Pakistani doctors in America: continuing a legacy of progressive student activism

Poet Fehmida Riaz with Dr Naseem Shekhani of NHF at the launch of the Urdu English Medical Dictionary in Karachi, Dec 31, 2010

Anyone interested in healthcare in Pakistan – check out and support National Health Forum (NHF), a registered tax-exempt organisation in America initiated by a group of Pakistani doctors, many of whom were activists with the progressive National Students Federation (NSF)in their student days.

Screengrab of NHF website

The causes they have taken up include maternal care, child cancer (working to build a children’s cancer hospital) and helping flood survivors in Pakistan through the Pakistan Medical Association. They also support non-profit organisations in USA in the healthcare and medical education sectors. I love that Dr Sher Shahis listed in their website as one of the ‘projects’ they support (if you don’t know who he is, you should. Look him up). Another project, and a great success, is the launch of the much-needed Medical Urdu-English Dictionary. The informative website includes links to PDFs of their reports). Also do check out and ‘like’ the NHF facebook page. 🙂

‘Looking back to look forward’: event videos now online

A play list of 16 clips from ‘Looking back to look forward’, the three-hour long event held in Karachi on Jan 9, 2010 to commemorate Dr Sarwar and the 1953 student movement. Click this playlist link to see a list of all the clips. Clickable in chronological order below: Continue reading

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.

POETRY AND POLITICS: Jyoti Basu, Fehmida Riaz, Khushwant Singh, Badri Raina

This post is not directly relevant to the student movement that Dr Sarwar was involved with but it does involve people close to his heart – he admired Jyoti Basu and followed politics in West Bengal keenly, enjoyed reading Khushwant Singh, was close to Fehmida Riaz, and I read out Badri Raina’s poetry to him while he was in hospital in April 2009, which he liked. Posted to Journeys to Democracy yesterday:

Prof. Badri Raina <badri.raina@gmail.com> sent this heartfelt tribute to Jyoti Basu, the veteran Communist leader of West Bengal, on the night of Jan 17 – which is how I learnt of Basu’s demise. Over to Badri Raina: “a humble tribute with a heavy heart”

Jyoti Basu

Jyoti Basu

As I write, you seem set
To bid adieu—
Your life’s work more than done.
We would be truly greedy
To ask more of you.

What man walked so straight
And for so long
With a single thought in mind—
To do what you could
For fellow men and women
At the end of the line.

For the complete post, including Fehmida Riaz’s poem sent to Badri Raina, at this link.

“Students Movement leaders remembered: Revival of student activism termed must for reshaping society” – PPI report

Rahat Kazmi listens to Alia Amirali's fiery speech. Photo by Sakhawat Ali

PPI report by Azhar Khan

KARACHI, Jan 10 (PPI): In order to bringing positive, deep and lasting sociopolitical changes in Pakistani society it is necessary that students should play their due role and mount pressure on the policymakers through their activism to focus on the burning problems faced by our society and its people. For this purpose it is a must that student unions should be strengthened and their elections held on urgent basis.

This was said by speakers of a moot here on Saturday evening at Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi to pay rich tributes to the martyrs of “Students Movement 1953”.

This historic student movement was launched by Dr. Mohammad Sarwar, which played an important role in strengthening the leftist student movement in Pakistan.

Hundreds of students and civil society members attended the moot and paid rich tributes to the martyrs of “Students Movement 1953”. They also paid rich tribute to Dr. Mohammad Sarwar, who they said was the core catalyst for the formation of Students Unions for the first time in Pakistan. Continue reading

Photos: ‘Looking back to look forward’

‘Looking back to look forward: celebrating the 1953 student movement
Click the image above to access photos from the events of Jan 9 & 10, held in Karachi to commemorate the 1953 student movement and its activists.

‘Looking back to look forward’ – amazing turnout, thanks everyone

Rahat Kazmi introducing speakers - photo by Aliya Nisar

What an amazing response to ‘Looking Back to Look Forward – Celebrating the 1953 Student Movement’. (‘…we look back not to revel in nostalgia, WE LOOK BACK TO LOOK FORWARD,’ said veteran journalist Eric Rahim in an email while we were conceptualising the event).

We didn’t think we’d be able to fill the 1000-seater hall. Everyone said “be happy if 500 people turn up”. The hall was FULL, thanks to the energy and enthusiasm of the volunteers and participants – students and youngsters from Sindh Awami Sangat (huge team of volunteers and a crowded bus-load of participants), Szabist University, Ziauddin Medical College, PECHS Girls’ School (thanks to Seema Malik, 150 students who formed the heart of the audience and kept up the tempo with their youthful energy), and other groups.

Fehmida Riaz recites 'Palwasha muskura' - photo by Aliya Nisar

View of the audience with PECHS Girls School students - photo Aliya Nisar

“It’s not just the event, it’s the timing of the event that’s important,” said Hiba Ali Raza, one of the student volunteers. “At a time when things look so bleak, and people are so depressed, this was very significant”.

Many had come expecting the usual 200-300 crowd of old lefties with a sprinkling of the young ones. Instead, we had a hall full of young people, boys and girls, students and young professionals who listened attentively to the speakers – Continue reading

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