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)

Another Hasan Nasir Day in Karachi

Hasan Nasir Shaheed: An inspiration for progressive politics

Communist Party of Pakistan, Karachi Committee invitation: Hasan Nasir Day

Monday, Nov 29, 4.00 pm, PMA House, Karachi

Dr Mazher to preside

Speakers include: Imdad Qazi, Justice (rtd) Fakhrudin G. Ebrahim, Wahid Bashir, Nasir Mansoor, Hassan Nasir, Dr Humayun Bashir, Dr Habibur Rehman Soomro, Dr Nisar Shah, Iqbal Alavi, Manzoor Razi, Fareed Awan, Ayub Qureshi, Khursheed Abbasi, Mrs Ilmia, and Sania Saeed.

Performance by Sheema Kermani

Remembering Comrade Hasan Nasir

 

Hasan Nasir Shaheed: An inspiration for progressive politics

50th death anniversary of Communist Party Pakistan leader Comrade Hasan Nasir

Tortured & killed by military regime Nov 13, 1960

Commemorating his life and struggle at

Karachi Press Club, 3.00 pm, Nov 14, 2010

Organised by Awami Party Pakistan

Yusuf Khattak

Tel. +92-301-288930045

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

Barkat Alam – an old comrade passes on

Barkat Alam001_2

Barkat Alam. Photo courtesy Barkat Alam's family via Eric Rahim

From Eric Rahim in Glasgow:

Dear Friends,

I bring you the sad news of the death of Barkat Alam in the early hours of this morning (Saturday, the 10th of October). Barkat had been seriously ill for some months now and the end was not unexpected. I was with him last night, but he was unconscious and the doctor told me that he would probably go during the night. Najma, his wife, and daughter Sabaa were with him when he passed away peacefully.

Barkat joined the Karachi student movement of the early 50s (and the Party), along with Mohammad Shafi and Saghir Ahmad, while still at school. All three of them played an active role in the movement. Many friends from that time will remember him with affection, a quiet, unassuming, serious-minded young man.

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Karachi communists in the early 1950s: a contribution to the ‘Sarwar Reference’ by Eric Rahim

Eric Rahim: A journalist and activist remembers

Eric Rahim:A journalist and activist remembers

In celebrating the life of Dr Mohammad Sarwar, many of his friends and student and political activists have recorded their memories and experiences from the period of the early 1950s. As far as I can tell this is the first time that so many people from the Left have come together (physically or in their thoughts) to pool together their memories from that period – a period of hope and optimism – about the future of democratic politics in Pakistan. What could be a better tribute to Sarwar’s outstanding contribution to the student movement and democratic politics?

The random and disconnected notes that follow, drawn from a hazy and failing memory of events that took place almost sixty years ago, are a contribution to the Sarwar Reference. Very broadly speaking, they deal with two related issues that have received only marginal attention in the contributions made so far – the presence of the Communist Party in Karachi, and the causes of the inability of the student movement to sustain itself beyond the early 50s.

Continue reading

‘Dr Sarwar and the 1950s student movement’ – 2004 posting

I just found this on my group email list posted Feb 26, 2004 reproduced below.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/beena-issues/message/434

‘Dr Sarwar and the 1950s student movement’

A good background to the fledgling 1950s student movement in Pakistan and how it was crushed. On Black Day – Jan 8, 1953 – police opened fire on a peaceful student demonstration in Saddar, Karachi. Seven students were killed and several more were arrested, including my father, Dr Mohammad Sarwar. Personal circumstances including the death of his elder brother, the journalist Mohammad Akhtar, led to his giving up the activism, but I still come across people who still remember his dynamic leadership. Personally, he’s my most exacting critic, best analytical source, and most reliable babysitter for my daughter.
beena

—–
Daily Times, Pakistan, Jan 8, 2004

Students for whom the bell tolls

By Shahid Husain

KARACHI: January 8, 1953 is a milestone in the students’ movement of Pakistan when peaceful students of the then capital city of Karachi were fired upon by police. Seven people were killed and 59 were injured. But the student movement led by Democratic Students Federation (DSF) succeeded in getting most of their demands accepted including the establishment of the University of Karachi at its new campus. The movement influenced the people across the country and its echo was also heard in the relatively more politically conscious elements in the then East Bengal.

Unlike today when students are divided on the basis of ethnicity and sectarianism, the January 1953 Movement encompassed all democratic students and its main demands were reduction in tuition fees, opportunities of scholarships to relatively poor students, improving the condition of hostels and establishment of Karachi University at a new campus to ensure that more students acquire higher education, according to Dr. Mohammad Sarwar, who was the president of DSF, the leading force behind the movement.

In an exclusive interview with Daily Times here at his residence, he recalled that a group of some 25-30 students convened a meeting at Karachi’s Dow Medical College (now university) in early 1950s and later assembled in a small hotel in Arambagh and decided to form a students’ organization, which was named as Democratic Students Federation. Mohammad Sarwar was made the convener of the newly formed organization. Amongst those who made the historic decision to form a democratic and secular students’ organization included some of the very bright students, many of them making a niche in their professional life in later years. These included Dr. Khawaja Moin Ahmed, Dr. Syed Haroon Ahmed, Dr. Adeeb-ul-Hasan Rizvi, Dr. Ghalib, Dr. Mohammad Yousuf, Dr. Safdar Ali, Dr. Ayub Mirza and Dr. Rahman Ali Hashmi.

“We then contacted fellow students in other colleges and started membership in DJ Science College, S. M. College, Urdu Law College, S M Law College, Islamia College, Government Women’s College and other educational institutions and got a very good response,” he said.

The students’ movement was brewing in Karachi in the backdrop of growing population of the city as a result of influx of refuges from India amid poor infrastructure and inadequate facilities in the domain of health, transport and education.

“In 1947, the Karachi became the capital of the new state of Pakistan. Bureaucrats, government employees, semi-government institutions all moved to the city and new organizations were established to meet the needs of the new state. In addition, over 600,000 refugees from India also moved into the city increasing its population by more than 161 percent in a period of 10 years. The refugees occupied all open spaces and the city center, the military cantonment and public buildings. This migration changed Karachi completely,” according to noted town planner and architect Arif Hasan. It was the growing problems of the capital city, which paved the way for a glorious students’ movement.

In 1951 a convention was held at Theosophical Hall and the manifesto of DSF was drafted and demands put forward for the betterment of the student community. It is absolutely wrong to say that the Communist Party of Pakistan had anything to do with the formation of DSF, Dr. Sarwar said. However, there were progressive students in the fold of the newly formed organization, he added. DSF also launched a fortnightly journal Students Herald, which started its publication in 1951 and was edited by S. M. Naseem, he said. He went on to say that the standard of Students Herald could be gauged from the fact that it bagged the best fortnightly award in Poland from the International Union of Students. The government in July 1954 banned Students Herald in the wake of growing relationship with the United States.

Referring to the popularity of DSF, he said it emerged victorious in the elections in almost all the important colleges of Karachi in 1952. Then it opted to form an Inter Collegiate Body (ICB) that along with DSF played a vital role in students’ politics.

After failing to pursue the university authorities to listen to their grievances, the ICB and DSF tried to meet the education minister Fazlur Rahman but that was thwarted by the right-wing vice chancellor of the university A.B.A. Haleem who established a bogus students group and conveyed to the education minister that he had already met the aggrieved students and there was no need for the minister meets them. This made the students angry who gave a call for a “Demands Day” on January 7.

Dr. Sarwar recalled that a big meeting was held at DJ Science College from where the students decided to go to the residence of the education minister Fazlur Rahman at Kutherey Road in the form of a procession but the authorities imposed Section 144 and made it clear that procession would not be allowed. The students, however, were firm to take out a procession and they did succeed. However, when the procession reached Frere Road from police resorted to lathi charge (baton charge). But the students were undaunted by this cowardly act. And continued their procession. They were tear-gassed when the procession reached Elphistone Street (Now Zaibun Nisa Street) and again near the Karachi Club. The police also arrested many student leaders who were ultimately released amid pressure from the agitating students.

On January 8 the students again gathered at DJ Science College and decided to take out a procession against the highhandedness of the police. As if the brutalities of the previous day were not enough, police resorted to firing near Paradise Cinema and a number of students were killed, including a minor. On January 9 Karachiites observed a strike against police brutalities. In fact, the government imposed curfew for a few days, Dr. Sarwar said. But the impact of January Movement was such that the government of Khawaja Nazimuddin had to accept most of the demands of the students.

“We toured the Punjab, NWFP and East Pakistan culminating in the formation of All Pakistan Students Organisation (APSO) on December 25, 1953. The popularity of the new organization was such that one of its student leader defeated seasoned politician Nurul Amin in the elections,” he said.

In May 1954, the government in the wake of growing tilt towards the US banned DSF, APSO and the Communist Party of Pakistan. Many student leaders including Dr. Sarwar Dr Ghalib, Jamauluddin Naqvi, Ayub Mirza, and Students Herald editor, Syed Mohammad Naseem were arrested and sent to jail.

“The January students movement was the first major movement that focused on democratic issues, especially those concerning students and youth. Its impact on the people of Karachi indeed on the people of Pakistan was electrifying and soon the students of other cities and provinces joined the movement. The then Prime Minister Khawaja Nazimuddin accepted all the major demands of the students after about a week. What I remember is that tuition fee was decreased, in some cases by 50 percent and in other cases even more than that,” said Prof. Jamaluddin Naqvi, one of the of leaders of January 1953 Movement

(ends)

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