Former DSF activist Dr Ghalib Lodhi makes a quiet exit

Dr Ghalib Lodhi (left) in London, with Dr M. Sarwar, April 2001

Karachi, Aug 3, 2012: Tahir Wasti in London emailed recently that Dr Ghalib Lodhi expired in Karachi. I contacted some of Dr Ghalib’s old comrades. None of them had heard of his demise.

“Shocked and saddened to learn the demise of our friend, and comrade in arms. I am ashamed that despite knowing his address and phone number I did not call him for last two months,” responded Iqbal Alavi.

He subsequently visited Dr Ghalib’s sister Zahida Shamshad in Karachi to condole and learnt that Dr Ghalib breathed his last on July 4 2012, at 5 am,at Agha Khan Hospital and was laid to rest in the graveyard at Dalmia Cement Factory Area.

Ms Zahida Shamshad told Iqbal Alavi that Dr Ghalib’s flat is locked and will be opend after the death certificate is received. She does not know if there are any manuscripts in his files. He had wanted his books to be donated to the libraries of Karachi University and SIUT.

Dr Ghalib Lodhi was one of the founding members of DSF, and had been suffering from throat cancer, because of which his speech box had been removed and he could not speak when he attended the Reference for Dr Rehman Ali Hashmi held at SIUT on March 13, 2012.

I met Dr Ghalib only once, when I was in London in 2001 studying for my MA TV documentary – he cooked lunch for us when my parents were visiting. I took along a video camera for practice and got Tahir Wasti (then studying for his PhD) to hold the microphone. It was an interesting discussion, during which it seemed Dr Ghalib’s views (though he spoke little) had diverged somewhat from those held by his old comrades Dr Yusuf and Dr Sarwar.

I heard later that he had moved back to Karachi, to devote his life and resources for the less fortunate. I think he came over to the house once to visit my father, and later I caught glimpses of him at the Reference held for Dr Sarwar at PMA on May 31, 2009, and later in the ‘Looking Back to Look Forward’ event held to commemorate DSF, at Arts Council Karachi on Jan 9, 2010.

Below –  responses from some former DSF activists, shared via email on hearing about Dr Ghalib’s passing away:

Dr Haroon Ahmed: “I am not surprised that he made a quiet exit. The last time we (I and Adeeb Rizvi) travelled the last stop of an underground towards east London, decades ago and had long chat with him. At that time he was in a deep philosophical period of transition. I am privy to long theoretical letters he used to write to Mir Rehman Ali Hashmi.  Since then I have heard and met him occasionally at Dr Rehman Ali’s lab or residence, but never able to provoke him into a discussion. The last time I could say hello was at a Reference for Dr Hashmi organized by Adeeb at SIUT. He was probably had atrachiostomy. Though he remained secluded for long but recalling old days, he was a real revolutionary.” (Read Dr Haroon’s tribute to Dr Hashmi at this link)

Eric Rahim: “I am saddened to hear about Ghalib’s death. He seems to have died some weeks ago, but those who have announced his death seem to have learnt of it only within the last couple of days. As you know he was one of the old comrades, from the same batch as Sarwar, Naseem, Hashmi, etc., and enjoyed government hospitality in Karachi jail in 1954. ..I think I can say that I knew him better than most. When I came to London in 1958 he was already there – to my great astonishment I ran into him in University College where we both were students. He was a great help to me during my student days in London and when in, 1963, I moved to Glasgow as a university lecturer he stayed with us for two years to study for MSc in biochemistry. He was by temperament a bit of a recluse, but we always kept in touch with each others, and I was a constant recipient of his missives and monographs containing his philosophical views – attempt to recocile the existence of God with modern science. Around the year 2000 he asked me to set up a charity (with the £100,000 he had saved) to promote education, etc. That I did and have been its convenor since its establishment. The charity – Solas Educatinal Trust – has since helped a number of community (non-profit) schools in Chitral…”

S.M. Naseem, former editor Student Herald: “I am greatly saddened to hear about Ghalib’s death. I last met him in Karachi at a memorial for Hashmi organised by Adib Rizvi at SIUT, after many decades. He had lost his voice and we could hardly communicate, except through visible emotions and through his sister.
“My association with him was through DSF and the Student’s Herald, of which he was de facto business manager — arranging for funds, publication and distribution of the paper. The day we were both arrested, 23 July 1954, I had gone to meet him at his hostel to discuss how to arrange for the publication of the next issue. We were having tea in the restaurant on the ground floor of the hostel, when the CID Inspector, Hashmat, who had often shadowed us, came over to our table and told both of us, ‘You are under arrest’. We asked him to let us finish the tea and some biscuits we had ordered. He let us do that before transferring us to the police station where about a dozen others who had already been picked up from various locations. Next day, we were transferred to Karachi Central jail, where a much larger group was awaiting us and in whose company I spent the next few months. I did not get to interact much with Ghalib in Jail, but he remained a good friend and his laughter was always infectious and reverberated in the barracks.
“After our release, most of the students went back to studies and to pursue their respective careers. I hardly met Ghalib in Karachi again and perhaps once or twice in London and once in Islamabad.
“He left a deep impression on me as a thoughtful, sober and somewhat complicated person. I heard of stories about his changing his career from medicine to genetics to anthropology from Ayub Mirza and from Eric Rahim.”

— Beena Sarwar

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