He exemplified the life lived well
It has now been a month, give or take a day or two, since one of the finest gentlemen you could’ve had the privilege to meet bid us all adieu and upped sticks into the unknown. His departure has left a particularly gaping hole in the social fabric of which he was a part, for during his time here Barrister Harun ur Rashid was the exemplar of a full life. Diplomat, author, columnist or raconteur - I was personally privileged to have observed him in each of these avatars from very close quarters. Perhaps that is what makes the hole he has left behind - taking all that wisdom he gleaned over the course of 8 decades in this world, all those experiences in diverse settings, all the words he kept pouring out right till the end - even more pronounced for me.
He remained a Dhaka Courier columnist, our go-to expert on foreign policy or international affairs right from its early days, until the very end it could be said. His last column in these pages (“Turkey buys weapons from Russia: A Surprise?”) appeared barely 5 months months before “old-age complications”, as the press release from the family said, finally got the better of that 100-watt smile that was in many ways his defining feature. A smile that could put anyone at ease with its full-on welcome and invitation to confer. He was a firm believer in every individual’s entitlement to be heard, and never strayed into the personal or absurd. He was too well-heeled, too polished, and too secure in his accomplishments (the list is too long, but see below) for that.
For now I’ll miss learning from him, miss reading him, miss laughing with him, understanding something of the world with him, and even miss his mere presence, for he was of that rare breed who by simply lending his presence, held the power to elevate a gathering. And they don’t make too many like him anymore.
Harun ur Rashid (b.1934) served as Director General (1976-79) and Additional Foreign Secretary (1986-87) in the Foreign Office of Bangladesh. He served as Bangladesh Ambassador to Nepal (1981-82), Australia (1982-84), the Philippines (1984-86) and to the United Nations (1987-1991), Geneva from where he retired. He joined the Foreign Office in Pakistan in the 60s. Later he was on deputation to the UN Secretariat in New York as a Research Fellow in 1969. He spent some time at The Hague Academy of International Law in 1969 prior to the UN assignment. He earned his professional degree of Barrister-at-law from the Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn, London in 1961, after having obtained a Masters degree from Dhaka University in 1957. He taught law in the Dhaka University and the Central Law College, Dhaka in the early 60s. After retirement he contributes weekly columns on foreign affairs to English-language dailies and weeklies in Bangladesh. These publications include Bangladesh Foreign Relations (2001), Indo-Bangladesh Relations (2002), Refugee Law (2000), The Diary of a Diplomat (1999) and International Law: Bangladesh Perspective. He was also columnist in leading English-language periodicals like the Daily Star and Dhaka Courier right till the end.