Category Archives: Dr Masuma Hasan

Dr Masuma Hasan: In Memory of the Legendary Fatehyab Ali Khan, Federal Urdu University, 30 September 2015

Dr Masuma’s speech at Federal Urdu University, 30 September 2015, as delivered: Mr Raza Rabbani, Dr Pirzada Qasim, Dr Suleiman Muhammed, members of the audience. Some friends had suggested that this meeting and debate to honour the memory of Fatehyab Ali Khan should be held, as it was held last year, in the University of Karachi. But Fatehyab was not only the first elected president of the Karachi University Students’ Union, he was also president of the Inter-Collegiate Body, so he represented the entire student community. Therefore, it was in the fitness of things that the Vice Chancellor decided to hold this event in the Federal Urdu University. Here, I want to praise Asif Rafique and the members of his team who have arranged this event with so much devotion and care. My association with Fatehyab lasted for 50 years ─ first as students in Karachi University and later during our marriage. In politics, there were very few who matched his integrity and honesty of purpose. Since his youth, he was in the forefront of every democratic movement in our country.

During his political career, he made numerous sacrifices, was persecuted and subjected to many deprivations. He faced trials and convictions by military courts, long prison terms and externments but never compromised on his political principles. He was fearless and never yielded to political threats or pressure of any kind and he had that remarkable courage to refuse which is found in few people. He never changed his political party. He joined the Pakistan Workers Party and when it merged with the Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Party, he remained its president until he passed away in 2010. Fatehyab was a people’s hero, a brilliant orator, and he wrote extensively on constitutional, political and contemporary issues. During the Movement for Restoration of Democracy, which was launched against Ziaul Haq’s dictatorship, he made his greatest contribution to politics. That decade saw the most relentless persecution of Fatehyab and all those who were fighting for democracy and the rule of law.

A consensus builder, he tried to bring all like-minded political parties on one platform so that, together, they should work against dictatorship and establish a democratic order in Pakistan. He always championed the supremacy of the 1973 Constitution, both from political platforms and in the courts of law.

In his personal life, Fatehyab was remarkably free of prejudice ─ religious, sectarian or social. Yes, he was prejudiced in favour of his political ideology. He used to smile and say that he was a nazaryati person. He was extremely cultured and soft spoken ─ even when he opposed somebody, he did so with utmost grace. There were no temptations in his life ─ not for power, pelf, authority, property or money. He was completely immune to such temptations.

What is the message of this meeting today? We must ask ourselves this question. We should not forget that if we see any institutional autonomy, emerging democratic values, some freedom of thought and expression, it is the result of the struggle waged by Fatehyab, his colleagues, and countless political workers whose names have faded from our memory. The young people of this generation cannot, perhaps, even begin to comprehend, how difficult and cruel that struggle was.

The quatrain you see on the screen behind you, was written by the late Habib Jalib for Fatehyab and his externed colleagues ─

Fiza mein jis ne bhi apna lahu uchal diya

Sitamgaron ne usey shehr se nikal diya

Yehi tu hum se rafiqan i shab ko shikva hai

Ke hum ne subh ke rastey mein khud ko dal diya

About politics in Pakistan, he often recited this couplet by Mohsin Bhopali:

Nairang-i-siyasat-i-dauran to dekhiye

Manzil unhe mili jo shareek-i-safar na the

But perhaps that is not true, because this large gathering testifies to the fact that true recognition belongs to those whose sacrifice and devotion we are celebrating today.

In spite of the trials and tribulations which he faced during his lifetime, Fatehyab was never disappointed. He used to read this verse:

Hame yaqin hai ke hum hain chiragh-i-akhir-i-shab

Hamare bad andhera nahin ujala hai

And that same light glimmers today on the faces of the students gathered here who are the future and hope of our country.


Honouring Fatehyab Ali Khan: The 2015 Debate

A debate will be held to honour the memory of the late Fatehyab Ali Khan who passed away five years ago. The event will be held in Federal Urdu University in Gulshan-e-Iqbal in Karachi on 30 September 2015 and the programme will begin at 10:30 AM. Fatehyab was at the forefront of all movements against dictatorship in the country. His greatest contribution to politics came during the Movement for Restoration of Democracy (MRD). He was a fearless fighter against Ziaul Haq’s dictatorship. The Mazdoor Kissan Party, of which he was president, was a member of the MRD alliance. On 12 August 1983, he courted arrest in Empress Market Karachi as part of MRD’s civil disobedience campaign.

He worked tirelessly to organize and spread the movement and to develop a consensus for the alliance to work from a common platform in the future, which was not to be. The decade of the 1980s was a period of internments, externments, and numerous prison terms for Fatehyab. He was the only signatory of the MRD declaration who was tried and convicted by a military court. He famously pioneered the politics of resistance and dissent in Pakistan in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The regime considered them and their other companions – such as Anwar Ahsan Siddiqui, Agha Jaffer, Johar Hussain, Iqbal Ahmed Memon, Ali Mukhtar Rizvi, Ameer Haider Kazmi, Sher Afzal Mulk, Mehboob Ali Mehboob and Meraj Muhammad Khan – to be mere student leaders. But as demonstrated by the historical process, after their monumental struggle as students these individuals would go on to lay the bedrock of national resistance in our country.

Dr Masuma Hasan: In Memory of Fatehyab Ali Khan: I.A. Rehman’s Address on ‘The Politics of Dissent’

Fatehyab did not give up. Perhaps he did not know how to do that …

The beautiful and historic library of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs was packed to capacity when Ibn Abdur Rehman, better known as I.A. Rehman, spoke on The Politics of Dissent in memory of Fatehyab Ali Khan. The younger members of the audience had to stand throughout the session. I.A. Rehman is the Secretary General of The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and is one of the leading human rights defenders in Pakistan. He is the founding chair of the Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy and received the Magsaysay Award for Peace and International Understanding in 2004. Fatehyab’s was a most powerful voice of dissent in politics in Pakistan and, therefore, it was appropriate that Rehman Sahib should have spoken on this subject in his memory.

Throughout his life, Fatehyab fought for fundamental freedoms, democratic values, political morality and decency in public life. He was only 25 years old when he led the movement against Ayub Khan in 1961, which spread throughout West Pakistan, while the political parties sat on the fence. He was interned, externed and imprisoned throughout his political career but he never lost his sense of humour. See past posts on this event here, here and here.

During the agitation against Ziaul Haq’s tyrannical regime, he was one of the nine signatories of the declaration of the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD, 1981). During this movement, he sacrificed and suffered, worked tirelessly and also brought the Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Party (PMKP), of which he was president, into mainstream politics. He never compromised on his principles and never bartered his political ideology for any material gain. Contrary to the familiar custom in Pakistan, he never switched political parties and remained president of PMKP until his death in 2010.

According to Rehman Sahib:

The politics of dissent began on the very morrow of independence with stirrings in both religious and non-religious camps. The challenge from the religious right has run through all the six decades of independence from success to success for its warriors have followed a policy of nibbling at state power bit by bit. Its 22 points won it the Objectives Resolution; it won a major battle when Islamic provisions were inserted in the 1956 constitution and again when it forced Ayub Khan to restore the words ‘Islamic Republic’ that he had deleted from the constitution-like document prepared and enforced in his personal discretion; it persuaded the PPP founders to string democracy, socialism and religion together in their rosary; it facilitated the government’s acquisition of authority to decide who is a Muslim and who is not and it cheered Ziaul Haq as he created religious courts with powers to usurp the functions of the legislature. The holy warriors’ march has not ended. Now the religious groups claim to have raised a madrassa force that, according to them, could seize the reins of power any time. Still, the politics of the religious parties does not fully qualify for the label of dissent; it is more in the nature of catalytic action in support of the religious strand in the ideal of Pakistan.

He stated that the religious right was successful because, to a considerable extent, the non-religious centrist parties were reluctant:

to challenge the state’s drift.

Rehman Sahib traced the narrative of evolving dissent among centrist and leftist parties, leading to the formation of the Pakistan National Party in 1956 and later of the National Awami Party. By 1957, an alternative narrative had emerged due to the ground work done by provincial and regional parties. The PPP government, which took over what was left of Pakistan in 1971, offered a promise of change for dissidents but its own lack of tolerance for other political parties closed the space for the politics of dissent. Since 1977, this dissent has been confined to agitations for restoration of democracy. The politics of dissent has now been taken up by the small left of centre parties and nationalist parties in Balochistan, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The politics of dissent, said Rehman Sahib, has not been the exclusive concern of opposition parties. A great part has been played by persons and groups “that have done politics without assuming the title of political parties” such as poets, and four categories of activists – students, lawyers, journalists and women. He mentioned the fire of dissent which was kept burning by poets like Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Gul Khan Naseer, Sheikh Ayaz, Amir Hamza Shinwari, Qalander Mehmand, Habib Jalib, Ahmad Faraz, Fehmida Riaz and Kishwar Naheed and others who have sustained “the dignity of dissent and the beleaguered forces of sanity” with their songs of freedom, resistance, justice and hope.

Rehman Sahib described Fatehyab Ali Khan as a “restless activist who succeeded in carving out a role for himself in any situation for challenging the status quo and the conventional wisdom behind it. He was a star in the extraordinarily brilliant galaxy created by the National Students Federation and his stewardships of the Karachi University Students Union is one of the glorious chapters in Pakistan’s history of students movements.”

He brought his zest for change into politics which he preferred to making money as a lawyer and he supported any political cause which sought support. During the Zia period, he was one of the most consistently active leaders of the MRD and he propped up the Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Party when the Hashtnagar agitation had fizzled out and the party broke into factions:

Fatehyab did not give up. Perhaps he did not know how to do that.

Rehman Sahib spoke about Fatehyab’s “long and distinguished career in the politics of dissent,” saying that “I pay respect to Fatehyab Ali Khan not only because he was the head of the Institute that has hosted this event, and which he saved from being gobbled up by sarkari qabza groups, but because I can present him as a representative” of those“ who stood their ground in the face of tyranny and refused to succumb to blandishments and bribe.”

Finally, what has the politics of dissent achieved in Pakistan, he asked? Most political dissidents have been maligned and punished for their leftist inclinations. Although they never came to power, these dissidents have left their unmistakable mark on the growth of progressive ideas, on people’s linguistic and cultural rights, land reforms and an independent foreign policy. They fought for civil liberties and human freedoms and offered an alternative to the establishment-sponsored mindset.

How different Pakistan’s history might have been, he lamented, if the voices of dissent had been heeded:

But then all those who dismiss ideas of change as heresy close the path to their progress.

The questions Rehman Sahib fielded related mostly to the victimization of leftist parties. On a lighter note, as I looked around the audience, I was delighted to see the Station House Officer of the Artillery Maidan Police Station. He addresses me as maan ji.

Anil Datta on Dr Kamal Hossain’s Talk: Only the Youth Can Bring About a Fruitful Revolution …

We have to harness the energies of the young people to bring about a change in the destinies of the South Asian countries and give our people a life free from hunger and want. It is the young who are the real agents of change. 

These observations were made by Dr Kamal Hossain, former Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, former UN Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan from 1998 to 2003, and currently a member of the UN Compensation Commission, while speaking on the occasion of a lecture in memory of Fatehyab Ali Khan, former Chairman, PIIA, at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) Monday evening [24 September 2012]. 

“I would like to address you, the young people, because the future lies in your hands. You are the agents of change”, he said.

He said that his and his party’s most valuable asset during the 1970 elections (the last elections in the united Pakistan) were the young, almost a thousand of them who most painstakingly, without expectation of material rewards and fired by idealism, worked day and night for the party writing campaigns and disseminating the party manifesto among the masses. “We did in 1970 what Barack Obama did in 2008”, he said.

Unfortunately, he said that today, the young were victims of disinformation.

“Let the voices of the young be heard over the electronic media. Let them ask the children particularly in the rural areas, ‘are you happy with your school’, if you want meaningful and lasting change. Let them go to the grassroots level and interact with the masses”, he said.

“A revolution is waiting to happen in South Asia”, Dr Hossain said.

In Bangladesh, he said the voting age was brought down from 21 to 18 which resulted in a larger turn-out of the young at polling booths and said that the results of this positive step had begun to manifest their results.

It was the youth, he said, who could steer the country clear off past acrimony and bickering and jointly guide the ship of state in a harmonious direction, thus bringing about change and prosperity. He said that the young people today had far greater access to information than in the 1960s, but they lacked motivation. They did not have the role models that his generation had.

He said that there was absolutely no substitute for democracy and that it was the most viable, just, and egalitarian system of governance ever devised. It was a system that fully assured citizens justice, egalitarianism, dignity, and human rights. However, he said that today, in many cases, democracy had come to be diluted and instead of being a system of governance of the people, for the people, and by the people, it had come to be a governance of the 1 percent, for the 1 percent, and by the 1 percent. It was this eventuality, he said, that we had to guard against.

As for South Asia, he said that the region was laden with resources but unfortunately the countries of the region had not been able to harness them. What was needed, he said, was greater cooperation among the nations of the region to exploit them jointly for the common good of our masses. In this context, he quoted the late Chinese Premier Chou En Lai when he said, “In light of new realities in the region, the countries should now think of forming a commonwealth of South Asia and move from confrontation to cooperation.

Lauding the media, he said that while they had played a commendable part in mitigating

misunderstanding and acrimony among the countries of the region, more still needed to be done in this regard and said that the media could be made real agents of change in a region where even today, per-capita income was less than half that of the rest of the world and there was mass poverty. Positive change, he said, had to come in the bottom 50 percent of the population. Only then could we claim to have ushered in egalitarianism.

In reply to a question about galloping extremism in some of the region’s countries, he said that it was not extremism for the sake of extremism but that it was manipulated by vested interests who exploited the simplicity of the unsuspecting to achieve their personal ends.

In reply to a question about the dilemma of the Rohingyas in Myanmar, he expressed utter dismay over the sordid episode but held the Myanmar government responsible which in 1980 passed a new citizenship act rendering those Burmese citizens whose ancestors had immigrated into Burma from other places stateless.

Earlier, welcoming Dr Kamal Hossain, Dr Masuma Hassan, Chairperson PIIA, most nostalgically and touchingly recalled the era prior to the creation of Bangladesh, her association with Dr Kamal Hossain’s family, and their trip to a conference in New Delhi as representatives of a united Pakistan.

This article originally appeared in the News, please see here.

Peerzada Salman on Dr Kamal Hossain: “Young People are Agents of Change”

KARACHI, 24 September 2012: It is important to engage the energies of the young people if South Asia is to prosper and become peaceful. This was the thrust of the arguments eloquently presented by former foreign minister of Bangladesh Dr Kamal Hossain during his talk titled ‘Building a peaceful South Asia responsive to the aspirations of all our peoples’ at an event held in memory of the late revolutionary Fatehyab Ali Khan organised by the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs at the institute’s library on Monday.

Dr Hossain started off by paying tribute to the late Khan whom he said he admired at a distance. The late politician was more than a human rights activist; he was in the frontline of the struggle for democracy, he said. From 1958 to 1971, people like him (Dr Hossain) and Fatehyab Ali Khan had common aspirations. He referred to the students’ movement in which he also took part and as a result of which many suffered persecution and went to jail. He said the revolutionary leader struggled for democracy, for justice and for the rights of the ordinary people till he breathed his last. He said today politics was not seen in a favourable light, but in those days people were drawn to politics in the best sense of the word.

Dr Hossain said he’d have liked more young people in the audience because his talk was more about them than anything else. At the time when the late Khan was in the thick of things, young people took a stand for justice. He said youths were the agents of change and they should be questioning their representatives as to why there was injustice, why they were disorganised, what they could do to set things right and what things had let them down. He reiterated that change could only be brought about by the younger lot. This was the strategy that US President Obama used during his election campaign and in the last election in Bangladesh one-third voters were from that age bracket which made a huge difference and left a lot of people staggered.

Dr Hossain said there were issues that needed to be resolved (like the kind of money used in the elections), because people were uninformed or misinformed. Here the role of the media was of the essence to provide them with correct information, he said. He added that one had to look back and learn from experiences in order to look forward. “It’d been 65 years since we gained independence but we are to date looking for a future in which there would be rule of law, independent judiciary and good governance.” He touched on the issue of equal opportunity and said before the 1970s, 56 per cent of country’s population lived in East Pakistan. “In the ‘70s we started afresh.” He lamented the level of poverty and the asymmetry that existed between the provided-for and the disadvantaged in South Asia.

Dr Hossain iterated election promises always had the same factors related to real change and development but they’re seldom fulfilled. He argued that one needed to see whether basic issues such as access to food, health and education had been addressed. He quoted from a 2007 UNDP report on South Asia which had discussed in detail the challenges the region was faced with. According to the report, there was intense form of poverty in South Asia and health-related matters (such as high infant mortality rate and highest number of TB patients) were still unresolved.

He said that instead of blaming the British, who had left 65 years back, for everything, the energies of young people must be utilised. “We will not change unless you participate,” he noted.

“Power belongs to the people. They have the right to judge what their representatives are doing. They represent you, you must ask them the right questions,” he emphasised.

He again highlighted the role of the media and termed it critical. He told the audience that in some countries the media had already begun to play its part, while in some other countries it was controlled. He reiterated that if the young people didn’t come forward, no one would do anything for them. He said now that anybody above the age of 18 could vote, things were more viable for them. Today’s students were brighter than the students of the 60s, because they had access to information, he observed. “They must come out.” He said though there was no substitute for democracy, it meant much more.Dr Hossain said South Asia had huge natural resources but they were not fully harnessed. There was a need for regional cooperation. He said after Bangladesh gained independence Zhou Enlai suggested there should be a commonwealth of South Asia. He said the movement of Saarc was slow, because there were doubts and historical legacies, but time had come to put that behind. There should be regional centres now, for example the South Asia Institute of Advanced Medicine, because it was a common problem, he added.

Earlier, PIIA chairperson Dr Masuma Hasan introduced Dr Hossain to the audience and also spoke about Fatehyab Ali Khan.

Note: Originally published in Dawn, see here.

Welcome speech of Dr. Masuma Hasan: In Memory of Fatehyab Ali Khan: Dr. Kamal Hossain on Building a peaceful South Asia: 24 September 2012

This session is dedicated to the memory of Fatehyab Ali Khan former Chairman of this Institute, whose death anniversary falls on 26 September and the members of the Institute are indeed grateful that Dr. Kamal Hossain has travelled from Dhaka to be with us today. So many memories flood my mind as I welcome him. The year was 1965, the month was January, well before the Pakistan-India war. A delegation went from this Institute to attend the unofficial commonwealth relations conference in Delhi, comprising its Chairman Professor A B A Haleem, its Secretary Khwaja Sarwar Hasan, and Dr. Kamal Hossain, a brilliant young barrister from Dhaka, who was accompanied by his wife, Hameeda Akhund. The conference was attended by representatives of institutes of international affairs from all the commonwealth countries.

Although I was not a delegate, I went along on a private visit. In the proceedings of the conference, Dr. Kamal Hossain made an outstanding contribution. But my memories are more personal, the beauty of the Taj at Agra, the magic of Fatehpur Sikri, and the other events that Kamal, Hameeda and I attended, will always remain vivid in my mind. As also their support and hospitality during my subsequent visits to East Pakistan in pursuance of my research.

A few years later, however, our country split apart. Dr. Kamal Hossain worked for the creation of Bangladesh and was detained in West Pakistan in April 1971, being released only when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was released in January 1972 and allowed to leave for London.

In independent Bangladesh, he was given important responsibilities and held high positions in the cabinet. He was minister for law and is the principal author of the constitution of Bangladesh. As foreign minister he played a crucial role, in those difficult times, in placing his country, then so ravaged by the affects of war, on the map of the world.

Dr. Kamal Hossain was educated at the University of Oxford from where, among other degrees, he earned a doctorate in International Law. His expertise in International Law has won him many important assignments and his wisdom and knowledge are much sought after in international arbitrations. He was the UN Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan between 1998 and 2003 and is currently a member of the UN Compensation Commission. Universally respected for his professional acumen and integrity, he is easily one of the leading figures in jurisprudence in the world. We are indeed fortunate that he has spared the time to address us today.

We have gathered to mark Fatehyab Ali Khan’s epic struggle for democracy, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law in Pakistan, full as his life was of incidents of brutality and injustice against him, long terms in prison, internments and externments. He was only 25 years old when he led the movement of the youth in West Pakistan against Ayub Khan, at a time when the political parties shied away from confronting the dictator. As a leading figure in the Movement for Restoration of Democracy against Ziaul Haq, he went underground to mobilize the people, and indeed he was the only original signatory of the MRD declaration who was awarded a prison sentence by a Martial Law court. These trials and tribulations did not, however, force him to abandon his struggle or even lose his sense of humour. In the political alliances in which he participated he was a consensus builder but he never compromised on his principles or changed his political affiliations. He remained President of the Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Party until his death. Nor, indeed, did he need to compromise, as money, power and pelf meant nothing to him. He used to smile and say in his quiet, cultured way, ‘mein nazaryati aadmi hoon’.

Fatehyab’s love for this Institute was legendary. His courageous stand saved us from the construction sharks who wanted to dispossess the Institute and had their eyes on this beautiful building. After Ziaul Haq took over the Institute in 1981 through a presidential ordinance, with his grit and determination Fatehyab kept the issue alive for over a decade in the public sphere and through his supporters in the courts of law until the Institute was returned to its independent status by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Later, as Chairman, he always jealously guarded its independence. He wrote extensively on international and constitutional issues and has left behind a large archive which I hope can be published soon.

Dr. Kamal Hossain will address us on ‘Building a peaceful South Asia in response to the aspirations of all our peoples’.

Dr Masuma Hasan, Chairperson, The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs.

In Honour of Fatehyab Ali Khan: Dr Kamal Hossain Speaks at PIIA

One of the all time greats of South Asian history spoke at the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs today – 24 September 2012. Dr Kamal Hossain is a celebrated international lawyer and human rights activist.

He served as Bangladesh’s Minister of Law (1972–1973), Minister of Foreign Affairs (1973–1975) and Minister of Petroleum and Minerals (1974–1975). 

Dr Hossain struggled for Bangladesh’s independence from the captivity of the Pakistan Army: he and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman were released together.

Dr Hossain is one of the authors of Bangladesh’s constitution and is a legendary Bangladeshi lawyer and politician.

He spoke at the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) to pay tribute to the memory of Fatehyab Ali Khan.

Dr Kamal Hossain remembered Fatehyab Ali Khan, some who he looked up to and drew ideological strength from, as a legendary figure in Pakistani who shot to national fame at the young age of 25 when he, as a student (along with a few friends), singlehandedly defied Ayub Khan’s deplorable martial law regime.

Dr Hossian noted that he himself only took on the burdens of leading a national resistance movement against the military after he had been called to the bar in England and Wales and therefore had a steady income through his practice as an independent lawyer. He could afford to be politically active and struggle to bring about change. Reminiscing about the house to house campaigns in which he carried out mobilising the young, Dr Hossain remarked that “what President Obama recently did to win the election by reaching out to young people, we were doing that a long time back …”

Prior to Dr Hossain’s address, the PIIA’s Chairman Dr Masuma Hasan made a profoundly touching introductory speech in the memory of her late husband: she spoke nostalgically about the old days when Bangladesh and Pakistan were one country and so much was expected of the then nascent state of Pakistan.

We will be updating this blog – through a series of posts – and the Pakistan Horizon blog with details of the event which focused on peace building and constitutional rights in South Asia.

His address – entitled Building a peaceful South Asia in response to the aspirations of all our peoples – focused on a variety of regional and international issues and was followed by a question and answer session by the members of the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs and journalists – one member of the Pakistani media even asked a question in Bangla!

Involving the youth in the democratic process to strengthen democracy and the rule of law and using the media more effectively in order to create space that allowed young people the opportunity to express themselves remained the leitmotiv of Dr Hossain’s speech.

We hope to make the video and written transcripts of the event available soon.

Fatehyab being arrested in Karachi for leading the MRD agitation against Zia

In memoriam: Fatehyab Ali Khan 1936-2010

Fatehyab Ali Khan speaking in 1962

Fatehyab Ali Khan, Chairman of the Council of the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs from 1995 to 2009, passed away on 26 September 2010. He was a legendary figure in the public and national life of Pakistan. A visionary in politics, his struggle for democracy, fundamental freedoms, justice in society and the rule of law forms a glowing chapter in the history of our country. His support for the cause of the oppressed and under-privileged will long be remembered.

Fatehyab’s family migrated from Hyderabad Deccan to Pakistan after the Partition and settled in Shikarpur and Karachi. His bold stand against injustices in the local education system made him prominent at a very early age. Gifted with unusual organizing skills, persuasiveness and charm, he joined the National Students Federation and soon assumed leadership roles in the student community. He was elected as Vice President of Islamia College Students’ Union (at that time the president used to be an official), President of Karachi University Students’ Union and Chairman of the Inter-Collegiate Body. He was a brilliant debater. Continue reading

Aurat Foundation’s response to the floods

(By Dr Masuma Hasan, Chairman, Pakistan Institute of International Affairs)

The Indus River floods almost every year. After the flood recedes, the people living along its banks repair their homes and shops and pick up the threads of life again. In some years, the flooding is acute and the government, civil society and other donors mobilise to bring relief to those left homeless and destitute.

Dr Masuma Hasan

This year, the floods have been described by some, as the worst natural disaster in the history of mankind. Devastation? Tragedy? Calamity? None of these words truly describe the magnitude of what has struck disaster-prone Pakistan. As if terrorism and the war against it had not caused misery and displacement enough. It is estimated that 20 million people have been affected by the monsoon rains and the Indus flood which has broken dykes and embankments and submerged millions of acres of land. Hundreds of towns, villages and hamlets have been evacuated. People are on the move, desperately seeking a patch of dry ground and the means of survival.

The impact of this disaster will be felt for generations to come. The gains Pakistan’s economy, infrastructure, industry, health and education sectors had made have been washed away by the angry Indus. Heritage sites have been destroyed. Sludge covers the land, many feet deep. Crops, livestock and fodder have been lost, public and private records of governance, education, businesses and landownership have drowned. Stocks of grain and rice have been swept away. Who will sow the next crop? Epidemics and disease threaten our land. Continue reading

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