As the year 2017 comes to an end, Pakistan remains inflicted with dire prospects. Political instability, unemployment, economic degradation, terrorism, illiteracy and corruption are among the major challenges posing grave threats to progress and prosperity. The whole nation is in a reactive and fire-fighting mode. In such times, it is the need of the hour to look towards our achievers from the past, and to the principles followed by our heroes. Mr. Rafi Butt is one of those personalities who set a standard of performance and accomplishment for generations to come. His vision for industry and commerce in Pakistan and his actions remain steadfast in their relevance to-date. It is through leadership, innovation and profound prudence that Pakistan can be rescued from its negative predicament following the footsteps of Mr. Rafi. From his revolutionary tactics in the arena of modern business and industrialization to an unwavering interest and sense of responsibility towards the nation, Mr. Rafi Butt was one of a kind in his time and men like him are all we need today.
Mr. Rafi Butt was born in the year 1909 and started his career at an early age as an entrepreneur. Even in the backdrop of capricious circumstances before 1947, he was able to create a successful company, one that could match the established corporate entities of the time in the hands of Hindus of the subcontinent. The only difference was that this one was headed by a young Muslim. This was not possible without surpassing heavy odds and possessing a vision like no other. It was undoubtedly, a work of faith as well as pure dedication. The excellence in entrepreneurial ability can be gauged from the fact that Mr. Rafi expanded from just 12 workers to 600 in afew years. Intelligently, he was able to capitalize on the demand for surgical goods during World War II. The factory at Ferozepur road was a symbol of stature and talent. Not only did he manage to setup multiple companies to make an independent name for Muslims in the business community of the sub-continent but also provided vital avenues of growth and skill-learning. Having a keen sense of financial discipline and brilliance, Mr. Rafi laid the foundation of the Central Exchange Bank, which was the first Muslim Bank in Northern India. The bank provided much needed support and financial framework to the public and budding businesses and ended up paying 5% dividend in the first year of operation, which was unprecedented.
From an economist’s perspective, industrialists need banks and capital to gather inputs and supplies and then the investments, if successful,come up with returns so that the banks are paid the principal amount. Mr. Rafi Butt is an extra-ordinary illustration where an entrepreneur created a successful organization and with the support of that setup, was able to build a bank that could nurture and support other successful companies.
Another, feat of Mr. Rafi Butt is his association with the father of the nation, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Apart from his business-oriented activities, Mr. Rafi Butt wholeheartedly fulfilled his role as a member of nation struggling against the clutches of communal and colonial strife. As an honor for the family of Mr. Rafi, Quaid-e-Azam himself paid a visit to his factory in 1946. From thereon, he intensified his efforts to support the cause of the Muslim League, realizing the gravity of the circumstances. A remarkable book by the name of, “My Dear Quaid-e-Azam” contains details of letters that signify the devotion of Mr. Rafi as an active stakeholder in the freedom struggle and in the uplift of Muslims, particularly in Punjab. Invoking a sense of social and national obligation, he took active part in boosting the scientific and industrial progress relating to the Muslim community.
Mr. Rafi Butt was well-known within the business community, he was a prominent voice in favor of Pakistan and his message carried considerable weight. The great leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah recognized his services to the nation and actively communicated with him through letters. During the freedom struggle, Mr. Rafi Butt travelled to United States of America and Canada to study industrial development. As a true visionary, Mr. Rafi Butt wanted to implement the policies adopted by these developed countries to boost Pakistan trade and industry on the same lines.
Pakistan is the sixth largest country in the world by population. A land that is rich with natural resources and a geo-strategic position on the globe. As China seeks to partner up with Pakistan to form a mutually beneficial arrangement that will change the distribution of regional trade and power, it is imperative that prominent private companies and large business groups must join hands and rally under the banner of nationalism.
The life of Mr. Rafi Butt signifies triumph with innovation, dedication and loyalty. Unemployment and tax evasion would be non-existent if the trade and commerce in the country was motivated and inspired by personalities like Mr. Rafi Butt. His practices need to be followed in wake of CPEC and other industrial opportunities available. Vision and leadership is the order of the day. Industrialists are the backbone of the nation. Today, we lack the profound sense of obligation and responsibility which was the bedrock of the philosophy behind Pakistan. A democracy based on the concepts of Islam. It was a dream that was never realized as many a great leaders and heroes did not live to witness its realization.
Mr. Rafi Butt died within one year of the creation of Pakistan, a great loss indeed. His role as member of the Muslim League Planning Committee and is overall contribution in the creation of Pakistan will never be forgotten. It is the duty and burden of the business community, Federal and Provincial chambers of commerce, companies large and small to invigorate a vision similar to that of Mr. Rafi Butt. Without it, a revival, a symbiotic relationship between the public and private entities will never come to pass. Commemoration of such personalities and following the examples and principles set by them hold the key to our way forward and beyond. Long Live Pakistan!