Vol. 4 Num 50 Wed. July 16, 2003  

In memoriam
End of an era
Barrister Syed Ishtiaq Ahmed

It is undoubtedly a sad news for the nation, for relatives, friends and thousand admirers that Barrister Syed Ishtiaq Ahmed is no more. With his demise, the nation has seen an end of an era. While studying economics in the London School of Economic he joined the Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn, London. He was a very distinguished lawyer, a gentleman par excellence and above all, he guided the nation in numerous crisis through his timely advices in legal matters. His credentials were impeccable and he will be remembered through ages for these. He held various important charges in the Government of Bangladesh and was known for his transparent integrity and dedication. His arguments in diversified legal matters remain to be very important documents of reference. His abiding interest was grassroots democracy, for which he considered the need of bifurcation of judicial system from administration. In his later years of life, it was probably his last ambition to see the separation of judiciary. It was Barrister Syed Ishtiaq Ahmed who started the process during his sojourn stay as an adviser to the caretaker government in 2001. Although the matter now lies in the final stage, it is pity that Barrister Ishtiaq could not see the materialisation of this during his lifetime. Barrister Ishtiaq was a quiet, self-effacing lawyer who quietly worked for the improvement of democracy and civil society. For this he will be long remembered. In an interview with Channel I, Barrister Ishtiaq narrated the arduous road he had to go through to reach the pinnacle that he ultimately scaled. A brilliant product of the University of Dhaka, he always wanted to be an independent professional man, and as such chose to become a lawyer instead of becoming a civil servant.

Barrister Ishtiaq was the husband of my first cousin National Professor Sufia Ahmed. I have had many memorable fond memories of him. He could relate to people of all ages at a party or in a function. He could communicate with people at ease. He was a very witty, articulate and charming person. Barrister Ishtiaq was an institution, and an inspiration to many of us. He was a lovable person with great warmth. It is for sure that the nation will miss this remarkable man for years to come. Let us pray to Almighty Allah for the salvation of his soul and offer our deep condolences to the bereaved members of his family, National Professor Sufia Ahmed, Justice Refaat Ahmed, Dr. Raina Ahmed and his grand children. May Allah grant him eternal peace in Heaven.

Mesbah-us-Saleheen is Professor of Geography and Environment, Jahangirnagar University.