These non-Muslims from Pakistan make us proud to be Pakistani
Pakistan is a nation of over 180 million people, both Muslims and non-Muslims. Often times, we tend to put emphasis on Muslims who made Pakistan proud. There’s no denying the contribution of Muslims to the cause of Pakistan, however, it’s time we celebrated the non-Muslims of Pakistan who represent the white stripe on our flag.
Here are just some of the most important non-Muslims from Pakistan who have immense contributions toward this country:
1. Group Captain Cecil Chaudhry
First among the non-Muslims of Pakistan is the famed Group Captain Cecil Chaudhry. He was an academic, human rights activist, and veteran fighter pilot who has fought in the Indo-Pakistani war of 1965 and later, as a Squadron Leader, in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. He was awarded the Sitara-e-Jurat.
2. Ardeshir Cowasjee
Ardeshir Cowasjee is a leading philanthropist, businessman and columnist based in Karachi. He was the Chairman of Cowasjee Group and is engaged in philanthropic activities apart from being regarded as an old ‘guardian’ of the city of Karachi. He was a leading figure among non-Muslims in Pakistan.
3. Indu Mitha (née Chatterjee)
Indu Mitha is a Pakistani exponent of Bharatnatyam, a form of Indian classical dance. She is also a faculty member at the Rawalpindi campus of the National College of the Arts.
4. Deena M. Mistri
Deena M. Mistri was an educationist from Pakistan. She started teaching English to the secondary classes at the B.V.S. in 1951. She was the first lady teacher to teach the secondary classes during those days. Mrs. Deena M. Mistri served the Bai Virbaijee Soparivala Parsi High School for 55 years.
5. Byram Dinshawji Avari
Byram Dinshawji Avari is a prominent Pakistani businessman and twice Asian Games gold medalist. Together with his sons, Dinshaw and Xerxes, he owns and operates the Avari Group of companies, of which he is the chairman.
6. Anil Dalpat Sonavaria
Anil Dalpat Sonavaria was the first Hindu ever to play test cricket for Pakistan. Dalpat was a lower-order batsman and wicket keeper who represented Pakistan for a brief interval in the early 1980s as a replacement of Wasim Bari. Among non-Muslims from Pakistan he made us proud.
7. Antao D’Souza
Antao D’Souza is a former Pakistani cricketer who played in six test matches from 1959 to 1962. He was the fourth Christian to play test cricket for Pakistan. He was a medium pace bowler and tail-end obdurate batsman.
8. Aban Marker Kabraji
Aban Marker Kabraji, Pakistan’s leading environmentalist, is working as Regional Director IUCN, World Conservation Union. In this position, she is overseeing IUCN in 23 countries of the region. Among non-Muslims from Pakistan, she is a pride.
9. Arthur Nayyar
Arthur Nayyar, known popularly as A Nayyar, is a leading Pakistani playback singer. He was one of the most popular singers of our film industry in 70s and 80s. He sang many ghazals and geets for Pakistan Television and earned much acclaim.
10. Anthony Theodore Lobo
Anthony Theodore Lobo is a Pakistani Roman Catholic bishop. Bishop Lobo has made important contributions to education in the country. In recognition of his services to the cause of literature and education, the President of Pakistan conferred on him the President’s “Pride of Performance ” Award in 1990.
11. Bapsi Sidhwa
Bapsi Sidhwa is a renowned novelist and published author of Pakistani origin who writes in English and is resident in America. She has previously taught at the University of Houston, Rice University, Columbia University, Mount Holyoke College, and Brandeis University.
12. Danish Prabha Shanker Kaneria
Danish Prabha Shanker Kaneria is a Pakistani cricketer who continued the tradition of great Pakistani leg spin bowlers and possesses a very well disguised googly. In test matches, Kaneria holds the record for most wickets by any Pakistani spin bowler and fourth on the list of most test wickets overall, only behind Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Imran Khan.
13. Irene Perveen
Irene Perveen was a Pakistani playback singer from the 1960s, who mainly sang for Pakistani films; she started her career in 1958’s film Noor-e-Islam. Parveen sang many hit songs for films, and made quite an impact in the East Pakistani Industry too.
14. Jagan Nath Azad
Jagan Nath Azad was a renowned Urdu poet, writer and academician. A literary giant, Azad penned over 70 books, including poetry collections, epic poems, biographies and travelogues. He is also accredited with writing Pakistan’s first national anthem at the request of Quaid-e-Azam.
15. Jamshed Nusserwanjee Mehta
Jamshed Nusserwanjee Mehta was the first elected Mayor of Karachi and remembered as the “Maker of Modern Karachi”.
16. Jamsheed Kaikobad Ardeshir Marker
Jamsheed Kaikobad Ardeshir Marker, Hilal-e-Imtiaz is a veteran Pakistani diplomat. He is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as having been ambassador to more countries than any other person. He speaks English, Urdu, Gujarati, French, German, Russian and was Pakistan’s top envoy to the United States and more than a dozen other countries for more than three decades.
17. Jogendranath Mandal
Jogendranath Mandal was one of the central and leading Founding Fathers of modern state of Pakistan. He served as the country’s first minister of law and labor, was the second minister of commonwealth and Kashmir affairs.
18. Chief Justice Alvin “Bobby” Robert Cornelius
Chief Justice Alvin “Bobby” Robert Cornelius, Hilal-e-Pakistan, was a Pakistani jurist and judge, serving as the 4th Chief Justice of Pakistan from 1960 until 1968. Alvin Robert Cornelius became the first Christian Chief Justice, making him one of the most famous and influential figures ever to serve on the supreme court.
19. Julius Salik
Julius Salik is a Pakistani Christian and activist for minority rights based in Islamabad. In 1996, he founded the World Minorities Alliance to advocate for the social status of minorities.
20. Minocher Bhandara
Minocher Bhandara, was a Pakistani businessman, minority representative and member of the National Assembly. He was the architect and owner of one of the most successful and durable business conglomerates in Pakistan. Amongst his companies was the Murree Brewery, which his father had bought controlling share of in during the 1940s.
21. Michael James Nazir-Ali
Michael James Nazir-Ali was the 106th Bishop of Rochester in the Church of England; he retired in September 2009, taking up a position as director of the Oxford Centre for Training, Research, Advocacy and Dialogue. He holds dual citizenship of both Pakistan and Britain.
22. Raja Tridiv Roy
Raja Tridiv Roy was a former Raja of the Chakma tribe in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region of Bangladesh who chose to remain a Pakistani when Bangladesh was created in 1971. He was also a writer, Buddhist religious leader and politician in Pakistan. He served as ambassador of Pakistan to Argentina from the 1980s.
23. Mr. Justice Retired Rana Bhagwandas
Mr. Justice Retired Rana Bhagwandas, a highly respected name of the Pakistani judiciary, was a senior judge and former acting chief justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan (CJP).
24. Justice Rustam Sohrabji Sidhwa
Justice Rustam Sohrabji Sidhwa was a former judge on the Supreme Court of Pakistan as well as one of the original eleven judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
25. Sunny Benjamin John
Sunny Benjamin John, popularly known as S. B. John, was a noted singer who started his singing career from Radio Pakistan in 1950.
26. Satish Anand
Satish Anand is a leading Pakistani filmmaker, distributor, media personality and businessman. His distribution offices, Ever Ready Pictures, operate in Karachi and Lahore making him one of Pakistan’s top film distributors.
27. Jharna Basak
Jharna Basak, known as Shabnam, is one of Pakistan’s most famous film actresses. Shabnam was active in the Pakistani film industry, Lollywood in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, and in the Bangladeshi film industry in the 1990s.
28. Clement Shahbaz Bhatti
Clement Shahbaz Bhatti, popularly known as Shahbaz Bhatti, was a Pakistani politician and elected member of the National Assembly from 2008. He was the first Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs from November 2008 until his tragic assassination on March 2nd 2011 in Islamabad.
29. Gertrude Lemmens
Sister Gertrude came to be described as the “Mother Teresa of Pakistan.” In recognition of her work for the homeless, the needy and the handicapped, on March 23, 1989 she received the Sitara-i-Quaid-i-Azam (Order of the Great Leader) from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
30. Sunita Marshall
Sunita Marshall is a famous Pakistani model and television actress.
31. Wallis Mathias
Wallis Mathias was the first Goan Christian to play for Pakistan. Born in Karachi, Wallis played 21 tests for Pakistan from 1955 till 1962. He was a middle order batsman who often engineered critical innings but is most remembered as a brilliant slip fielder.
32. Air Commodore Władysław Józef Marian Turowicz
Air Commodore Władysław Józef Marian Turowicz was a prominent and noted Polish Pakistani military scientist and aeronautical engineer. He is considered as one of the chief architects of the Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan’s space program.
33. Comrade Sobho Gianchandani
Comrade Sobho Gianchandani was a Pakistani Sindhi social scientist, and revolutionary writer. He was the first non-Muslim and non-Urdu recipient of the Pakistan’s top literary Kamal-e-Fun Award (for 2004), which is given every year to an eminent writer in recognition of his lifelong achievements in the field of literature.
34. Justice Dorab Framrose Patel
Justice Dorab Framrose Patel was a Pakistan jurist, and lawmaker who served as a former senior judge of Supreme Court of Pakistan and former Chief Justice of Sindh High Court. Justice Patel was a prominent campaigner for the human rights, the founding member of the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in 1987 and the co-founder of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
35. Dr. Ruth Katherina Martha Pfau
Dr. Ruth Katherina Martha Pfau is a German born nun and a member of the Society of Daughters of the Heart of Mary who has devoted the last 50 years of her life to fighting leprosy in Pakistan. Sister Pfau received the Nishan-i-Quaid-i-Azam and Hilal-i-Pakistan award for her work with leprosy patients.
36. Harcharan Singh
Harcharan Singh is the first Sikh officer to be recruited in the Pakistan Army.
37. Hugh Catchpole
Mr. Hugh Catchpole was one of the most distinguished educationists who taught generations and left an indelible mark on his students. On 15 June, 2007, then President of Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf conferred upon Mr Catchpole the highest civil award of Pakistan, “Hilal-i-Imtiaz,” for his incomparable, selfless and single minded dedication to the cause of quality education in Pakistan.
38. Hilda Saeed
Hilda Saeed is a well acknowledged and respected women’s rights activist, educationist and journalist. She has represented Pakistan on many international forums.
39. Colin David
Colin David was one of the most prominent contemporary artists of Pakistan who was most famous for his figurative nudes. David was awarded the President’s Pride of Performance Award in 1995 and he’s a pride among non-Muslims from Pakistan.
40. Shallum Asher Xavier
Shallum Asher Xavier is a Pakistani guitarist, composer and music producer. He has been recording professionally for 15 years, and has played as a session musician and recorded with most of the renowned Pakistani mainstream artists including Ali Haider, Najam Shiraz, Zeb and Haniya,Hadiqa Kiyani, and Strings. Xavier has been awarded Best Guitarist of Pakistan 2 years running, as well as an award for Best South Asian Band and Best Composer for his composition of Khamaj.
41. Jimmy Engineer
Jimmy Engineer is an internationally acclaimed artist and humanitarian who has exhibited his work across the globe. He uses his art to promote the message of peace and tolerance while at the same time spreading a positive image of Pakistan. A recipient of Sitara-e-Hilal, Pakistan’s third highest civilian honor for his outstanding contributions to art and charitable causes, Jimmy continues his passion for making this world a better place through his artistic and humanitarian initiatives.
42. Mr. and Mrs. Ghanshayam
People who lived in Karachi in 1960s and 70s fondly remember Mr. and Mrs. Ghanshayam who ran a classical dance school and taught many students; some of them rose to become leading performers. Ghanshayams were forced to leave Pakistan in early 1980s when the then military government targeted classical dance practitioners making it impossible for them to earn a decent living. Both husband and wife were students of Uday Shankar, the pioneer of modern Indian dance and we miss these non-Muslims from Pakistan who made our country a better place.
43. Naveen Tajik
Naveen Tajik was one of the finest television actresses from the 1970s. Besides television plays, she also appeared in movies and made a name for herself. Her career came to an end when she quietly left show business and moved out of Pakistan permanently 🙁
44. Perin Cooper Boga
Perin Cooper Boga is a veteran of theatre in Pakistan. Her association with Kinnaird College Lahore, where she nurtured theatre, drama and dance, spans over half a century. The college produced many prominent theatre and drama practitioners including Yasmin Tahir, Madiha Gauhar, Shamim Hilaly, Naveed Shehzad, Muneeza Hashmi etc. As an acknowledgment of her services, Kinnaird College named its amphitheatre after Perin Boga.
45. Dr. Faridoon Sethna
Dr Faridoon Sethna is one of the most respected and eminent gynecologists in Pakistan currently serving as Chair and Medical Director of Concept Fertility Centre. He’s served as Medical Superintendent of Lady Dufferin Hospital Lyari for a number of years. Among his many patients was former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
46. Dr. Mira Phailbus
Dr Mira Phailbus became the first woman in Pakistan to be be appointed as Ombudsman. She was given the charge of Punjab’s Ombudsman in March 2013. A prominent educationist, Dr Phailbus remained as Principal of Kinnaird College for several years. She also served as Minister for Education and Minority Affairs in Punjab Government. She one of the non-Muslims from Pakistan who makes this country better.
47. Dr. Alexander John Malik
Dr. Alexander John Malik, has been the longest-serving Bishop in the history of the Anglican Church of the Subcontinent. After serving for 32 years as Bishop of Lahore, he retired in Sept 2014. Dr Malik got his Master’s degree from McGill University, Canada, and his Doctorate of Divinity from Wheaton College, USA. While studying at the Islamic Research Center in McGill University, he worked on his PhD thesis based on the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He is a strong advocate of interfaith harmony and has devoted his life to the cause and he’s a non-Muslim from Pakistan who makes us proud all over the world.
48. Mani Sheriar Contractor
Mani Sheriar Contractor was a prominent educationist who served at Karachi’s Mama Parsi School for over five decades. Her tenure at the school lasted from 1936-91, where her last 17 years were spent as Principal of the school. Her countless students spread all across the world remember her fondly for her total devotion to education, learning and character-building.
49. Louis John Pinto a.k.a. Gumby
Louis John Pinto, better known to all as ‘Gumby’, is one of the most recognized, accomplished, and respected music artists in the Pakistani music industry. Gumby is perhaps the most recorded musician in the country, considering he sits in on recording sessions with a wide range of bands and artists; artists such as Kaavish, Jal, Mekaal Hasan Band, Ali Azmat and Zeb & Haniya are just to name a few.
50. Deepak Perwani
Deepak Perwani is an internationally acclaimed Pakistani fashion designer and a recipient of several awards. Deepak is recognized as one of the top designers and recently created the world’s largest kurta. According to Perwani, “the kurta is an intrinsic symbol of Pakistani attire, and (this garment) has successfully put it on the global map. A kurta represents the essence of what we are and defines our individuality in today’s world.” The world’s largest designer kurta will later be used to create smaller kurtas that will be donated to children’s homes run by the Edhi Foundation, a Pakistani NGO.
51. P.K. Shahani
P.K. Shahani, known popularly as PK, was a leading politician, analyst, agriculturist, economist and historian. He served twice as an elected public representative. He was elected to the Sindh Provincial Assembly (MPA) in the early 70’s during the People’s Party government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He was also a PPP MNA in the short-lived National Assembly of 1977.
52. Squadron Leader Peter Christy
Peter Christy served as a B-57 Navigator and flew a number of successful operational missions in 1965. For his personal example and complete devotion to duty, he was awarded Sitara-i-Jurat.
53. Wing Commander Mervyn Leslie Middlecoat
Wing Commander Mervyn Leslie Middlecoat was a Pakistan Air Force fighter pilot who was involved in a number of aerial battles during the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pakistani wars, before being shot down on 12 December 1971. Declared missing in action, he was posthumously awarded a Bar to the Sitara-i-Jurat. His remains were never found. The aviator King Hussein of Jordan wrote to Middlecoat’s widow stating that his death was a personal loss for the King, requesting to bury him with the Jordanian national flag under his head if he was to be wrapped in the Pakistani flag. Middlecoat had fought for the King earlier during the Six Day War with Israel.
54. Air Vice-Marshal Eric Gordan Hall
Air Vice-Marshal Eric Gordan Hall was a Pakistan Air Force bomber and fighter pilot, and former director general of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). A two-star general in the Pakistan Air Force, Hall had served as Vice Chief of Air Staff and was one of the distinguished pilots who participated in the Indo-Pakistan wars of 1947, 1965 and 1971.
55. Air Commodore Nazir Latif
Air Commodore Nazir Latif SJ and Bar was a one-star general officer in the Pakistan Air Force and a former director-general of the Operations and Plans at the Air Headquarters, Islamabad. Bill had always wanted to be a fighter pilot and joined the Pakistan Air Force soon after the independence of Pakistan in 1947. In 1958, he was promoted to Wing Commander as Air Marshal Asghar Khan assumed as Chief of Chief of Air Staff of the Pakistan Air Force.
56. Zoe Viccaji
Pop sensation Zoe Viccaji has been playing guitar and writing her own music since the age of fifteen. She has written mostly English songs during her career, but is now shifting her attention to Eastern and Urdu material. Zoe spent the early part of her career as a painter, but soon realized that music was her true calling. She also acted in a few musicals abroad and two musicals ‘Mama Mia’ and ‘Chicago’ in Pakistan, soon after which she was asked to come on board for Coke Studio’s house band as a supporting vocalist. Soon enough, she went from being a supporting vocalist to a leading singer.
57. Framroze H. Punthakey
Framroze H. Punthakey was one of the pioneers of advertising industry in Pakistan. In the advertising community, Mr. Punthakey was an exacting and demanding professional for whom excellence was a byword. He turned many of those who worked under him into the kind of professionals who were able to establish their own agencies. His major clients were Beecham Pharmaceuticals, Engro Fertilizer, Excide Batteries, KLM, the Boeing Company and Johnson & Johnson. A crusader in the cause of democracy, Mr Punthakey was a staunch supporter of civilian rule and a life-long supporter of the Bhutto family and the Pakistan People’s Party.
58. Jack Britto
Jack Britto was a Pakistani Olympic hockey player. He attended Saint Patrick’s High School, Karachi where he was one of the star hockey players. He went on to play for Pakistan’s National Hockey Team, where he played right half; he later represented Pakistan in the Helsinki Olympics of 1952.
59. Benjamin Sisters
Benjamin Sisters were a Pakistani singing group of three sisters, Nerissa, Beena and Shabana Benjamin. They participated in various music learning programs aired on Pakisan Television from 1968 to 1987. The sisters later achieved further fame after the release of the patriotic national songs of Pakistan. Among the non-Muslims from Pakistan, these sisters shine bright.
60. Major General (Retd) Kaized Maneck Sopariwala
Major General (Retd) Kaized Maneck Sopariwala was the first Parsi to rise to the position of a Major General in Pakistani Army. A 1986 graduate of US Army Command and Staff College, he was awarded Hilal-e-Imtiaz (Military) by then President Musharraf in 2002. Non-Muslim officers in Pakistan Army, like him, are the pride of this country.
61. Joseph Marie Anthony Cordeiro
Joseph Marie Anthony Cordeiro was the first Pakistani cardinal. From 1946 to 1948, he did pastoral work in Hyderabad and Karachi. He then went to Oxford from where he returned in 1950 with a Master of Arts. He was also mentioned as papabile by Time Magazine after the death of Pope John Paul.
Roger David, better known by his stage names Bohemia, Raja and The Punjabi Rapper, is a Pakistani American Rapper and music producer from California who’s originally a non-Muslim from Pakistan. He Raps in Punjabi and describes himself as “The King of Punjabi Rap” and “the pioneer of Desi Hip Hop” and the “creator of Punjabi rap”. Bohemia quickly gained popularity with his independent debut album, Vich Pardesan De [In the foreign land] hitting Top 10 on BBC Radio UK in 2002. The following album, Pesa nasha pyar [Money, intoxication, love] became the first full-length Punjabi rap album released by a major label in history. It brought Bohemia increased popularity, including his recent multi-record deal with music label Universal Music Group [2006 – 2009]. This brought his creation of “Punjabi rap” to mainstream recognition, making Bohemia pioneer of a new genre of music known as Desi Hip Hop or ‘Desi-rap’.
63. Norma Fernandes
Norma Fernandes is an outstanding educationist who taught for over 50 years before retiring as a teacher in 2009. On 14 August 2013, the Government of Pakistan announced that it would honour Mrs. Fernandes on 23 March 2014 with the Tamgha-i-Imtiaz for her services to education.
65. Mary Emily Gonsalves
Among the non-Muslims from Pakistan who make us proud is Mary Emily Gonsalves. She’s a Roman Catholic nun from Karachi, Pakistan. On the 23 March 2009, the Government of Pakistan awarded Sr. Emily the Sitara-e-Imtiaz which she received from the Governor of Sindh in recognition of her services to education.
66. Zeeshan Labh Masih
Zeeshan Labh Masih is an inspiring man who achieved his dream despite adverse circumstances. Masih came from a poor family where both his parents worked as street sweepers. They, however, wanted the best for their child and despite all obstacles, provided him with an education. With his hardwork and dedication, Masih appeared in Punjab’s Public Services Commission Exam and after successfully passing it, he was appointed as a District Judge. His successful appointment spread a wave of happiness and joy in his community where he became the first person to have risen to this level.
67. Rev. Dr. Khushnud Mussarat Azariah
Rev Azariah is the first Pakistani woman ordained to priesthood. Azariah was also the first Pakistani woman ever to attend seminary, though she could not do so in Pakistan. She’s the founder of Darul Musarrat and Darul Khushnood, which are special education centers. We are proud of non-Muslims like her from Pakistan who shine bright internationally, within their religious communities.
68. Emmy Minwala
Renowned dancer Emmy Minwala was introduced as a dancer by M.J. Rana in Sabiha-Santosh starrer Sohni (1955). The film had lilting music by Feroze Nizami. Later, Emmy dances became the necessary ingredients of many Pakistani Films and she along with other dancers including Rakshi, Neelo, and Panna dominated the Pakistani film scene for nearly 2 decades.
69. John Permal
The fastest man in Pakistan, John won national and international events for running. Among the non-Muslims from Pakistan John Permal’s contributions went largely ignored because of the unfortunate combination of him being a minority as well as a non-cricket playing sportsman. The state has rarely patronized sports and arts and people like John remain largely unheard of.
Know any other non-Muslims in Pakistan who are making your community proud? Let us know about them so we can add them here.
This list was originally compiled by Pakistani-American, Junaid Zuberi on Facebook.
Cover image via: cscr.pk