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Homage to Rehan Hassan Naqvi: humanist par excellence

Huzaima Bukhari & Dr. Ikramul Haq

Sadly, on March 20, 2010 we lost Mr. Rehan Hassan Naqvi, a humanist par excellence, brilliant intellectual and extraordinary legal mind—he was different from all other tax lawyers of his time. Not only are his contributions to the legal profession unmatched and everlasting but his loving personality will forever remain a source of inspiration for all. History will remember him as a highly dignified man, who never compromised on principles. He was honest to the core, dedicated and a man of integrity. He was friendly with everyone—age or any other consideration was totally irrelevant—and more importantly, benevolent towards all irrespective of their social standing. Personal grudge, enmity and malice were alien concepts for him.

He was a firm and faithful practitioner of his truthful ideas which he never surrendered before anybody for his personal benefits. Ardent preacher and defender of higher moral values, he waged a relentless struggle throughout his life to ensure supremacy of rule of law. Justice and freedom, work and love were his passions in life. His greatness lay in his commitment and practice of those ideals. He, unlike many others, was not a cliché-monger. He once said: “I loathe those who pay lip service to moral values but act otherwise”. Hypocrisy was totally unacceptable to him.

He spent his entire life as a true believer of human values—justice, forgiveness, love for all, quest for knowledge, concern for the oppressed, fairness towards all, and professional integrity. Till his last days, he was enthusiastically and labouriously preparing cases, appearing regularly in courts (waiting sometimes for hours but leaving late in the afternoon; most of the time without the case being taken up), reading and writing with the help of Ms. Lubna Pervaiz, whom he aptly called his Qurat-ul-ain (light of eyes). Every Friday, he would meet his close friends at lunch, a practice that continued for decades. He was one of the most cultured men in town, whose company everybody desired.

Art of loving was both his forte and nature—he was an authentic being having unshakeable belief in his own self and his cherished ethical norms. His self was nafis-e-mutmainna (satisfied soul)—a mere dream for majority of human beings. He was an epitome of selfless love and all-pervasive kindness. Beneficiaries of his benevolence and love were all and sundry—no discrimination whatsoever: relatives, friends, co-workers and even strangers. He was a rare gem in the Land of Pure where most of the people have their own axe to grind.

Brief life sketch

Text Box:  Mr. Rehan Hassan Naqvi was born on 20th March 1925 at Amroha, District Muradabad, U.P., India. After initial education at various places in U.P., India passed B.A. and M.A. (English) from Meerut College, Meerut, he migrated to Karachi, Pakistan in 1948 and joined Military Accounts Department. He passed SAS examination in 1950 and rose to the status of Deputy Controller of Military Accounts, the post he resigned in 1963. During the period of service he also passed M.A. (Sociology) and LL.B from University of Karachi.

He was enrolled as Pleader in 1965 and joined M/s. Sharif & Co., Advocates. In 1969, he was enrolled as Advocate High Court of West Pakistan and later as Advocate Supreme Court in 1979. He was thrice elected as President Income Tax Bar Association Karachi (1974-75,    1979-80 and 1988). He was founder of All Pakistan Tax Bar Association (1979) and acted as Senior Vice President (1979 to 1991). He was twice elected as President of All Pakistan Tax Bar Association (1991 to 1993 and 1996 to 1998).

Mr. Naqvi was Founder Member of Asia Oceania Tax Consultants Association Japan and acted as its Vice President (1992 to November 1999). He was appointed Honorary Advisor of Asia Oceania Tax Consultants Association (November 1999 till his death) and visited Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia, Belgium in connection with AOTCA and India, U.S.A., U.K, France, Belgium. On special invitation, he delivered a lecture on Self Assessment Scheme at Malaysian Institute of Taxation.

He was appointed as Member: Committee of Fixed Tax on Small Traders, by the Government of Pakistan (1988), Tax Reform Commission, Government of Pakistan (1991), Advisory Council, Special Committee to Examine Taxation, Government of Pakistan (1996 to 1999). In 2003 he was notified as Member of Advisory Committee, Federal Tax Ombudsmen (2003).      

With the assistance of Mr. Saleem Laliwala F.C.A, Mr. Rehan Hassan Naqvi authored, Key to Income Tax Ordinance 2001. He also remained Member Pakistan Institute of International Affairs, Patron Arts Council, Karachi, Trustee of Shah Willayat Educational Trust and Chairman Saadat Amroha Cooperative Housing Society (1978 to 1982).  He was Member Governing Body, Ziauddin Medical University, Karachi.

With a wee bit of knowledge, wealth and popularity men seem to become arrogant and disdainful but despite being in possession of all these, Rehan Hassan Naqvi’s humility remained his hallmark. Modesty, humbleness and compassion were personified in his extraordinary personality which was both charming and charismatic. His words reflected wisdom and his actions betrayed inspiration. He never showed pessimism, his criticism of the system and corrupt practices was never tainted with negativity, with full optimism, he aspired for change and reforms. Cynicism never crept in his thinking. His positive attitude towards life, firm hope for a better future, inspired and motivated all those who knew him or read his work.

In his life and work there are many things worthy to be cherished and praised. Few can match his class in contribution to tax literature—through case law and writings. His last article, as usual thought-provoking, well-researched and constructive, appeared in the February issue of Tax Review. Doyen of creativity and critical thinking, during his last days he worked on changing the status of Tax Tribunals as independent forums free from the clutches of bureaucracy, working under the direct supervision of High Courts or Supreme Court. He exchanged many drafts for this proposal with leading tax experts and former judges, notably Mr. Saleem Akhtar and Mr. Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim.

Mr. Rehan always resisted injustice of any kind with full force, loudly and proudly. He was enthusiastically committed to see Pakistan a truly democratic and egalitarian State. For this cause, he played his due role. He was a zealous optimist who was in full agreement with the revolutionary poet, Faiz Ahmad Faiz that:

Qafas hai bas meiñ tumhaare, tumhaare bas meiñ nahiñ Chaman meiñ aatish-e gul ke nikhaar ka mausam Bala se hum ne na dekha to aur dekhenge Furogh-e gulshan-o saut-e hazaar ka mausam

The prison may be yours, yet you do not control

The season of the flowering of the bright rose

What if we don’t see but the ones following us will

Witness blossoming gardens, enjoy ditties of the nightingale

Like Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, he always prayed for his country and countrymen:

Khuda kare ke meri arz-e-paak par utray
Woh fasl-e-gul jise andeishaey zawaal na ho

Khuda kare ke na khum ho sar-e-waqar-e-watan
Aur uske husn ko tashvishay maosaal na ho
Har ek fard ho tehzeeb-o-fun ka audhaey kamaal
Koi malool na ho, koi khusta haal na ho

Khuda kare ke mere ek bhi humwatan ke liye,
Hayat jurm na ho zindagi wabaal na ho
Aur khuda kare ke meri arz-e-paak par utray
Woh fasl-e-gul jise andeishaey zawaal na ho

O God! Shower on my blessed land

Blessings of a kind that know only perpetuity 

O God! Never let my motherland be subjugated

Nor should time torment its beauty

Each citizen be an emblem of achievement

Facing neither remorse nor poverty

O God! For every one of my country

Existence mean, not crime and life, no torture

O God! Shower on my blessed land

Blessings of a kind that know only perpetuity 

Mr. Rehan Hassan Naqvi was a legend in his life. He was fortunate to get recognition during his life time—this society is notorious for recognising and showering love on great people, posthumously. Fame and recognition made him more humble. He was so humane and unassuming that even a novice in the field of tax law did not feel uneasy in his company. This was where his real greatness lay.

The work he did for the suffering humanity—his dear friend, Doctor Adeeb Rizvi can testify to it—has made him immortal. Immortality lies in good deeds and Rehan Hassan Naqvi has proved it beyond any iota of doubt. He will continue to live in the hearts of many but no one will be able to fill the void left by his departure. For us he was not only be a mentor and friend but a fatherly-figure as well, whose existence was like a protective shield.  May Allah Almighty rest his soul in eternal peace and shower his blessings on him—Aameen.


The writers, tax lawyers, are Visiting Professors at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).                 

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