Remembering the historic January 7 student movement

DSF poster Jan 2016Message from DSF: In memory of the great struggle and demands day led by the then Democratic Students Federation of 1950’s, the present cadre of Democratic Students Federation Sindh is holding a program to highlight the achievements of that struggle and movement. Please join us on 9th January 2016 5.00pm at Railway High School, Kotri, Hyderabad. The program will be marked with speeches from student activists, trade unionists and Political activists – DSF secretary.

Remembering the historic January 7 student movement – by Shahid Husain in The News, Jan 6, 2016. Text below: Continue reading

PMA condemns colleague’s murder | Dr Baqir Shah

31st December, 2011

Press Release
PMA CONDEMNS COLLEAGUE’S MURDER

The Pakistan Medical Association, Karachi has strongly condemned the brutal murder of Dr. Baqir Shah, Police Surgeon, Quetta while performing his official duties. The reason for his killing is obvious: that he was the key witness of the Kharotabad incident. He had conducted the post-mortem examination of the victims and had given the factual version that the victims had died due to the indiscriminate firing of the LEAs and not due to an explosion.

If truth is going to be silenced in this manner how can justice prevail? The government did not provide him any security inspite of the fact that an earlier attempt had been made on his life. How can the government function if it fails to protect its own functionaries? How will other medico-legal officers react to this incident: will they not be afraid to give their fair and factual finding in such cases?

The PMA calls upon the Government to hold an urgent judicial and arrest the perpetrators of this heineous crime. The PMA also urges the Chief Justice of the Balochistan High Court, who is a very able and upright Judge, to take suo moto notice of this incident to ensure that those who help in the attainment of Justice are not silenced in this manner.

Dr. Salamat Kamal
Vice President
PMA, Karachi

Chronology: 1950s’ student movement (DSF, ICB, APSO)

DJ college gathering

Jan 8, 1953: Thousands of students gather at DJ College for 'Martyrs Day', to protest the Jan 7 police firing and tear gas shelling. Photo courtesy Sartaj Alam, a student and amateur photographer, Student Herald.

1948 – Sarwar joins Dow Medical College

1949 – Students hold small meetings to organise themselves (Sarwar, Hashmi, Zain Alavi and others).

1950 – Dow students form Democratic Students’ Federation

1951 – Students from Karachi colleges get together to form the Inter-Collegiate Body (ICB)

October 16, 1951: Liaquat Ali Khan assassinated in Rawalpindi; Governor General Khawaja Nazimuddin takes over as second Prime Minister of Pakistan, Ghulam Muhammad becomes Governor General.

Oct 17 1952 – ICB letter to Education Minister Fazlur Rahman requesting audience so they could place student demands before him (fee reductions, monthly fee structure rather than six month deposit, library and hostel facilities – and security of employment).

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Jan 8, 2010 – ‘Students’ Day’; Nov 13, Hasan Nasir Day

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A rare photo of Hassan Nasir

Note: Photo of Hasan Nasir courtesy People’s Democratic Front (PDF) and National Students’ Federation (NSF)

Oct 12, 2009: Email sent to several old friends and family members of Dr Sarwar, as well as some younger activists and others.

Over the past month, following the references at Karachi and Lahore, a small informal group has come together in order to take forward the legacy of Dr M. Sarwar. Updates following our last discussion followed by notes from the meeting:

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Setting the record straight on DSF (2008 article by Dr Haroon & Saleem Asmi)

A slightly abridged version of this article was published in Dawn as Student movement revisited, April 5, 2008

Scan from front page of Student Herald 'Martyrs Number', Vol. 1, No. 5, Jan 19, 1953

Scan from front page of Student Herald 'Martyrs Number', Vol. 1, No. 5, Jan 19, 1953

Setting the record straight

Democratic Students Federation: The first all-Pakistan student body

By S. Haroon Ahmed and Saleem Asmi

The welcome move by newly elected Prime Minister Yusuf Reza Gillani to revive student unions takes us back the first all-Pakistan students’ body, the Democratic Students Federation, which laid the foundations not only for the progressive outlook of the National Students Federation (NSF) but also the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA). The DSF is often either ignored or misrepresented in most accounts of the history of the students’ movement in Pakistan, like the article ‘Students politics: a brief history’ (Dawn Magazine, February 10, 2008) which otherwise included excellent thumb-nail sketches of student unions. At this critical juncture of Pakistan’s history, there is a need to set the record straight regarding the DSF.

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Barkat Alam – an old comrade passes on

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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.

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