Monday, September 16, 2013


Are great leaders born or made? We often ask ourselves this question. In Pakistan the answer is very simple; Leaders are born .If the person is born in a feudal family or in a Parliamentarian’s house, he or she is, by default, a leader. Current politics of Pakistan is full of so called “born leaders” like Bhutto, Sharif, Makhdoom, Sardar or Khan etc. Feudal mindset, nepotism and corruption are the common ingredients in these born leaders.  The truth is that great leaders are neither born nor made; they achieve that status through life experiences and learning opportunities that lead to development of leadership qualities and abilities.

On 17th September 1953, in a lower middle-class locality of Karachi known as Ibn-e-Sina line, a boy named Altaf Hussain was born to  Khurshid Begum and  Nazir Hussain.  After the creation of Pakistan on August 14, 1947, the parents of Mr. Altaf Hussain along with the whole family migrated to the newly created State of Pakistan and settled down in Karachi. Nazir Hussain, a former stationmaster in Indian Railways, took up a job as an office worker at a local mill in Karachi. 14 year old Altaf Hussain lost his father and his mother passed away later, in 1985. He got his early education in government schools and college.He went to Karachi University where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Pharmacy.

During his time at Karachi University, Altaf Hussain formed the student organization “ All Pakistan Muhajir Students Organization”   APMSO) on June 11th, 1978. Its objective was to provide political representation to the Muhajir community. In March 18th, 1984, APMSO was restructured to form Muhajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) and on July 26th, 1997 MQM transformed into Muttahida (united) Qaumi Movement. Currently MQM is the second largest party in Sindh and the traditionally the third largest in the country.

Party Discipline, honesty, vision, education, empowerment, communication, service to humanity and organizational setup are the few of the many components which took Altaf Hussain and his organization from zero to sixty within a few years.

Many leaders spend too much time telling people what they must accomplish and far too little time helping them learn how to get it done. Mr. Altaf Hussain was not only the founder and leader of the party but also a teacher of the party members. He accomplished this by starting study circles (Fikri Nashist) in which he illuminated, analyzed and found solutions to social, political and community problems. In his talks he emphasized nation and character building. Without Internet and modern communication tools, study circles were the most effective way of spreading the Ideology/message of MQM back in the 80s and 90s.

As a leader, Altaf Hussain built a loyal relationship with his followers. He built strong and motivated teams and was able to groom more leaders in a short interval of time than any other party since the existence of Pakistan. Instead of recruiting electables to his party, Altaf Hussain made the educated common man from the street an electable candidate. Dr Farooq Sattar was elected mayor of Karachi, at age 28,  the youngest person to hold this position. Late Dr. Imran Farooq was elected to the Pakistan National Assembly and became the Parliamentary Leader of MQM, at the age of 28, and Syed Mustafa Kamal, nazim (mayor) of the city of Karachi, are few examples of Altaf Hussain’s vision of leadership empowerment.

MQM's ideological and philosophical approach encompasses the concept of service to humanity without any prejudice or discrimination. Mr Altaf Hussain and his colleagues formed KKC (Khidmat-e-Khalq Committee) in 1978. Mr. Altaf Hussain and his associates contributed all their pocket money and remuneration received by giving tuition, to the KKC fund. From this money and the donations received from students, other less fortunate students were helped.  KKC was transformed into KKF, Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundation, in January 1998. KKF is now one of the biggest charitable organization in Pakistan with sister organizations in UK, USA and Canada.

Altaf Hussain was not born with golden spoon nor did he belong to a feudal family. He became a great leader by hard work, education, vision,and Ideology of social justice. His goal was the eradication of Corruption and his philosophy is that of Realism and Practicalism.  A great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves and become better than they ever thought they could be. A great leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way. All great leaders lead by example and Altaf Hussain is one of them.

Twitter ID: @fawadrehman

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