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Remembering Arif Raja

Nazeer Chaudhry

September 16th, 2017



Punjab University, New Campus has started a pilot program of B.A honors in some subjects and I was one of the first students to join that program in 1968.

Arif Raja, Shuja ul Haq, Muhammad Shahid and myself among others, were admitted to Philosophy as our major subject.

I was new arrival in Lahore and was temporarily staying close to Ichra Moor with one of my cousins. I was looking for a room in one of the newly constructed hostels. There were only four hostels for boys and one for girls back then.

On my first day of class, I met Arif Raja and other classmates. I found Arif and Shuja to be very interesting and vibrant.

Arif came from Cadet College Pataro and had an armed forces background.

Very intelligent, enthusiastic and bright eyed idealist wanting to take the life by the horns and change the world. His optimism was contagious.

I was talking to him one day that I need a room on the campus because I was staying with my cousin.

He said that we will take care of the issue next Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Arif talked to me after class and said that I should not leave campus and that we have a plan to go and meet some people in the evening regarding my room in the hostel.

In the evening, we walked through the fields to Gulburg to Prof. Ejaz ul Hassan’s home to a Tuesday group meeting. The issue of my room in the hostel felt very trivial at that very highly intellectual gathering. I did not understand a single word said at that meeting. That day Arif Raja recruited me into the “cause”. We had a wonderful three years together. Arif was the only one among us who had a gun and knew how to use it. We talked a big game of armed struggle but without ever even thinking of learning to operate a weapon.

Arif Raja was extremely courageous and very bright. In our discussions, he always took lead and never shy away from a fight.

We were often beaten up by the goons of Islami Jaamiate Tulba but because of radical and brave students like Arif Raja that was the only period in the history of the University of the Punjab that we had Jaamiate on the run.

I moved overseas and lost contact with Arif but he was never far from my thoughts. On my last trip to Pakistan, I made it a point to see Arif. I invited him to a reception giving to me by a friend of mine to Lahore.

Arif was not well. I think he suffered from high blood pressure but we were able to catch up. We had a wonderful time that evening. Prof. Aziz ul Din, was also there among other friends.

I am glad that I was able to see him after so many years.

My great friend and mentor is not with us anymore but he will live in our hearts as long as we are alive.

May his soul live in peace for eternity.


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