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Bokhary was born near Peshawar in the North-West Frontier Province of British India (today part of Pakistan). He served in the British Indian Army for four years as a logistics expert, and came to Hong Kong with the army on the first British ship after the surrender of Japan ended the occupation of Hong Kong. He briefly returned home to run a coal mine, but, fearing for his wife's safety during the independence of Pakistan in 1947, returned to Hong Kong with her and their first son soon after.
Career in Hong Kong
Bokhary began his career in Hong Kong managing a dockside godown, a position he found thanks to his army logistics experience. He received accolades and promotions for his ability to keep his workers happy, and his skilled handling of the growth in ship traffic resulting from the Communist Party of China's takeover of Shanghai. He eventually came to manage an entire wharf, and with his increased responsibilities, began taking night classes in accountancy at the University of Hong Kong. He retired from his wharf position in the 1970s.
For his second career, Bokhary went into day trading, and together with his elder son founded his own company, Bokhary Securities; he wanted to be his own boss, and believed that his religion and ethnicity would keep him out of managerial positions at the big financial corporations which then dominated securities trading in Hong Kong.
Outside of his work, Bokhary is engaged in various philanthropic activities. He pays for the upkeep of a mosque in his hometown in Pakistan, and also served as a treasurer on the council of the Diocesan Girls' School, an Anglican school, and on one occasion helped it out of financial difficulties. However, he prefers not to have any buildings named after him in return for his donations.
Bokhary holds Pakistani nationality. He is critical of the Pakistani government's corruption and poor governance, noting that overseas Pakistanis such as himself achieve successes which they could never match at home due to the lack of an environment which rewards hard work. When asked by a journalist whether he invested in Pakistan, he reportedly responded, "Having conversed with me for an hour, do you really take me to be such a damned fool?"
Though his career development has been limited by his ethnic background, Bokhary takes a philosophical attitude towards the discrimination faced by him and other South Asians in Hong Kong, and feels gratitude for being allowed to settle in Hong Kong. He also admonishes younger South Asian immigrants for their anti-discrimination activism, and suggests that they would feel less affected by racism if they focused more on learning about religion.
Bokhary's wife died in the 1970s. He formerly owned land in Peshawar near his hometown, but sold it when he realised that neither he nor his sons wanted to settle in Pakistan.
Syed Bagh Ali Shah Bokhary is Daoud Bokhary's eldest son. He inherited the brokerage business when Daoud Bokhary retired. Bagh Ali's daughter Amina Mariam Bokhary was notable for her legal problems in Hong Kong.
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