Category Archives: Movement for the Restoration of Democracy

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.

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.


First barsi of Fatehyab Ali Khan held in Karachi

On 12 October 2011 a barsi (annual commemoration) was held for the late President of the Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Party Mr Fatehyab Ali Khan (1936 – 2010) in the Mumtaz Mirza Studio in Karachi.

Fatehyab Ali Khan died on 26 September 2010 and the Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Party held the event in his memory on 12 October 2011.

The late president’s wife Dr Masuma Hasan was present at the event and Mr Meraj Mohammed Khan was the keynote speaker and the chief guest. The event was organised by Mr S M Altaf, Mr Ishrat Ghazali and numerous other advocates and party workers from across Pakistan’s expansive political milieu.

The event began with the speech of a young man called Bahadur Pashtun – who is a local worker and socialist political activist. Bahadur paid tribute to the model of politics which Fatehyab left for us to follow and the ways in which the great leader tried his best to represent the people before Pakistan’s political and economic masters.

As the event progressed several eulogising speakers praised Fatehyab for his honesty which they all saw as the great man’s enduring legacy for Pakistan.

The enthusiastic speakers explained that honest people – and those who had fought tooth and nail against dictatorship – in our country went unrewarded and the rich and corrupt prospered: this, it was argued, was not the country which our forefathers struggled and bled to create. Surely not!

The videos below in this post consist of the speeches made by Meraj and Agha Masood. The sound is a bit dull bit so please turn up the volume.

In their youth Fatehyab and Meraj both shot to unprecedented  prominence for opposing the Ayub regime – Pakistan’s first proper military dictatorship which usurped power in 1958 (after having been behind the scenes from 1954) – which the two brought to its knees through the activities of the National Students Federation.

Since Pakistan was a country founded by the Muslim League there was no opposition in Parliament and a void existed instead: this lacuna was, of course, famously filled by great men such as Fatehyab and his friends and followers.

Remembering his late comrade Meraj explained that Fatehyab Ali Khan’s politics was marked by his passion to bring Pakistan’s poor people into its mainstream politics to empower them and he did this by opposing dictatorships time and time again: first Ayub and then Zia. And he was consulted by many politicians, lawyers, and others for his acumen and knowledge on public law and constitutional instruments. (This was highlighted by Agha Masood in his speech and an article by Fatehyab on Pakistan’s constitution is available here.)

Meraj, moreover, explained that apart from being a national politician who led from the front, Fatehyab was also a great teacher and it was him who always did all the hard thinking in relation to how the regime would respond to civil disobedience and political agitation.

Foremost, Fatehyab was remembered for having taught Pakistanis the etiquette of politics and criticism (see video below).

Agha Masood is a prominent Pakistani journalist who is an anchor on Pakistan Television and other private news channels. He was a staunch supporter of Fatehyab’s politics and his very close friend. He was also Fatehyab’s student and the celebrated journalist admitted that he learned how to write a column from his late friend and mentor.

Agha’s speech is available here:

As Meraj’s speech was lengthy I have extracted the most notable parts of it.

The introduction to Meraj’s speech remembering his old comrade Fatehyab can be viewed here:

And the telling conclusion is available here:

Students’ struggle in historical perspective

(Author: Husain Naqi)

It would be to the abiding credit of the student leadership that General Ayub’s military dictatorship was challenged on educational campuses and the streets of Karachi. Students led by Fatehyab, Meraj and others led a procession against the killings, in violation of the ban under martial law

The last few weeks of the just concluded 2010 saw the revival of student protests focused on issues related to their educational affairs. It was also the year when the country lost Fatehyab Ali Khan, a national level former student leader of the turbulent 1960s.

Fatehyab Ali Khan, an immigrant from the then princely state Hyderabad, died in his adopted home city, Karachi. This city was also home to outstanding political leaders including the founder of the nation, Mohammad Ali Jinnah and martyred prime ministers Liaquat Ali Khan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto.

Fatehyab Ali Khan was the leaders’ leader of the student community in the decade preceding the notorious Zia dictatorship when the student community of the leftover Pakistan was deprived of its moorings, as the country’s second military dictator Ziaul Haq banned student unions and handed over educational campuses to the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT) and similar fractions of fundamentalist and sectarian parties who pursued their political agenda under the garb of the majority’s religion. Before this authoritarian diktat, the student community’s activities were rooted in a democratic pluralist tradition. Student leaders did have political views and subscribed to different viewpoints but their primary concern was for the student community’s problems.

When Pakistan was established, Karachi was designated as the country’s capital. Families of most government employees who had opted to serve in Pakistan arrived there. Karachi’s population multiplied in a couple of years and so did its problems. Migration did not have as massive an impact on other cities. Lahore did receive a large number of migrants but around 40 percent of its non-Muslim population also had to migrate to India.

Karachi, the capital, was also the port city so it received Muslim migrants in very large numbers from different parts of India. Many of them were victims of communal riots and many others of the attending discrimination due to partition. Continue reading

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