Mustafizur Rahman Siddiqi

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M. R. Siddiqi
Ambassador to US & Mexico
In office
1971 (Govt.-in-Exile)
In office
1975–1978
President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
Minister for Commerce & Foreign trade
In office
1972–1973
Member of Bangladesh Parliament
In office
1973
Member of Pakistan National Assembly
In office
1962
In office
1970
Personal details
Born (1925-03-01)1 March 1925
Sitakunda, Chittagong, Bangladesh
Died 6 February 1992(1992-02-06) (aged 66)
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Nationality Bangladeshi
Political party Awami League
Spouse(s) Begum Latifa Siddiqi
Children Faisal Siddiqi, Kamel Siddiqi, Shams Siddiqi, Amer Siddiqi and Omar Siddiqi

Mustafizur Rahman Siddiqi (M.R. Siddiqi) (1 March 1925 – 6 February 1992) was an entrepreneur, politician and diplomat. He set up a number of manufacturing and finance businesses during the 1960s. He played a prominent role in the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, organising resistance within Bangladesh and travelling to the US to represent the Bangladesh Government in exile. He became Minister of Commerce and Foreign Trade in the newly formed state, and acted as special envoy to Mujibur Rahman and as ambassador to the US and Mexico. He was a leader of the Lions Clubs movement in Bangladesh, and held senior positions in other charities and business organisations.

Early history and education[edit]

Siddiqi was born on 1 March 1925 in Sitakunda, Chittagong (then East Bengal, now Bangladesh). He was the son of Mohammad Hossain Chowdhury. After his schooling in Sitakunda, he pursued higher education in Calcutta, India. He completed his M. Com. from Calcutta University in 1947. He served as lecturer at Dhaka University from 1948 to 1950. He then went on to take a degree in Commerce from London University and followed with the final examination of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales in 1954. He was elected a member of both the Royal Economic Society and the Royal Statistics Society.

Family life[edit]

After returning from the UK, he joined James Finlay PLC as Chief Accountant in 1955. On 9 February 1957, he married Latifa Khan, eldest daughter of A. K. Khan, an industrialist of East Pakistan and former Central Minister of Government of Pakistan. They had five sons: Feisal, Kamel, Shams, Amer and Omar. In 1958, he joined the A.K. Khan Group as Finance Director (1958–1964). He is also grandfather of Miraan Rahman Siddiqi

Business entrepreneur[edit]

His career as an entrepreneur started in 1962 and he played a leading role in the establishment of a number of new ventures as managing director and/or chairman. These companies were:

  • A.K. Khan Jute Mills Ltd.
  • Eastern Insurance Company Ltd. (now part of Sadharan Bima Corporation)
  • S.K.M Jute Mills Ltd.
  • National Motors Ltd.
  • Crescent Motors Ltd.
  • Therapeutics (Bangladesh) Ltd.
  • Sidko Limited (Trading Division)
  • Sidko Limited (Garments Division)
  • Federal Insurance Company Ltd.
  • Sponsor Director of the Eastern Mercantile Bank Ltd. (First East Pakistani Bank, at present Pubali Bank Ltd.)
  • Founding Vice-Chairman of Al-Baraka Bank Bangladesh Ltd.

Government and politics[edit]

Apart from a distinguished career as an entrepreneur, Siddiqi was also a leading figure in government and politics. He was elected member of the Pakistan National Assembly in 1962 as an independent candidate. He joined the Awami League Party in 1964 and was elected as its Treasurer. He was also President of Chittagong District Awami League from 1964 to 1972. He was again elected member of the National Assembly of Pakistan in 1970 and member of Bangladesh Parliament from the Chittagong-2 constituency in 1973.[1][2]

1971 Liberation War[edit]

The high point of his political career was his leading role in the Bangladesh Liberation War. As president of District Awami League and Convener of Sangram Parishad of Chittagong, he organised the resistance against the Pakistan Army, including the establishment of the Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra radio station, initially based at Kalurghat. He initiated the activities of the Bangladesh Government in exile and was subsequently Chairman of the Eastern zone (command) comprising five districts of Chittagong Division and districts of Barisal, Faridpur and Dhaka. In July 1971, he was sent to USA and Canada as envoy of the exiled government to lobby support from the US and Canadian Government.[3][4]

Minister of Commerce and Foreign Trade[edit]

After the liberation of Bangladesh in 1972, he was appointed Minister for Commerce and Foreign Trade in the first Bangabandhu cabinet.[5] In 1973, as special envoy of the Prime Minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, he met the heads of state and governments of the USA, Canada, Britain, Italy, France and West Germany and lobbied for the repatriation of stranded Bangladeshis from Pakistan.

Ambassador to the US and Mexico[edit]

He was appointed Ambassador to the US[6] and Mexico in July 1975 by the Bangladesh Government.

Retirement from politics[edit]

He retired from active politics in 1980 despite being approached by successive regimes.

Social work and humanitarian efforts[edit]

"Father of Lionism" in Bangladesh[edit]

M. R. Siddiqi was also known for his social work. He joined the Lions movement in the then East Pakistan when it was founded in 1958 and became President of Chittagong Lions Club. When a devastating cyclone and tidal bore hit the coastal areas of Chittagong (Halishahar, Kattali and Sitakunda) in 1960, it was under his leadership that a massive relief operation was undertaken, for which he was awarded "The Lions Humanitarian Award", the most prestigious in Lions International, and was also made an honorary "International Counselor". Through his initiative a separate provisional Lions District 305E (Pakistan) was formed in 1962, with him elected as the first District Governor.

In 1966, Siddiqi formed the "Chittagong Lions Foundation", the first such Foundation in the history of Lionism. The Chittagong Lions Eye Hospital (the foundation stone was laid by Siddiqi on 5 January 1963) was initiated by the Lions of South East Asia and Indo-Pak Sub-continent. Subsequently, The Bangladesh Lions Foundation and The Lions Eye Hospital at Agargaon, Dhaka were established in 1983, again under the chairmanship of Siddiqi.

After the emergence of Bangladesh in 1972, Siddiqi again took the lead in organising the Lions Clubs. He served as District Governor of District 315E from 1972 to 1974, and together with his friend, Deputy District Governor Mohammed Khaled, he re-organized and formed new clubs all over Bangladesh. He was the Forum Chairman of "The 17th Africa and South West Asia Lions International Forum" held in Dhaka in 1989.

Other organisations[edit]

Apart from Lions, he was President of OISCA (Bangladesh Chapter), Chairman of Under-Privileged Children Education Programme (UCEP) and Founder of Latifa Siddiqi Girls College and Girls High School of Kumira, Sitakunda. He held many leadership positions in associations and organisations of various types, including presidency of Insurance Association of Pakistan, Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bangladesh Aushad Shilpa Samity. He was also the founder President of Bangladesh Japan Friendship Society. He was the Governor of Bangladesh Chamber of Industries, which he helped to established in 1985.

Siddiqi died at the age of 67 on 6 February 1992 in Dhaka.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kamal, Mohammad Mostafa (2012). "Siddiqui, MR". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. 
  2. ^ "List of 1st Parliament Members". Bangladesh Parliament. Retrieved 22 January 2016. 
  3. ^ Bangladesh. Embassy of Bangladesh. 1971. 
  4. ^ Sukumāra Biśvāsa (2005). Bangladesh Liberation War, Mujibnagar Government Documents, 1971. Mowla Brothers. p. 258. ISBN 978-984-410-434-1. 
  5. ^ Boster, Davis (24 July 1975). "Biographic Information on Mustafizur Rahman Siddiqi". WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks cable: 1975DACCA03598_b. Retrieved 22 January 2016. 
  6. ^ Diplomatic List. Department of State. 1978. p. iv. 

External links[edit]

Discussions with US presidents (pdf files)[edit]

US Department of State documents[edit]

US media[edit]

References in the Liberation War of Bangladesh, 1971