May 22 - 28, 2000
Philanthropist, Freedom Fighter and a Confidant of the Quaid
Mahomedali Habib was born in Bombay on 15th May 1904. On his 96th birth
anniversary, the Government of Pakistan has issued a commemorative postage stamp in his
Mahomedali Habib, the pioneer of Muslim banking was a man of
exceptional quality of leadership and vision. He was not only Financial Advisor to
Quaid-e-Azam but also one of the leading figures of the Pakistan movement.
Soon after the declaration demanding an independent Pakistan at Lahore
in 1940, Mahomedali Habib with the full support of his brothers, particularly Dawood
Habib, upgraded the family's merchant banking practice into full-fledged commercial
banking in August 1941. The family called it Habib Bank Limited in memory of their father,
and founder of the House of Habib, Mr. Habib Esmail.
The Habib family transferred the Bank's Head Office to Karachi in 1947
just before the creation of Pakistan. Habib Bank was to play a pivotal role in providing
the basic banking and financial needs in building the economy of the new country. The bank
almost immediately began setting up a network of branches in East and West Pakistan to
help keep the goods and machinery of the industries moving. It also look up the first ever
issue of Government security in full made by the Government of Pakistan.
The trustworthiness and reputation of the Habibs prompted the
Government to appoint Habib Bank to undertake the Government's treasury functions.
Mahomedali Habib turned down this very lucrative and prestigious offer in the best
interest of the country. Instead he whole-heartedly participated in the formation of the
State Bank of Pakistan and also National Bank of Pakistan transferring experienced staff
from Habib Bank to run it.
August 1966 saw the 25th anniversary of Habib Bank Ltd. and in
recognition of its services to the government and people of Pakistan, the government
issued a special postage stamp to commemorate Habib Bank's silver jubilee.
Mahomedali Habib rendered numerous meritorious services to Pakistan. He
is best remembered for the blank cheque he presented to the Quaid to meet the newly
established state's financial obligations in the wake of partition, when Pakistan's
treasury was empty. This loan given in hundreds of millions was interest free.
This legend of a man during his short life created one of the finest
family business empire covering banking, Insurance, shipping, trading and numerous
industries. In social welfare, his involvement was so wide that hardly any conceivable
social activity escaped his attention. He established numerous benevolent trusts for
education, hospitals, orphanages, mosques, medical relief as well as housing for the poor
and trusts for food and clothing etc.
He was deeply religious and a devout Muslim. He compiled translation of
the Holy Quran with footnotes and other religious literatures which he published under his
pen-name M. H. Shakir.
Mr. Mahomedali Habib passed away on March 30, 1959 (Ramadan 20, 1379
Hijri) at the age of 55. B