Akhtar Hameed Khan
Social worker and community development activist who loved common people.
Dr. Khan created a legendary self-help programme called the 'Comila approach' in Comilla, formerly a part of East Pakistan, and later on in Karachi's slum, Orangi Pilot Project. The successful programme became a model for other Asian mega-cities.
Akhtar came to Cambridge, in 1935, in pursuit of higher education and a much sought after career in the prestigious ICS (Indian Civil Service). After coming back to India in 1938, he commenced his career with the ICS but, in 1945, he quit his service for his passion for services to the people.
Dr. Khan laid the foundation of his work - essential grassroots community development project in the form of Comilla Rural Academy in 1959 and the Orangi Pilot Project, in outskirts of Karachi in 1980s. These self-help projects resulted in the improvements in sanitation, healthcare, education and employment of low-income people all with meagre resources, leadership and planning. Always brimming with ideas and ready for action Dr Khan was all for rehabilitation and self-help solutions and believed that 'World Bank and Asian development Bank can take Pakistan nowhere.'
Dr. Khan, recognised globally as one of the top social workers of our age, was awarded Pakistan's Nishan-I-Imtiaz, Sitara-I-Pakistan and Hilal-I-Imtiaz and Magsaysay Award from Philippines. Dr Khan was also awarded Honorary DLtt degree by Pakistan's Karachi University and an honorary doctorate by Michigan State University where he had been a visiting professor.
Akhtar Hameed Khan, son-in-law of Allama Mashriqi (founder of Khaksar Tehrik in British India) was born in Agra, India and migrated to Pakistan in early 1950s. He was proficient in Urdu, Bengali, and English and also learnt Arabic, Persian, Pali, Hindi and Sanskrit. He was a simple and straightforward person who wore simple clothes made of Khaddar (rough and cheap cloth), who devoted his life to the uplifting of poor Pakistanis and was involved in several educational and rural development institutions.
Dr. Khan died of cardiac arrest in Indiana while visiting the USA.
Compiled by:M. Nauman Khan