Keep the fire burning – by Zakia Sarwar

End note, written for the Jan 9, 2010 booklet commemorating DSF, at Karachi Arts Council – an event that gave hope to many.

By Zakia Sarwar

Forty seven years of sharing pain and laughter together… I find it difficult to say even a few words for this great event in which Sarwar is being celebrated and friends and like-minded companions are joining hands to look back in order to forge a way ahead.

When we got married in September 1962, we had the same social circle and family friends in common, great persons such as Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Sibte Hasan, Hamid Akhtar, Zamiruddin Ahmed, Malik Noorani to name just a few. And we also shared the same kind of dreams. He used to dream of going to settle down in a village where I would teach, and he would do his medical practice and gather young men around him to improve their social set up.

That dream remained unfulfilled, but as if to make up for the promise of our unfulfilled dreams, Sarwar supported me in all my activities — whether it was to set up a centre in Sir Syed College to enable girls to earn their living through doing different kinds of handwork, or to be a part of the teachers movement to stand up for their rights against the Ayub regime, or to nurture the English teachers’ organization SPELT (Society of Pakistan English Language Teachers) to create opportunities and provide training for classroom practitioners with limited resources. He was with me in his own unobtrusive way. Continue reading

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Continuing Stories: Social Action and Change – Ruqaiya Hasan

Michael Halliday, Ruqaiya Hasan, Dr M. Sarwar and Zakia Sarwar, Karachi 1970's

By Ruqaiya Hasan

At the heart of every story are individuals – real or fashioned by imagination, crafted by inevitably evaluating memories, and mythologised by history.  At the heart of the story being told here today is also an individual, a Dr Mohammad Sarwar, very real to me, dear as a brother, and always present to my mind though no longer laughing and talking among us. When I first met him in 1964 on a visit to Pakistan, he was to me just a likeable young man, a newly acquired relative – the husband of my sister, Zakia.  He seemed full of fun and easy going, with a gentle sense of humour – so gentle you could miss it if you were not an attentive listener.  It did not take long to find behind this relaxed carefree demeanour, the reflective Sarwar, with a strong social conscience. Continue reading

Taking forward Dr Sarwar’s legacy (meeting note)

1-200701-Sarwar-Banner image1. Please see Facebook group created for Dr Sarwar – http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=167411502891 – we hope this will be useful for interactions and discussions

2. On Sept 16 , a meeting was held at Dr Sarwar’s residence. The agenda included commemorating Jan 8, 2010; a book that SM Naseem has proposed; and the think tank idea floated by F.G Ebrahim at the May 31st meeting at PMA house.

Participants: S. M. Naseem, Iqbal Alavi, Zain Alavi, Mazhar Saeed, Saleem Asmi, Dr Haroon Ahmed, Aisha Gazdar, Asif Saad, Zakia Sarwar, Beena Sarwar

Summary:

– Need to work towards holding an event on Jan 8, 2010 in Karachi (doesn’t have to be limited to Karachi of course) to highlight the importance of the student movement and its impact. Involve like-minded progressive institutions and youth groups

–  A proposed book in English and Urdu on the ‘Life and times of Dr Sarwar’ outlined by SM Naseem.

Strengthen and support Irtiqa Institute of Social Sciences, which was inaugurated on Jan 8 1994 and has held  events on Jan 8th for several years. Participants of the meeting agreed that this would make more sense rather than start a new progressive think tank as suggested at the May 31st memorial in Karachi.

Comments, feedback and suggestions welcome.

thanks
beena

Remembering those who have passed on

Minal and Maha with Dr Sarwar (Zakia in background), Jan 2009

Minal and Maha with Dr Sarwar (Zakia in background), Jan 2009

On special occasions like Eid or Navratri, we especially remember those who have passed on. Here is a note from Sehba in Houston relating a conversation with her daughter Minal who turns five years old on Sept 21 (happy birthday Minal, and thanks for your words of wisdom and love):

Right now, we’re in the car doing errands. Minal had a busy morning playing with one of my friend’s kids. Suddenly, she says: “Every one dies no matter what.”

Reně and I nod.

She adds: “I miss Nana. Sometimes I stay up at night and cry for him.”

“You do?” I ask.

“I wish I’d talked to him before he died.”

This just came out of the blue. We hadn’t talked about Babba for sometime. But maybe she was thinking about him because we skyped with Beena this morning.

Ali Sardar Jafri, Ismat Chughtai and friends, Karachi, 1980 (?) – Photos by S.M. Shahid

Photos by the photographer and musicologist S.M. Shahid, taken at the Arts Council in 1980 or so, when Ali Sardar Jafri and Ismat Chughtai visited Pakistan. Also photographed is the late poet Suroor Barabankvi, the prominent jurist Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim along with Dr M. Sarwar and Zakia Sarwar. The well-known television anchor Mujahid Barelvi is visible in one of the photos.

Left to right: Ali Sardar Jafri, Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim, Dr Sarwar, Ismat Chughtai, Zakia Sarwar. Photo: S.M. Shahid

Left to right: Ali Sardar Jafri, Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim, Dr Sarwar, Ismat Chughtai, Zakia Sarwar. Photo: S.M. Shahid

L-r: Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim, Dr Sarwar, Ismat Chughtai, Zakia Sarwar, Suroor Barabankvi; standing: Mujahid Barelvi. Photo: S.M. Shahid

L-r: Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim, Dr Sarwar, Ismat Chughtai, Zakia Sarwar, Suroor Barabankvi; standing: Mujahid Barelvi. Photo: S.M. Shahid

Ismat Chughtai, Zakia and Sarwar - Photo: S.M. Shahid

Ismat Chughtai, Zakia and Sarwar - Photo: S.M. Shahid

Pioneer of progressive student unionism remembered

Report in Daily Times, Aug 9, 2009

(Note: According to the published report, the event was about ‘Dr Hasan Sarwar’. They did later correct the error on the website. Some of the spellings are also incorrect and according to the reporter the ‘known progressives’ who spoke included Muneeza Hashmi, Dr Mubashir Hasan and Syeda Diep. For the record, they didn’t speak, but were certainly there throughout, which was a great source of moral support)

Copies of the booklet 'Celebrating Dr Sarwar' published by the Labour Party Pakistan on a table outside the hall. Photo: Daily Times

Copies of the booklet 'Celebrating Dr Sarwar' published by the Labour Party Pakistan on a table outside the hall. Photo: Daily Times

* Hameed Akhtar says succeeding generations acting as mere guardians of previous generation’s ideology

* IA Rehman says Dr Sarwar spent his life building country’s future

Staff Report

LAHORE: Famous student leaders of their time paid tribute to the pioneer of progressive student unionism in the country, late Dr Mohammed Sarwar at the Dorab Patel Auditorium of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Saturday.

Known progressive leaders and professionals like Minhaj Barna, Hameed Akhtar, IA Rehman, Hussain Naqi, Abid Manto, Dr Mubashar Hassan, Prof Afzal Tauseef, Moneeza Hashmi, Saleema Hashmi, Saeeda Diep, Zaman Khan, Dr Farrukh Gulzar and many others shared their experiences and friendship with the former student leader. Sarwar’s wife Zakia and his daughter Beena were also present.

The speakers said Sarwar pioneered the Democratic Students Federation (DSF) in the early 1950s in order to give the students a platform to make themselves heard. The DSF played a vital role in developing a progressive ideology in the country, and later became the base of a number of other student organisations like the National Students Federation. Barna said the DSF, labour unions and the society of progressive writers were three forces that rendered remarkable sacrifices to rid the society of imperialism and it was the duty of the next generation to honour their sacrifices and envision their dreams.

Mere guardians: Akhtar said people like Sarwar gave their lives to bring a change in society but the next generation acted as if was a mere guardian of those ideals (majawar). He said the struggle and ideology should be carried forward.

Building futures: Rehman said when Pakistan came into existence, the people of that time thought about freedom and prosperity. “The farmers thought that there would be an abundance of water for their fields and countless resources. But a boy from Allahabad travelled all the way to Karachi and became busy in thinking about building the future of the country. His name was Dr Sarwar and he dedicated his whole life to the purpose,” he said.

Naqi and Manto said Sarwar successfully led his students union against all odds and continued to do so despite facing torture, persecution and crackdown by governments.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2009%5C08%5C09%5Cstory_9-8-2009_pg13_6

Celebrating Dr M. Sarwar: Student movement revisited – Aug 8 Lahore event

Dr Farrukh Gulzar & Abid Minto

Dr Farrukh Gulzar & Abid Minto

Dr Sarwar’s Reference at the HRCP on Aug 8 was very well attended thanks to the passion, commitment and hard work of Dr Farrukh Gulzar, and also the involvement of Husain Naqi and Zaman Khan of HRCP and Ammar Ali Jan of the Labour Party Pakistan. The veteran journalist Minhaj Barna, despite his frailty and ill-health traveled by bus to Lahore with the political analyst and former editor of ‘Student Herald’ S.M.  Naseem. Hameed Akhtar, Abid Hasan Minto, I.A. Rehman, Salima Hashmi and others spoke very well as expected.

Hameed Akhtar addressing the gathering; Husain Naqi on stairs at left

Hameed Akhtar addressing the gathering; Husain Naqi on stairs at left

Dr Farrukh Gulzar sang Faiz’ ‘Nuskha hai wafa’ in his powerful and intense voice, carrying the audience along. Of the other speakers, Dr Haroon Ahmed could not make it because
he is unwell while Farooq Tariq was in Nepal. Zakia Sarwar wound up the evening with a note of thanks to all those present and those who made the event happen.

The LPP published a comprehensive bilingual compilation of articles about Dr Sarwar and the student movement. Farooq Sulehria in Sweden initiated the booklet, that Ammar compiled (I helped). It got a bit late coming to the venue from the printers and there was a problem with the binding but it was greatly appreciated. The remaining copies will hopefully be salvaged. The copies were to be available free of cost but the size and paper took them over budget. People are encouraged to contribute Rs 50 or Rs 100 towards this valuable historical reference.

Grateful thanks to other contributions to the evening – Waseem at the Interactive Resource Center who arranged the video recording and most importantly, HRCP for their hall and staff, and the multimedia equipment. Thanks also to PMA Karachi for the banner and to Qasim Jafri for finding Dr Sarwar’s favourite jugalbandi so that we could play it along with the slide show at the beginning, Ustads Bismillah Khan and Vilayat Ali Khan (in the rush I forgot the
CD in Karachi). Thanks also to friends at the South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) for hosting Minhaj Barna at their hostel and facilitating his visit by providing transport.

Photos of the event at:

http://picasaweb.google.com/beena.sarwar/CelebratingDrMSarwarStudentMovementReVisited#

— beena sarwar, karachi, aug 10, 2009

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