Ex-civil servant, social activist Tasneem Siddiqui laid to rest

The funeral prayers of former top civil servant and social activist Tasneem Ahmad Siddiqui, who had passed away from a sudden cardiac arrest at the age of 82 early on Saturday morning, were offered in Karachi on Sunday.

His Namaz-e-Janaza was offered at Tariq Masjid in Clifton, following which he was laid to rest in the graveyard of DHA Phase-VIII. As a civil servant, Siddiqui had served in several important positions, including chief secretary in the Government of Sindh, director general of the Excise & Taxation Department, and the DG of the Sindh Katchi Abadis Authority.

In addition to being a senior board member of the Peoples Primary Healthcare Initiative, Siddiqui headed the Saiban–Action Research for Shelter, a non-profit organisation working on developing housing projects for low-income groups. He also authored a number of books and articles on governance and social change.

Zahid Farooq, the Urban Resource Centre’s joint director who had worked with Siddiqui closely, said that after his retirement from the civil services in 2005, he had chosen to work on Katchi Abadis (informal settlements).

“Siddiqui is known for conceptualising the Khuda Ki Basti (God’s Own Settlement) projects in Kotri (Jamshoro), Ghagar and Surjani Town in Karachi, and Kala Shah Kaku near Lahore,” Farooq told The News.

He said that Siddiqui also reinvigorated the Sindh Katchi Abadis Authority, a government cell that is dealing with their informal settlements and low-cost housing schemes. Born in 1939 in Meerut, India, Siddiqui migrated to Pakistan in 1947 and received his early education in Sukkur. He later pursued his master’s degrees in political science and English literature at Hyderabad’s University of Sindh before joining the civil service in 1965.

In 1983, he also pursued a Master in Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School. His services as a government servant were acknowledged by the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award of the Philippines government and a Sitara-e-Imtiaz in 1999.

Published in The News 31 January 2022

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