Dr Sarwar, the importance of civil discourse, and the art of listening

Ali Jafari-Jaspal

S. Ali Jafari reading his essay; Jaspal Singh in background. Video screen grab.

At a small gathering last year, S. Ali Jafari read his essay in Urdu about Dr M. Sarwar, whom he called “Doc”. His son Salman videotaped the reading, which forms the basis of this 14-minute video edited for 26 May 2019, ten years after Dr M. Sarwar passed away peacefully at home in Karachi, at age 79.

Son of the famous satirical poet S. M. Jafari, Ali Jafari’s essay in chaste Urdu humorously captures the spirit and idealism of progressive politics. It also contains critical observations about the art of listening, and conversing with civility, respect and humour without making personal attacks, regardless of differences in opinion.

Babba-Nathia-1995

The importance of civil discourse and the art of listening: An enduring lesson from Dr M. Sarwar. Photo: 1995, Nathiagali, by Beena Sarwar.

As a student at Dow Medical College, Sarwar led Pakistan’s first nation-wide student movement spearheaded by the Democratic Students Federation. The movement carries enduring lessons about the importance of unity and forging a one-point agenda for larger goals.

For more on Dr Sarwar, DSF and the student movement see the Dr Sarwar website.

There’s also this 30 minute documentary made after Dr Sarwar passed away, Aur Niklen.ge Ushhaq ke Qafle (There will be more caravans of passion), below, with interviews of people like Zehra Nigah, Saleem Asmi and Dr Haroon Ahmed. Here’s the link to a piece about it by Agha Iqrar Haroon: Ushhaq ke Qafley— A Documentary about the Power of Student Unions and Forgotten Chapter of Political Activism in Pakistan.

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DSF founding member Asif Hameedi passes on

Hameedi1DSF founding member, cardiologist Dr Asif Ali Hameedi passed away recently, aged 85 (see his remembrances of DSF and Dr Sarwar at: ‘In good spirits’ – from Dr. Asif Ali Hameedi, Chigaco) 

His first posting as a doctor after graduating from Dow Medical College was in Tharparkar. (Updated info: see his son’s detailed note below)

Dr Hameedi had been living in the US for many years, most recently in Grand Rapids, MI. He had diagnosed with throat cancer and had complications with diabetes. His wife passed away three years ago. They are survived by their three children, Samia Hameedi-Brown, Ashraf Hameedi and Jamal Hameedi. Continue reading

Dr. Ghalib Khan Lodhi (1930-2012) – A personal memoir by Eric Rahim

Eric Rahim

Former journalist Eric Rahim’s thoughtful obituary of Dr Ghalib Khan Lodhi, one of the founding members of DSF, who passed away in Karachi recently:

“Goodbye, generous friend, earnest and upright, seeker of knowledge”

Solas Educational Trust, supporting schools in Chitral, remains Ghalib’s most important legacy

Dr Ghalib Lodhi, London, 2001. Still from video footage by Beena Sarwar

Ghalib, who has recently died of cancer, was a founding member of the Democratic Students Federation and, along with Mohammad Sarwar, Hashmi, Haroon, Ayub Mirza, Yousaf Ali, SM Naseem and others, a leading activist in the early 1950s student movement in Karachi. I remember him as one of the most serious minded among his cohort. While a medical student, in his early twenties, he was trying to grapple with Das Kapital.

Along with so many others – students, journalists, writers, and trade unionists – he was arrested in the general round-up that took place in West Pakistan in the wake of the triumph of the United Front in East Pakistan elections of 1954 and Pakistan government’s decision to sign military pacts with the United States. Before his arrest he was acting as general manager of the organ of the Democratic Student Federation, the Students’ Herald. Naseem, who was the editor of the Herald, in a recent communication described to me the occasion of the arrest in the following words. Continue reading

RIP old comrade, Dr Manzoor Ahmed

Veteran progressive intellectual and an active member of Pakistan’s communist movement, Dr. Manzoor Ahmed of Shah Faisal Colony Karachi, died in Islamabad in the afternoon of January 15. He hailed from Allahabad where he attended University before moving to Pakistan. At the time of his passing away, he was about 82 years old, and had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia for several years. He belonged to the group of medical students of Karachi that laid the foundation of progressive students’ politics in the early fifties, and later led the left movement during the times of worst persecution of communist workers, for which he also suffered incarceration. The Communist Party had tasked him with organising labour unions and the association of medical professionals. At one time, he was the vice-president of National Awami Party, and president of Karachi NAP.

(Thanks to Dr A.H. Nayyar for this note)

Reference for Dr Ayub Mirza, Sept 26, Bradford

Received from Parvez Fateh:

South Asian Peoples Forum is holding a Condolence Reference to pay homage to the late Dr. Ayub Mirza, former President Pak-China Friendship Association, former President PMA (Pakistan Medical Association),  prominent Progressive Writer, biographer and Revolutionary Politician

You are cordially invited to please join us and pay glowing tributes to the dear departed.

Date: Sunday, September 26th 2010
Time: 3.00 to 5.00pm
Venue: Touchstone Center, 23 Merton Road, Bradford BD7 1RE

Speakers/ Contributors:
Rahat Saeed –  Deputy General Secretary Progressive Writers Association Pakistan
Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza –  Progressive activist and son of Dr Ayub Mirza
Prof. Nazir Tabassum –  Progressive Writer, SAPF UK Activist
Mohammad Ajeeb –  Former Lord Mayor Bradford, SAPF UK activist
Coll. Ghazanfer Khaliq –  Former Lord Mayor Bradford, SAPF UK activist Continue reading

Dr Ayub Mirza passes on

Sad to hear that Dr Ayub Mirza passed away this morning. His daughter Alina Mirza, writes from  Glasgow:

He had another heart attack and collapsed. The doctors tried to resuscitate him but he had gone. He went peacefully and did not suffer. The last few days with him were a bonus for all of us.The love and affection shown by all of you helped him to recover from his initial illness. I used to read all the e-mails that you sent everyday to him and he would smile remembering the old days with his friends.

Mum is staying with Sarmed and their contact no is +44-141-4236534 [h], +44-7859897840 [M].

Dr Ayub Mirza update

Dr Ayub Mirza (right) at a PMA meeting in Pindi

Dr Ayub Mirza, a leading figure of the 1950s’ student movement and DSF, a life long friend of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and author of Faiz’s biography ‘Hum Keh Thehray Ajnabi‘, has been seriously ill in Glasgow where he lives.

Good news from Eric Rahim: “Ayub is feeling much better. Initially he was in intensive care; three days back he was transferred to coronary care. Last night’s report is that he was feeling better, had had a meal and was sitting in chair. I am hoping to see him this evening and will write.”

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