Category Archives: Mazdoor Kissan Party

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.

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Happy Birthday Fatehyab Ali Khan

Speaking in 1962

Speaking in 1962

Fatehyab Ali Khan, President of the Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Party and a legendary figure in the public and national life of Pakistan, passed away on 26 September 2010. A visionary in politics, his relentless 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. Today, i.e. 19 May, is Fatehyab’s Birthday.

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 of the union used to be an official), President of Karachi University Students’ Union and Chairman of the Inter-Collegiate Body. He was a brilliant debater in both Urdu and English.

During the students’ movement against Ayub Khan’s martial law, when political parties were quiet spectators, Fatehyab shot to fame as a national figure and the leader of the movement. He was tried as Accused Number One and convicted by a military court in 1961. After he had served his sentence in Bahawalpur Central Jail, along with other activists, he was twice externed from all parts of the country, except Quetta. He was denied a passport to study abroad by the regime and ultimately took up law as his profession in Karachi.

Fatehyab was in 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. However, he never yielded to pressure and never compromised on his political principles.

Fatehyab served his prison terms in the 1980s in Karachi and Sukkur jails but whenever he found respite, he turned his attention to The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs, of which he had become a member in 1972. In 1980, Ziaul Haq had taken over the Institute through a presidential ordinance, turning it virtually into a government department. Between prison terms, he led a determined and courageous legal campaign to get the Institute restored to its original independent and non-official status. After many setbacks, his persistence triumphed and the presidential ordinance was declared ultra vires of the Constitution by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 1993.

In 1995, Fatehyab was elected as Chairman of the Institute’s Council, a position he held until 2009. As Chairman, he jealously guarded the independent character of the Institute, countering all pressure with the strength of his own personality. Free from traditional prejudices, Fatehyab was a great supporter of the rights of the marginalized, including the women’s movement, and stood by every initiative for women’s empowerment.

He was a prolific writer and has left behind a rich archive consisting of numerous constitutional petitions filed by him against martial law, articles on constitutional and international issues, political analyses and statements. These documents reflect not only his own commitment and contribution but also the dilemmas of the times in which he lived. These historic documents in the struggle for democracy will be exposed in a forthcoming book by his wife Dr Masuma Hasan.

Mahmood Shaam Remembers Fatehyab

Legendary journalist Mahmood Shaam recently remembered Fatehyab Ali Khan and Rana Justice Bhagwan Das (who only recently passed away last month). Mr Shaam mentioned the great loss that the country suffered when Fatehyab Ali Khan passed away but said that his transparent politics will never be forgotten.

 

Elite Pakistani Judiciary Unapproachable For Common Man

On 26 February 2014, the President and Members of the Managing Committee of the Sindh High Court Bar Association, Karachi hosted in the High Court Lawns what they described as a “Welcome Dinner” in the honour of the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani.

The Honourable Chief Justice of Sindh Mr Justice Maqbool Baqar made a fine speech about constitutionalism and in making his point that Pakistan is undergoing a traumatic period in its history he went as far as quoting from the historic case of A & Ors v. Secretary of State for the Home Department [2004] UKHL 56.

Similarly, the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan followed his learned brother and he too made a fine speech about how Pakistan was under threat from Islamic extremism and how we needed to strengthen our resolve to get through hard times. He also made splendid remarks about how much him and his Court like exercising their constitutional jurisdiction and emphasised that the bench and bar together would bring justice and harmony to Pakistan (by upholding the fabled rule of law of course).

He also said rather fleetingly that the minorities’ rights should be protected.

What, may we please ask with the greatest of respect,  have their Lordships done about the persecution of the Ahmadis then?

Nothing it appears …

And this deceptive, misleading and misrepresentative write up in Dawn – SC empowered to intervene in public matters –  on what happened in the “Welcome Dinner” cannot conceal the honest truth. Fine words were spoken by the elite judiciary of Pakistan but in fact these pretty words lack substance.

Why?

In fighting for the little freedom that exists in this country today, we of the Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Party have shed our sweat and blood without hesitation or expectation of reward.

In the High Court Dinner we sent our delegate (the President Karachi Division) with our greetings and warm regards to the learned judges. We also sent a proposal to modernise the way the law is recorded in Pakistan. We would have liked it if our proposal to lobby for a “Legal Institute of Pakistan” website (to achieve parity with Legal Institute of India, a free website following the phenomenal BAILII model which records all the decisions of the courts and interlinks them) had been heard.

But it was not to be: our proposal was never heard because some people from Sindh High Court Bar Association would not allow our representative access for 5 minutes to the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani.

How does the bench explain allowing individuals with well known criminal antecedents (but inexplicably enrolled as advocates of the High Court) to hover around it? They were not stopped from mingling with the senior judiciary but rather disgracefully seemed to be running the show.

But this is Pakistan (ye Pakistan hai): a corrupt and primitive country where there is no law. It is a disgraceful and pitiful place where honest advocates of lengthy standing representing public causes are not allowed to speak to the country’s senior most judicial figure (who claims to descend from the English legal system and speaks fondly about the House of Lords).

But the contradiction for the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani is that his words are hollow whereas the words of his beloved House of Lords are of great substance because its judges and the judges of its successor UK Supreme Court do actually take the time and trouble to meet everyone and don’t retreat to some VIP enclosure to talk to people of questionable character instead. Can there be a VIP area for justice? Does the judiciary also operate an exclusive domain for the very important thugs and cheats of this country?

And unlike the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan, the Gora (i.e. white) judges also don’t use the opportunity to be the Chief Guest to create media frenzy in relation to their colleague’s son’s book about the Constitution by describing him as “energetic advocate” and by singing his praises.

Overall the dinner hosted in the High Court Lawns by the President and Members of the Managing Committee of the Sindh High Court Bar Association, Karachi was a farce and it really cast serious doubts about the claims advanced by the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan and the Honourable Chief Justice of Sindh that they will somehow bring harmony to Galaxy Pakistan because they don’t even want to meet the members of their own bar; leave alone hear any proposals in respect of modernising/digitalising legal reporting which we might have.

We cannot say that we stand with the judiciary if it surrounds itself with thugs and crooks. They – i.e. the judiciary – did hang, or “judicially murder”, Bhutto and will never be able to wash their hands off his blood …

And more than the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, Pakistan’s greater challenge is that it has to save itself from endemic corruption. Of that there can be no doubt. But the bench failed to mention this point. If the point was made at all it was purely expressed as a rebuke to the country’s corrupt political elite: But what about corruption in the judiciary My Lords? Are you incapable of addressing that. Or are you just too well fed and blind to care about such things in your VIP Ivory Tower?

Sorry, but our country cannot be a dictatorship of the judiciary. With the greatest of respect that is unacceptable to us citizens of Pakistan; the Mazdoors and the Kissans. We fail to see why the learned and respected senior judiciary could not take the trouble to dedicate some time to answering some questions from a large and vibrant audience of advocates? In comparison, the senior judiciary in the UK or the US always allows some time for questions from the audience. This is only logical because if not why make a speech at all then?

We were very disappointed by the dinner hosted in the High Court Lawns by the President and Members of the Managing Committee of the Sindh High Court Bar Association in the honour of the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani.

It was a Real Joke but at least the Chief Justice of Sindh Mr Justice Maqbool Baqar managed to mention A & Ors v. Secretary of State for the Home Department [2004] UKHL 56. Or was he talking about A & Ors v. Secretary of State for the Home Department (No 2) [2005] UKHL 71?

Guess we will never know because the venal thugs of the Sindh High Court Bar Association would not let our workers, who are accomplished advocates of the Sindh Bar Council, to ask him which case he was in fact referring to? Our workers/members were abused and manhandled by the goons of the Sindh High Court Bar Association.

There is no justice in Pakistan and we at the bar would like to take this opportunity to inform the bench of this in our post today. Indeed we rely on our right to freedom of expression under the Constitution of Pakistan.

We are informed by advocates across the border in neighbouring India that their judiciary does in fact meet the common advocate of the local bar. Shame on our country where choori and badmaashi are the Order of the Day. Nevertheless, even for insulting our representative, we would like to thank the venal thugs of the Sindh High Court Bar Association for their lovely “Welcome Dinner”. Cheers for the invite.

The “Welcome Dinner” in the honour of the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani was disgraceful and scandalous.

Grand words are not enough: the bench needs to show much more commitment to fighting corruption and nepotism rather than tolerating such vile behaviour and promoting it. Because it has a nexus with the Sindh High Court Bar Association (some elitist club claiming to be furthering the rights of the advocates of Sindh) rather than the Sindh Bar Council (the appropriate licensing authority for all provincial advocates), the senior judiciary was unapproachable for the common man on the day.

Fatehyab Ali Khan, Advocate High Court of Sindh

President, Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Party

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.

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

Supreme Court sacks Prime Minister

In an unprecedented show of judicial independence and strength, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has dismissed the Prime Minister Mr Yousaf Raza Gillani for contempt of court. In an earlier post this blog debated what Mr Gillani’s fate might be? Mr Kadri QC and I concluded that by breaching a court order and acting contemptuously, Mr Gillani was destined to get into trouble. And it seems that our prediction was correct! 

Mr Gillani was convicted of contempt and did not appeal the Supreme Court’s decision.

Stripping the prime minister of his office, a measure of last resort used by the judiciary to maintain constitutional order, was a difficult step to take and Mr Gillani’s successor will face the even harder task of writing to the Swiss authorities (pursuant to, and in implementation of, paragraphs 177 and 178 of the NRO Judgment) to restart the corruption cases against the President Asif Ali Zardari and his cronies.

In order to replace Mr Gillani, who will be departing from his official residence today, it is expected that the National Assembly will elect a new prime minister on Friday 22 June 2012.

Exercising its original constitutional jurisdiction, the Supreme Court ordered that:

Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani guilty of contempt of Court under Article 204(2) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 read with section 3 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003 and sentenced him to undergo imprisonment till rising of the Court under section 5 of the said Ordinance, and since no appeal was filed against this judgment, the conviction has attain finality. Therefore, Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani has become disqualified from being a Member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) in terms of Article 63(1)(g) of the Constitution on and from the date and time of pronouncement of the judgment of this Court dated 26.04.2012 with all consequences, i.e. he has also ceased to be the Prime Minister of Pakistan with effect from the said date and the office of the Prime Minister shall be deemed to be vacant accordingly

The Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Party is pleased with the Supreme Court’s approach to the issue of Mr Gillani’s contempt. No one is above the law: especially not the prime minister. Pakistan’s citizens deserve that people with public power should be held accountable for their actions. Our country’s politicians ought to respect the rule of law and refrain from using the law of the jungle for their own political ends.

A free and fair judiciary is in Pakistan’s interest and decisions such as this one, if consistently made and respected, might help our country restore constitutional order. It is hoped that such actions will help Pakistanis make strides towards freedom.

The people of Pakistan are universally embracing the ruling: they complain that Mr Gillani was not working in the interests of “good governance”. The people, who have no water, electricity, sanitation and food are rejoicing at the prime minister’s demise/dismissal because he failed to act in accordance the constitutional role allocated to his office.

The Court’s Short Order is available below

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