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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S. Ali Jafari: ‘Remembering Doc’

At a small private gathering last year, S. Ali Jafari, son of the famous satirical poet S. M. Jafari, read his essay “Remembering Doc”. His son Salman videotaped the reading, which forms the basis of this edited version. The essay in chaste Urdu humorously captures the spirit and idealism of progressive politics. It also contains observations about the art of listening, and conversing with civility and respect despite differences in opinion.

Dr M. Sarwar passed away peacefully at his residence in Karachi on 26 May 2009

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. Continue reading

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

‘Blood on the streets’

Journeys to democracy

Student mtg 1951 or 52 M. Sarwar addressing a meeting in Karachi, early 1950s, Khaliqdina Hall. Seated left: Rehman Ali Hashmi.

Looking back to look forward: The DSF-led movement of the 1950s eschewed party politics, was inclusive, and focused on student unity. Besides students from medical, engineering and and law colleges, it involved students from girls’ and boys’ high schools, and women’s colleges. 

Below, an extract from my forthcoming memoir on the struggle for democratic spaces in Pakistan. This is from the chapter about the student movement of 1953 that shook the country and laid the foundations for the University of Karachi, published in The Friday Times, Jan. 8, 2016. Thanks to Raza Rumi for pushing me to share this

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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

Candlelight vigil commemorates 1953 martyrs

Jan 2015-NSF vigil for 1953 martyrs

By Shahid Husain
The News International, Friday, January 09, 2015

The National Students Federation (NSF) held a candlelight vigil in memory of martyrs of 1953 students’ movement in front of the Karachi Press Club on Thursday. Continue reading

Appeal for medicines for free medical camps

Appeal from Democratic Students Federation:
DSF medical camp

Dear Friends/Comrades/Followers,

D.S.F Karachi Zone is holding free-of-cost Medical Camps in Shanti Nagar area and Nehru Goth, in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Karachi. For that friends and comrades we need your support and assistance in terms of Medicines, Volunteers and Funds if you are willing to donate for a social cause.

We require medicines for pain relief, diarrhea, first aid, and antiseptics – listing below some items needed for the medical camps in bulk quantity, or their equivalent, if you can arrange:
* PONSTAN * PANADOL * LEFLOX * FEXET * NIMS * FLAGYL * INTESTOPAN * DETTOL * BAND AID
We hope that the way you all came forth for Thar drought on our call, you will respond in a similar manner this time as well.

If you can help, please respond to:
+92-345-236-4701
+92-331-976-5452

D.S.F Karachi Zone

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