boyish charm and mischievous humor.
Born in Sukkur in 1935 to Zulekha and Abdus Sattar Pirzada, who served as Sindh’s chief minister, my father began his legal practice in 1957. He married my mother, Sadia, two years later. Their 56-year marriage resulted in four children—Shaziae, Haseeb, Sehr and myself—and five grandchildren—Gibran, Zameer, Mahnoor, Hamza and Eden—all of whom he was devoted to.
My father’s professional achievements had national significance—he was the principal author of Pakistan’s 1973 Constitution and a founding member of the Pakistan People’s Party. He was generous with his insights and experience, serving as beacon for younger lawyers, including myself. He was my mentor, but above all, he was also my closest and dearest friend. In the countless hours we spent together as lawyers, we would debate endlessly about the law and politics, collaborate on finding solutions to our joint cases, and would often end up in heated arguments over our differences in approach over a situation.
Law and politics, however, could not draw him away from his indigenous roots and, quintessentially, he was a son of the soil. For well-earned breaks, my father had two favorite retreats: his agricultural estate in Badin—where he grew cotton, chili, sugarcane and other crops and reared livestock; and where he was often joined by my sister Sehr—and Rose Court, his home in West Berkshire with its vast grounds and babbling brook, where he spent time with my sister Shaziae. He loved a good hunt, and there was scarcely a moment when he wasn’t planning his next shoot in Sindh or in the U.K. My brother, Haseeb, shared this passion with him.
Abdul Hafeez Pirzada was a man of compassion and empathy, a champion of justice for all. Wherever he went and whomever he met, he never hesitated to help, which was an unequivocal manifestation of his single greatest characteristic, his humane heart. He was a man of his time and yet also always ahead of it. Just weeks before his passing, he had ably argued matters of public importance in court and remained at the peak of his profession. When his time finally came, he went with peace and honor, in the manner he had always wished: with his boots on.
Pirzada is a barrister-at-law and head of litigation at Hafeez Pirzada Law Associates, Karachi. From our Oct. 10-17, 2015, issue.