Awaaz Tells The Story Of Burney's Humanitarian Struggle, In His Own Words

"The memoir recounts Burney’s multi-decade fight against the use of child camel jockeys in the Middle East, which produced not one but two HBO documentaries"

Awaaz Tells The Story Of Burney's Humanitarian Struggle, In His Own Words

Subsequent to writing this review, Awaaz’s first print had already completely sold out. Once a fresh reprint had been delivered to the Ansar Burney Trust’s office, the offices were set on fire! The new reprint as well as everything else in the office was completely burned down. Someone had been trying to cut the offices phone lines during the previous week. No other offices in the building were affected by the fire, which gutted the Trust office. Someone clearly was not happy with what Ansar Burney has revealed in this book!

I was glued to the page while reading Awaaz, Ansar Burney's autobiography, documenting his life’s work – spanning the period from his birth to becoming a student leader, and eventually championing human rights around the world. I haven’t finished a book this quickly in a long time! It’s a tremendous page-turner, full of action and tremendous story after story. Written by Burney, and co-written/edited by Shehar Bano Rizvi and Tasneem Premjee Chamdia, Awaaz shares Burney's lifelong global struggle for human rights.

I’ve known the name of Ansar Burney since my school days in Karachi in the 1980s; he is a name not unlike Abdul Sattar Edhi, Mother Theresa, Dr Ruth Pfau, and similar God-conscious people on Earth. What I only realized after reading this book, however, is that Burney has never been far from controversy, for obvious reasons. The arson that just enveloped his Trust offices only goes to underscore that.

Awaaz is written in Burney Sahib’s own personable voice. It portrays his stories as if you are sitting with him in his living room and he is sharing his life narratives. What an incredible example this man sets for the rest of us on how a considered life should be spent! Burney has freed nearly 1 million unlawfully detained people from captivity. The book should inspire a new generation of Pakistanis to follow his pathbreaking example.

Jailed due to being a student leader for the PSF in the late 1970s, Burney witnessed lamentable prison conditions in Pakistan. The wretched conditions and inhumanity that he saw led to his advocating for the rights of prisoners. He established the Ansar Burney Trust in 1980, which confronted exploitation despite threats to his life. A trained lawyer, Burney worked his whole life to address injustices. Burney has won over 250 awards throughout his journey, including Outstanding Young Person of the World Award, Mother Teresa Memorial Award, Sitara-e-Imtiaz and Hilal-e-Imtiaz.

"After spending a lifetime in the service of humanity and raising my voice for human rights, I have learned that everything that I have done has been because of God's will. I have served God by serving humanity, His creation. At times powerless to help a detainee, but always at the 11th hour, someone would come forward to help and join hands for the cause,” said Burney, Chairman of Ansar Burney Trust. “This book also has happened in a similar way. I can't explain how Shehar Bano, and her friend Tasneem came together to write this book with me. I just want to thank them for their relentless effort in helping me share my story."

The memoir recounts Burney’s multi decade struggle against the use of child camel jockeys in the Middle East, which produced not one but two HBO documentaries – first in 2003 and then in 2018. Awaaz highlights Burney’s challenges, relationships, and encounters with renowned humanitarians.

The author was made Pakistan's first Minister of Human Rights by President Musharraf, and then went on to be a UN Expert Advisor on Human Rights. The stories in this book will captivate the reader, as they share both successes and vulnerabilities, and offer valuable insights for anyone in the humanitarian field, or on a journey of personal growth.

The author is planning to make a feature film and documentary based on the book.