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.


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.

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 –  http://www.youtube.com/p/A7510E99FB0730E2?hl=en_US&fs=1
Click here for photos and report of the event

Video footage by Sakhawat Ali, tel 03012712659, Karachi.

Street Fighting Years – series on student politics by Saram Bokhari, DawnNews TV, 2009

This post contains links to a recent five-part series on the history of student politics in Pakistan, produced by Saram Bokhari on Dawn News TV. While the entire series is worth watching for the wealth of information and insights it contains, Episodes 4 and 5 (links below) are based on a discussion with Dr Sarwar and others at his residence in April 2009 (the producer was unable to get hold of Dr Sarwar before starting the series). This was Dr Sarwar’s last interview. He was hospitalised a few days later. He passed away peacefully at home on May 26, 2009 with his characteristic grace, courage and dignity.

Episode 1 – The ’50’s and the ’60’s, featuring interviews with Meraj M. Khan, Fatyab Ali Khan and Munawwar Hasan.
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SENB3KWeHUo
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSWKGQZBSd4
Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOUyGDid_bM

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