13 April 1926|
Karachi, Bombay Presidency, British India (now Pakistan)
|Died||24 November 2012
|Parents||Rustomjee Fakirjee Cowasjee|
Ardeshir Cowasjee (13 April 1926 – 24 November 2012) (Urdu: اردشير کاوﺳﺠﻰ) was a Pakistani newspaper columnist, social activist, and philanthropist. Belonging from Karachi, his columns regularly appeared in the country's oldest English newspaper, Dawn.He was also the Chairman of the Cowasjee Group and was engaged in philanthropic activities in addition to being regarded as an old "guardian" of the city of Karachi.
Cowasjee was born on 13 April 1926 in Karachi to the well-known Cowasjee Parsi (Zoroastrian) family. His father, Rustom Fakirjee Cowasjee, was a businessman in merchant shipping. Ardeshir attended the Bai Virbaiji Soparivala (BVS) Parsi High School and graduated from DJ Science College, Karachi. Later, he joined his father's business, the Cowasjee Group. In 1953, he married Nancy Dinshaw, with whom he had two children – Ava (daughter) and Rustom (son).
Cowasjee owned a family run shipping company, that at the time of the independence of Pakistan was the Karachi's largest shipping company. This shipping company was nationalized during Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's premiership. He was appointed by Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as Managing Director of Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) in 1973. He was jailed for 72 days in 1976 by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto for which no explanation has been given to date; it is said that Prime Minister Bhutto did this because Cowasjee was becoming increasingly vocal about Bhutto's authoritarian ways. Cowasjee subsequently started writing letters to the editor of Dawn newspaper, which led to him becoming a permanent columnist. Since then, his hard-hitting and well-researched columns in Dawn have continuously exposed corruption, nepotism, and incompetence in different local, provincial, and national governments. On 25 December 2011, Cowasjee's last article for Dawn was published.
Las Angeles times described him thus: "His is a stubborn non-Muslim voice in this nation created as an Islamic homeland, refusing to be silenced. Attempts have been made. His life has been threatened so often the government has provided him with 24-hour protection.
Via the Cowasjee Foundation, Cowasjee was the financier of many scholarships for students wishing to pursue higher education. These included grants for both local and overseas education. They were termed "loans" and Cowasjee encouraged recipients to repay them so that others could benefit from the funds; however, he expected that the majority of the funds would not be repaid.
Cowasjee died at the age of 86, on 24 November 2012. He was suffering from chest illness and remained in hospital for twelve days.
- Ardeshir Cowasjee passes away, Express Tribune, November 24, 2012
- Ardeshir Cowasjee: The Curmudgeon of Karachi BY JAHANZEB ASLAM, Newsweek, 12/3/12
- IBA names centre after Ardeshir Cowasjee
- Nirupama Subramanian (16 January 2010). "Old man by the sea". The Hindu. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
- Pakistan columnist doesn't mince words, February 11, 2008, LA Times, John M. Glionna
- "Veteran Pakistani columnist Cowasjee passes away at 86". Dawn. 24 November 2012. Retrieved 25 November 2012.