KARACHI: Progressive student leader remembered, June 1, 2009

Progressive student leader remembered, Dawn  – http://tinyurl.com/sarwar-pma-dawn

By Our Staff Reporter
Monday, 01 Jun, 2009 | 02:39 AM PST

KARACHI, May 31: Tributes were paid on Sunday to a pioneering former student leader, Dr Mohammad Sarwar, who struggled for the rights of students, workers and the downtrodden masses.

Friends and admirers of the late Dr Sarwar belonging to different walks of life, including law, engineering, literature and the fine arts, spoke of their association with the late general practitioner at a meeting organised by the Pakistan Medical Association at the PMA House.

Former Sindh Governor Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim, who as a young lawyer had defended Dr Sarwar and many of his comrades in the 1950s, said that Dr Sarwar founded the Democratic Students Union in the early 1950s because he felt students adopted the “politics of idealism”, and he also created a body that linked all students in other educational institutions in the city together, so that “principled politics could be strengthened in the newly born country”.

Unfortunately, however, first the DSF was banned and then succeeding governments banned student unions altogether for many years, Mr Ebrahim said.

He said that the “old leadership has failed and it is high time that a new leadership, believing in high ideals, emerges to lead the country and bring justice to society. He said equal rights for all must be ensured.

Mairaj Mohammad Khan said that Dr Sarwar was a “true progressive”, having a broad minded and secular way of thought, he “respected religion but was against this kind of interpretation of religion under which women were lashed and people were beheaded”.

Dr Jaffer Naqvi said that people could have a discussion with Dr Sarwar for hours and while they may continue to disagree with him, he would always listen attentively and was so tolerant that would never get angry or raise his voice.

In an interesting revelation, Arif Hassan said that the government had originally prepared a master plan of the city in 1951, with the proposed federal government buildings located opposite the university. When the DSF brought students into politics, however, and took to agitations and protests against the government, voices were heard in cabinet meetings calling for a change in the proposals, to relocate the federal government buildings. Eventually, he said, Ayub Khan moved the federal government apparatus over 1,000 kilometres away.

Aziz Tank, Samreen Hashmi, Badar Siddiqui and others also spoke while Arshad Mehmood, Tina Sani and Atiya Dawood recited poetry. A few documentaries on interviews and discussions with Dr Sarwar were also screened.

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