Memories of an unassuming Marxist

Published in The News on Sunday, Feb 19, 2012

Memories of an unassuming Marxist 

The progressive movement of Pakistan has lost one of its best sons in the death of Dr. Manzoor Ahmed

By Shahid Husain

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Video links: “Looking back to look forward”

Finally managed to convert and upload the video of the inspiring event held on Jan 9, 2010 to commemorate Dr Sarwar and the 1953 student movementtotal of 16 clips, featuring great speeches, music, poetry and people –
Click here for photos and report of the event

Video footage by Sakhawat Ali, tel 03012712659, Karachi.

DSF documentary complete, with subtitles

Aur Nikele.nge Ushhaq ke Qafilay (And there shall be more caravans of passion – Faiz), 30 min, produced by Beena Sarwar, directed by Sharjil Baloch.

Finally managed to update our documentary on the Democratic Students Federation with new visuals (thanks to the talented and committed K.B. Abro) and subtitles in English. We are grateful to all those who supported the making of this 30-minute archival film, including old stalwarts of DSF who shared their insights, experiences and memories, especially S.M. Naseem whose valuable archives of the Students’ Herald provided the basis of much of the research, and Dr Haroon Ahmed, Mazhar Saeed, Saleem Asmi, Iqbal Alavi, Shahida Haroon, Mazhar Jameel, Mirza Mohammad Kazim who also participated in the film. Zehra Nigah and Nauser Messman who as young students were not part of the movement but still vividly remember and shared their impressions of the events that shook the nation.

In recent weeks we have showed the documentary at Kuch Khaas in Islamabad and at The Second Floor in Karachi. Various people would like copies to show at different events, including Jan 8 commemorations coming up in Karachi and perhaps also Islamabad. We’ll be happy to share the documentary with them.

What always crops up during discussions of DSF is the point made in the documentary that DSF kept the student movement independent of Communist Party politics although many were members and sympathisers. As Iqbal Alavi explained after the showing at T2F yesterday, this allowed them to build a broad base that even included Muslim League, Jamat-e-Islami and Islami Jamiat-e-Tulaba affiliated students – even though the agenda and the ideology were clearly CPP, as Sheema Kermani rightly commented later.

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.”

Learning from history in an age of bombs

Title of documentary ‘Aur NikleiN Ge Ushhaq ke Qafley’ (Design by K.B. Abro)

NOTE: Much of the research for this article was done for a documentary on the 1953 student movement directed by Sharjil Baloch, that I produced, for the event we held at the Arts Council Karachi on Jan 9, 2010, ‘Looking back to look forward’. The 30-min documentary title ‘Aur NikleiN Ge Usshaq ke Qafley’ (And there shall be more caravans of passion) derives from a poem by Faiz. This article was published in the website Pkonweb on Jan 8, 2010 (a revised and updated version of an earlier piece in the ‘The News on Sunday’, Dec 27 2009. A shorter version was published by the academic journal iWrite in its Jan-Feb 2010 issue).

Looking back to look forward

Commemorating Pakistan’s first nation-wide student movement that embodied student unity, cutting across political, class and ethnic divisions for a common cause: students’ rights … Continue reading

‘Youth to celebrate student movement of 1953’

The News, Saturday, January 09, 2010

By Shahid Husain


In the death of Dr Mohammad Sarwar on May 26, 2009 the progressive and democratic movement in Pakistan lost one of its best sons. He was equally loved by veterans such as Sobho Gianchandani, Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Syed Sibte Hasan and youngsters who frequented his residence in Clifton.

Born in Allahabad, UP, India, in 1930 Dr Sarwar was studying for a BSc in his hometown when he, along with a group of fellow students, came to Pakistan in 1948 “to see what the new country was like,” and decided to stay for good.

Dr Sarwar graduated in 1954, a year later than he was initially supposed to graduate, because fellow students asked him to stay for one more year so that the All-Pakistan Students Organisation (APSO), which was established in 1953, could be set up properly.

I remember we would visit his clinic in Firdous Colony in Nazimabad in late 1960s to collect funds when National Students Federation (NSF) launched a protest movement against military dictator Gen. Ayub Khan and he was always generous. In fact he handed over his entire day’s earnings to us and we made it a point to visit his clinic late so that we may get more fund.
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