By: Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai
Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Elay’hi Raji’oon.
We are saddened to know the demise of Sardar Shahnawaz Khan, one of the prominent political and business personalities of Poonch, Azad Kashmir. He was 89.
One of the first graduates of Poonch and a colleague of the founding President of Azad Kashmir, Barrister Sardar Ibrahim Khan Sahib, Sardar Shahnawaz Khan had a passion for the cause of Kashmir. His devotion, enthusiasm and political belief were exemplary.
He was an elected Chairman, Union Council, Poonch. As an elected official, he was known for this philanthropic activities, helping people in need and building mosques and roads in his area.
Being a businessman, he wanted to explore other possible business avenues. So he migrated to Norway in 1970’s after spending some times in Moscow.
In Norway, his love for this motherland did not die down. He established Kashmir Welfare Society in Oslo, Norway to high light the tragic situation in Indian occupied Kashmir and mobilize the public opinion there.
His honesty and guidance and more importantly his sincerity and dedication was genuine as testified by persuading his son, Ali Shahnawaz Khan to run with the leadership torch at the corridors of power in Oslo. His proud son has kept the candle of freedom kindled through his deep involvement with the Norwegian politicians and diplomats.
What a preparation! Within years, Ali Shahnawaz captured the attention of the ruling elites of Norway. He established Kashmir Scandinavian Council which became instrumental in persuading Norwegian parliamentarians to establish first Norwegian Parliamentary Kashmir Group. This group has raised the issue of Kashmir within the Parliament and beyond.
Ali’s advocacy of the cause of Kashmir not only at the corridors of power in Norway but elsewhere have had an impact on many policy-making agencies and personalities. I am personally witness to a meeting that Ali arranged for me with Doug Coe, then the Chairman of ‘The Fellowship’ and according to the Time Magazine, one of the top 25 influential Evangelicals in the United States. Mr. Coe addressed Ali as Ambassador of Kashmir.
Sardar Shahnawaz Khan was a man with a mission. It is now up to his son to carry out that mission further.
May Allah place his soul in Jannatul Firdous!. Ameen.