Dr Sarwar Jan2004 Old Ravians Association KarachiIrtiqa Institute of Social Sciences

Dr M. Sarwar: some of the many messages received after his passing away



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From Irtiqa Institute of Social Sciences, July 2009

Irtiqa letter

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Dr M. Sarwar – a few of the many messages received after his passing away:

Recognition and affection for him came naturally to him through his loving and friendly nature and people were attracted to him rather than being impressed or overawed by him. That is the sign of a great human being and a leader who doesn’t command respect due to his station or official position. Such a leader exudes a charisma due to his personal qualities. His leadership style was that of nurture through subtlety and love

Ali Jafari, Islamabad (complete write up at  – This Wonderful Doc)

It was with great sorrow that I learnt of Sarwar’s passing away. He was a lovely person and will be fondly remembered by all those who ever got to know him

Eric Rahim, Glasgow (see note ‘Idealism and hope’)

It’s amazing how in his understated way he left such deep impressions of his
personality and character, which are similarly felt and reflected by so
many.  Hard and ruthless politics of Pakistan dealt with such love and
tenderness of spirit. Hallmarks of great courage, clarity of insight,
empathy and nobility of commitment

Dr Hamid Jafari, New Delhi

He was truly a wonderful human being

Imran Aslam, Karachi

What a lovely, warm man!

Zohra Yusuf, Karachi

Sad to hear about Dr Sarwar. He was a man of uncompromising integrity and of high moral standards in a society which had already turned away from such values

Hameed Haroon, Karachi

A great man left great legacy

Nazir Mohammad, Islamabad

I am really sorry to hear about the passing away of Sarwar Bhai. I know he had not been well for quite some time but it’s still difficult to believe he is gone.

Zaffar Abbas, Islamabad

Have happy memories of chatting with him

Anand Patwardhan, Mumbai

Very, very saddened by the passing of Daktarsahab, whose calm and energising presence was like a beacon for me in Karachi. Zakia and you and Maha and the rest of the family will miss him terribly. The rest of society will do the same, because I think he exemplified the professional with strong values, who will never compromise on principles, but is not driven by the need for adulation and applause. He followed his calling but kept his vision clear. I feel that such individuals form the bedrock of society, including Pakistan’s, and keep it from being completely derailed. Many may not even notice it, but that is how it is. I was glad to know Daktarsahab in those brief but treasured moments with him, upstairs in the house with Zakia and you

Kanak Mani Dixit, Kathmandu

This is to let you and your family know that there are still a few left this side of the border who share the grief at the passing away of an old comrade from Pakistan

Jawed Naqvi, New Delhi

Somehow meeting Sarwar made me feel reconnected to not only him and his family and friends, but also with the whole world. I always found him reading books and intellectually alive and having a sense of direction about where the world was going. His laid back style and taking things in a stride put one at ease and made on forget one’s own troubles. He encouraged me to write, both in my student days and later when I started writing for the newspapers and occasionally took me to task for writing what he did not agree with. I don’t know whom can I turn to for that kind of support and frank advice now

S.M. Naseem, Islamabad (full note at ‘Greatness, humanity, inspiration’ )

His passing away (despite knowing the nature of illness) jolted us both in a manner which we had not anticipated. The amazing grit with which he fought till very last, redefined the very words, ‘grace and diginity’. But then, that is what great Sarwar was!

Drs Anwar and Abdullah Mangi (See complete note ‘Do not stand at my grave and weep’)

I met Sarwar on my last visit to Karachi last year at which time he was going through chemotherapy. Inspite of the grave diagnosis he was very calm and in good spirits. That was of course typical Sarwar. He would not lose his nerves even in the most trying circumstance… He had great compassion for his friends and foes alike. He would never stoop to low tactics in the student politics. He was a great Human Being

Dr. Asif Ali Hameedi, Chicago (see complete note at ‘In good spirits’)

I am happy I got to meet him and he let me hold a discussion at his house.

Saram Bokhari, producer of ‘Street Fighting Years’, DawnNews TV, Karachi

A sad day indeed. But I was lucky to have finally met the great man in his last days

Nadeem Farooq Paracha, Karachi

Dr M Sarwar was one of our great leaders of the youth

Farooq Tariq, Labour Party Pakistan, Lahore

He was a wonderful man and I have very fond memories of the too little time I spent with him

Martin Lau, London

Dr Saheb was a man I wish I had met again. But he’ll be with us in our thoughts, always

Asad Jamal, Lahore

Irreparable loss to family & friends. We have lost a great comrade. Lahore members of HRCP in its monthly meeting held on May 27, 2009 condoled the death of Dr. Mohammad Sarwar, father of Ms. Beena Sarwar, human rights activist and former member of Board and observed a one-minute silence

Zaman Khan, Lahore

Although I did not have the privilege of meeting him, he was an inspiration from what we knew about his selfless students’ activism during the ‘50s

Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, Pildat, Islamabad

No words to express my sorrow. We will all miss him

– Rubina Khilji, Peshawar

He was obviously very blessed to go in this exemplary manner

Tehmina Rashid, Lahore

Transition – Blessings

Kassim Punjwani, Houston

It’s a blessing to go in peace from your home rather than a hospital bed

Zahid F. Ebrahim, Karachi

Am so so thankful that he went peacefully. Will always remember him as the babba we grew up with

Shayan Afzal Khan (Poppy), Islamabad

It is shocking to know that Dr Sarwar is no more with yourself. We are with you at this moment

– Dr Khatau Mal, Mithi, Tharparkar

Dr Sarwar will always be remembered as a brave and principled man who was committed to progressive ideology all his life and was inspiration to many student activists. He was among the pioneer of left Student politics in Pakistan and he along with Hassan Nasir played highly significant role in turning NSF into a revolutionary Students organization

– ex-general secretary National Students Federation Pakistan Asim Ali Shah, ex-general secretary Punjab Ahmad Nawaz Watto, ex-president NSF Karachi Jaffar Rizvi, ex-president Dow Medical College student Union Dr Khalid Anwar and Dr Umar Daraz Khan, London

I remember meeting him briefly long time back. He was a very strong personality and disapproved of my beard in a not so subtle fashion ! : ) but I enjoyed a nightcap with him nevertheless

Farjad Nabi, Lahore

I can remember meeting him, early 1997, in your family home in Karachi, being fond of and playing with his granddaughter Maha. I hope and trust such will be her – and your – memories of him

Rob Vreeken, De Volkskrant, Amsterdam

Although long silences and the separation across vast distances can give the impression that old ties have been forgotten, this, for me, is certainly not the case with Sarwar Chacha. I cannot think of my childhood and all that was formative there without thinking of Sarwar Chacha. He was one of the close friends of my parents who had an enormous presence in my life. Quite apart from anything else I remember the all too many times he looked after me when I was ill and equally the times we would drop in to his surgery

–  Shamoon Zamir, King’s College London

Though I have not seen him in ages, I do remember him as this larger than life figure

Ayesha Kazmi, Karachi

He was indeed a much respected man who inspired many young people and earned admiration for his activism

Saffia Beyg and Friends of Sampurna, Karachi

Many like myself are beneficiaries of Doctor Sahib’s thought and work

– Dr Mohammed Taqi, Florida

I met Dr. Sarwar once and found his presence warm and profound.  I know most about him by the courage and meaning of friendship that I grew to know from meeting Beena and Sehba. May the wealth that knowledge and commitment to others leaves the world continue in his name

– Sandra Tarlin, New York

I just finished researching Dr. Sarwar for a memoriam we’re running in the Herald—his life and career were both inspiring

— Iman Sheikh, Karachi

I now especially wish that I had gone upstairs to say hello to him that night Pete and I were at your house in Karachi, back in early April

Ethan Casey, Seattle

I will always be glad to have known him and to have seen what love he inspired around him. It must be very hard for you to adjust to all of this, but you must also know what a joy it must have been to Sarwar to have you around him all through his illness and to have the easy going life of friendship and conversation and companionship around him in his own home

Andy McCord, New York

We have lost a great humanist, and we will always remember him with love.

Jamil Rashid, Kingston, Ontario Canada

A great loss not only for you and your family but for all of us

– Mazhar Abbas, Islamabad

This is indeed a sad, sad loss; Dr Sarwar and always felt a connection and affection for each other

Humaira Rahman, Canada

He lived a life that will keep inspiring many in our generation trying to carry on the struggle to which he had dedicated himself. Hats off to a life of commitment and struggle. He will live in our hearts. I am proud he did not forget me. At the same time, frustrated that I did not meet him last Nov when I was in Karachi. When I saw him on BBC Urdu later on, I thought next time I would plan better and do a long interview with him. But such is life

Farooq Sulehria, Labour Party Pakistan, Sweden

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.
~Edna St. Vincent Millay
My sympathies on the loss of a remarkable man –

Isa Daudpota, Islamabad

We share with your grief

Dr Mubarak Ali, Lahore

Dr Sarwar was a source of great inspiration to many of us. I have been a fan since I was a 12+ year old when he, just 22 himself, led a student movement against the government in Jan ’53

Zaheer A. Kidvai, Karachi

He leaves a fine legacy

Nalaka Gunawardene, Colombo

I’ll always remember him just like he is in this picture; wonderful and warm. I spent about half an hour with him that afternoon when no one else was home and we had a lovely and memorable conversation

Naween Mangi, Karachi

I met him only twice, but he left a real impression. What a fine man he was! He leaves a big vacuum which will be hard to fill

Dr Hashima Hasan, Washington

I remember Sarwar bhai as a relaxed and modern yet aristocratic individual with great style.  He was warm and hospitable. I can recall vividly the last time I met him, about six years ago.  Zakia apa took me to meet him at your home and I had lunch with both of them.  He was dressed in white and was his usual smiling, relaxed self

Farhan Mujib (Bilu), Aligarh

Dr. Sarwar, always a source of inspiration to all of us, will be missed, always

Arif Sayeed (eldest son of poet Suroor Barabankvi, a dear friend of Dr Sarwar), Kuwait

Uncle Sarwar was a father who was very close to his children and a man of vision. I personally remember him as a kind and welcoming presence who people love to be around. You are lucky to have had a dad like him

Zoha Gondal, New York

He will certainly be remembered with great fondness and respect…. “The Good Times” 🙂 and we had many of those in his company

– Bina Agha, Karachi

I was hoping to see Uncle Sarwar this July during my visit to Pakistan. I feel tremendous loss

Anila Agha

A good doctor, a great man and above all an excellent human being, Sarwar phuppa will remain alive in many memories, mine included…

– Sabah Hasan, Lahore

Shocked to hear this tragic news. I am leftist and journalist and was planning to meet Doctor sb and have an interview. But could not do so as i have no his contact

Sohail Sangi

I had met the kind old man just once, at your place, rather briefly.  He appeared frail but gentle, alert and at peace with himself. Deeply grieved, Shifa and myself extend our warmest respects to the departed soul.

Naeem Sadiq and Shifa Naeem, Karachi

Dr Sarwar remains a great inspiration to the leftist youth of our time, particularly for us–the DSF activists. Respectfully

– Imran Munir, Canada

My generation owes him a great debt of gratitude for the direction he gave to our student movement and later in the struggle for social justice for the people of Pakistan

– Hassan Gardezi, Canada

He was a legend in his life and will live on in our hearts and minds for as long as we are around

– Ahmad Faruqui, Bay Area

Thanks to Dr Sarwar I heard Mehdi Hasan perform live in one of his friends homes. In the bad old days of Zia

– Masume Hidayatullah, London

He has left a great example for his children and grandchildren in the way he contributed to the country and its people. SPELT owes him a debt of gratitude for the quiet support he gave it through your involvement

– Spelt working committee, Karachi

SPELT Islamabad organizers and the membership are paying great tribute to the unlimited services of Dr. Sarwar

– Khalid Mehmood, Newsletter Coordinator, SPELT Islamabad

After reading your article about Doc (This wonderful doc 2 -, I felt as if I actually met him in person. Now I know where your progressive genes come from…I actually always had this romanticized view of the heterodox Pakistan of 50s/60s…I always felt I belonged to that Pakistan, when your dad was a “student”…. I envy him for not only being around at that time, but also for what all he did for Pakistan; since my generation (the lost generation raised during Zia era) don’t have much to boast except apathy n growing intolerance…
May Pakistan, at least now in our lifetime, become a peaceful, pluralist, progressive and people’s country that Doc and his companions struggled for…

Shahvaar Ali Khan, Lahore

It sounds like he led an amazing life — you must be very proud of him. i hope that you are bearing up well. i still think about my ma often, I think the death of a parent is one of the things that one can never really prepare for, however old one is and however expected it might be

– Zafar Sobhan, Dhaka

Your father was a wonderful human being from the brief time I met him in Karachi, from what you told me of him and from what I read on your post. It is a blessing he went peacefully. It was so like my Dad’s passing away and almost at the same hour….

Mitu Varma, New Delhi

I did not get to chance to meet with him, but going through the various obit references in the Pakistani press it is apparent that he was a man of deep commitment who worked hard for the creation of humane and a just society

Sanjay Kapoor, Editor Hardnews, New Delhi

He was by all accounts a formidable man (in the best sense of the word) who definitely left his mark during his lifetime.  I am certain that you have many, many of his friends and admirers visiting, calling, and writing to tell you of their memories, celebrating his life

– Constance Colding Jones, Islamabad

It is sad to learn about the demise of your father! But at the same time it is so sweet to know that he has lived his life in style. The obituary note in the Dawn suggests that he has always strived for civil liberties. No wonder that you have inherited this legacy! You are so lucky to be the daughter of this wonderful human being. May God reward him for his services to humanity!

– Athar Parvaiz Bhat, Srinagar

Thanks for sharing details of a life so well spent

– Badri Raina, New Delhi

You never told us that your father was this, so…. much. Though we should have guessed that your activism must have initiated from such a background.

Nadeem Ayaz, Lahore

From your description he lived a full life and made his contribution to the Human Race

– Zahid Rajan and Zarina Patel, Awaaz Magazine, Nairobi, Kenya

He sounds like a great man and I am sorry I never had the chance to meet him

– Anthony Richter, New York

I don’t think I ever met him but he was clearly an extraordinary man and I can see, reading his biography, how he must have inspired your own commitment to similar causes – David Page, London
What a courageous and fine person he was. You are lucky to have had such a wise and dedicated father. With sympathy and appreciation

– Joseph Gerson, AFSC, Boston

It sounds like he had a wonderful life full of meaningful experiences

– Sanjeev Bery, Bay Area

You were truly fortunate to have such a man as a model in your life. As you know, it was not that long ago that my own father passed away, no comfort is quite enough to replace the loss

– Sanober Gul Unar, Editor, Bakhtawar, Karachi

He led a good and honourable life, raised a wonderful family and has after completing most of his life’s projects moved on. It’s a very painful time now for you but time to remember too what a wonderful life he had and that he left in peace

– Afsan Chowdhury, York University

His life reads like the kind of purposeful, brave and inspiring example that one should try and emulate

Osama Siddique, Cambridge, MA

You have been so fortunate… to be the daughter of such a great man

Sadia Bokhari

We need to celebrate his life and struggle

Marvi Sirmed, Islamabad

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8 Responses

  1. Your doing a great job keeping up our heritage!

    • Thanks for your comment – and your blog link, lovely work.
      If you are Karachi, please do come to the event on Jan 9, 2010 at the Arts Council (see blog home page for details).
      beena sarwar

  2. Dear Zakiaji and Bina,

    I was so glad to have found this blog. I was trying to get something on Faiz and I bumped into the blog on Mr Sarwar’s. Where I found all of you.

    Please come to India and give us an opportunity to take care of all of you.



  3. My several visits to Pakistan were never without a sitting with Dr. Sarwar. Unfortunately in 2009 when I met him was the last one. In those long years of association nothing much changed, he remained the same humble person fom the begining to the end. Now I feel what a gap he has left in our lives. Salahuddin, Sydney, Australia

  4. in 1953, I was a second year student of Government Commerce College, Karachi. I was not involved in students’ movements but my sympathy was always with DSF. That is when I heard about a student leader of Dow Medical college Dr.Sarwar, who was leading the protest. That name always remained with me.
    Though I never met Dr. Sarwar, I did take part in 1953 student procession and remember 8 students killed by police firing. During that march at one point during procession in Sadar, Karachi Mian Iftkar appeared and he gave a speech.
    i was unfortunate that i did not meet Dr.Sarwar, but my younger brother Salahuddin Ahmed who lives in Sydney, Australia always talked about Dr. Sarwar. It gives me a feeling that i have met Dr. Sarwar in sprit.

    Rafi Ahmed,
    The Woodlands, Texas, USA

  5. Dear Beena,

    This sad news brought back a flood of memories. Jail. Personal sacrifices. Broken families. Empty pockets. Political rallies. Tear gas. Whiskey. Poetry. Art.

    Look beyond, and even peel away the veneer of “isms,” at the very core Dr. Sarwar and his friends were idealists. They were driven by a deep sense of justice; by a deep sense of duty to a new nation and its people and by patriotism that wasn’t displayed with a flag on the car. Most of all, they were strongly committed to leaving behind for their children – you and I – something better than they themselves inherited.

    Today, when they look at Pakistan, they feel they failed. But heck they tried – with sweat, blood and tears.

    With respect,
    Hasan Jafri – Singapore

  6. Jafri sb,its never appropriate to accept failures,life is a continued struggle,even in hypothetical states,when you seem to acheive your goal,deteriorations,and maintainace require a constant vigil,nothing has failed,its just a transition. We the marxists,at least believe in this,we as doctors have our reasons too,as disciples of scientific methodolgy as well,why to lose hope,and let others crumble too, Dr.Sarwar and his companions were an inspiring lot of those who resisted,struggled,they have their inspired,and followers ones,dont worry,cheer up,we will not let his,and his comrades,and the predecessors,and followers fail,imagine Guevera,Bhagat,Hassan Nasir,dont follow,the depressed intelkacchooch`s,immersed in their new affairs with forces of “trickle down effects” or frank status quo. I hope,i have given you some hope.

  7. bright future social welfare organization badin sindh Pakistan working team mixed on male female on culture, health, education, environment,coordination with NGOs and INGOs. some female want to going for education and other member want to visit china on hospitality of chines and good freindship of chines leader kindly advice us how can serve the chines people with your cooperation thank
    D M

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