‘What he started will never die’ – Dr M. Ayub Mirza

In Memory of Dr M. Sarwar

Dr M. Ayub Mirza

Dr Sarwar was a great man and a wonderful friend. When, in the early 1950s, we were both at Dow Medical College we helped to found a students organisation. Later, we founded the All Pakistan Students Organisation. I remember very well an incident from those early times. Sarwar made a speech in the Medical Students’ Hall, the first political speech to have been made by a student in that college. This was an incredibly courageous act in those times. We had written the speech together, sitting in his elder sister’s house (Sadiqa – Mrs Dr Waheeduddin) where Sarwar had been staying at the time.

Within a few days, five other students had joined us, and gradually, we grew. Unfortunately, previously, all the students had had to commit themselves, in writing, to not forming a political entity on the premises of the college. We got round this by forming the Students’ Organisation, in a restaurant on the nearby Bandar Road and holding meetings there! We did not talk politics in the student hostel, because we didn’t trust the staff. We would write and rehearse speeches together. We were communists. Eventually, the majority of the students came to support us.

Our activities became known to the college authorities and the Principal was very angry. Both Sarwar and I were threatened with expulsion, and this created uproar in the College, with both students and – albeit confidentially – even some staff members declaring their support for us. The students threatened to go on strike.

Later, as is well-documented, on account of the political situation in Pakistan, we also went to jail together. We’d been sentenced to a year in prison, but street protests led to our early release.

Dr Sarwar was a very great friend of mine and in the most positive sense was a real gentleman. I know that he was a dedicated and caring physician. We kept in touch until I left Pakistan in the early 1990s. I am deeply saddened to hear of his passing and I offer my sincere condolences to his wife and family.

What he started will never die.

Transcribed from an oral interview,

Glasgow, Scotland,

August 2, 2009


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