LAHORE - Among the unsung heroes of the September 1965 Pak-India war, the name of late parliamentarian Ch Zahoor Elahi stands singular for playing a vital role in the financial support of widows and dependents of the martyrs.

Ch Zahoor Elahi, father for former Prime Minister Ch Shujaat Hussain and uncle of sitting Punjab Speaker Assembly Ch Pervez Elahi, felt for martyrs’ families at a time when he himself was facing political hardships posed by then martial law regime of Ayub Khan.

The eminent industrialist of flourishing textile business, Ch Zahoor even suffered six months’ jail for challenging the draconian law, Elected Bodies Disqualification Order (EBDO), imposed by General Khan. But for the sake of the martyrs’ families, he did not mind those sufferings and got a special fund established for them through the same military dictator.

This was a clear sign of his respect and love for the country as well as for the brave soldiers who had protected the country at the cost of their lives and defeated the seven times bigger enemy.

In 1965, Pakistan was just 18 years old and beset by financial problems that told on every segment of the society, and the families of the martyrs were also not exception. It was a time when lack of resources had made it hard to honour the promises about helping others, but Ch Zahoor Elahi took a practical course to provide for the martyrs’ families and laid foundation of a channel that became a long time financial help to hundreds of thousands of members of the martyrs’ families.

When others did only lip service Zahoor Elahi not only asked General Ayub Khan to set up a special fund for the martyrs’ families but also took practical step to that direction by making a huge contribution of Rs300,000 to that fund. The spirit shown and efforts made by him motivated others in the thin but highly affluent class of the new born state to share their bit to that fund to reinforce the government contribution. It was by virtue of the efforts of Ch Zahoor, whose family had migrated from Amratsar, that members of martyrs’ families had respectable sustenance and were saved from being forgotten in the euphoria of war victory.

Ch Zahoor wanted to give that fund a distinguished character, so, he urged General Ayub Khan for keeping the fund for martyrs’ families distinct from all the others to ensure its continuity and unabated flow of resources to it.

Affirming these facts, former Naval Chief Admiral Muhammad Sharif paid glowing tributes to Ch Zahoor Elahi’s sincere efforts and gesture at that time. He noted that such passion and dedication is rare these days. Refreshing his September 65 war memories during talks with different delegations that called on him on the occasion of 44th Defence Day of Pakistan, the former naval chief said the role and contribution made in the post war period by Ch Zahoor should not be ignored and discounted in any way.

Besides establishment of the above said fund, Ch Zahoor Elahi also acknowledged the services of those civilians who had played role in achieving victory in the war. The name of Melody Queen Madam Noor Jahan stood at a high pedestal in that regard. The patriotic songs sung of Noor Jahan had infused a new spirit in the valiant Jawans of the Army during the war and also inspired the whole nation to stand shoulder to shoulder with their army.

In recognition of the vital contribution of Madam Noor Jahan during the war, Zahoor Elahi arranged an impressive function in her honour. The function was participated by a large number of intellectuals, bureaucrats and jurists, among them were Justice Sajjad Ahmad Jan (father of former President Waseem Sajjad) and Justice Anwaarul Haq. Ch Zahoor on that occasion crowned Madam Noor Jahan with gold which she preserved as a precious reward in her life.

Now it is for the young generation not to forget their heroes and the families of the brave soldiers who laid down their lives in defence of the nation as well as those who valued their services.