Category Archives: PIIA

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.

State’s Anti-India Posture Caused Gradual Transfer of Power to Military

nprCoverage of The Politi­cs of Dissent in Pakistan in Dawn by Peerzada Salman

Yesterday’s lecture was organised in memory of the distinguished political leader Fatehyab Ali Khan at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs’ library. The Secretary General of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Mr I.A. Rehman explained that dissent implied presenting alternatives to state narratives. Alternatives to what, he asked, and answered that it was to do with the dominant narratives that developed because of a lack of clarity and interpretation of ideas before independence. When Mohammad Ali Jinnah was asked about the nature of Pakistani nationhood, the markers that he chose to define it came from religious traditions, which created a problem. He chose to define the history of Muslims of India different from their Hindu compatriots.

Regional communities (Bengalis, Punjabis, Sindhis, etc) were ignored as well as what was common and uncommon between them, he said. Still, Mr Jinnah maintained that Islamic principles would be followed in Pakistan but it would not be a theocracy. At the time of independence, he said, there were three groups who had their opinion on the matter and a large group of which supported sharia state. Realizing the danger of the issue, Mr Jinnah called for a new nationhood on the basis of citizenship but perhaps did not take his colleagues into confidence which was why his 11 August 1947 speech was not allowed to get published.

Mr Rehman said the price was paid in 1949 in the form of the Objectives Resolution and the country moved towards becoming a theocratic state.

He said Ayub Khan tried to apply the brakes but actually strengthened the clergy. In 1965 during the war with India, people’s religious sentiments were evoked not the love of the motherland, he argued. The Centre later gained more power, he added.

Mr Rehman then touched upon the issue of foreign policy. He said Mr Jinnah wanted foreign policy to be governed by the principles of friendship with all and malice to none which was discarded in his lifetime and the country entered into western military pacts in the early 1950s, turning into a security state. The element of permanent hostility towards India followed and with conflict over Kashmir the anti-India posture was maintained, resulting in a gradual transfer of power to the military, he said.

Mr Rehman said the politics of dissent began from the time of independence, to little avail. Ayub Khan had to restore the words ‘Islamic Republic’ into the country’s name, and the process to decide who’s Muslim who’s not took root. Mr Jinnah wanted non-Muslims to join the Muslim League; it didn’t happen and it became a Muslims-only party, he said. No one opposed the Objectives Resolution, and even Mian Iftikharuddin believed nobody’s going to follow it, until General Zia aggravated things. As a result, agitation was witnessed and women came out against the Hudood Ordinance.

Going back to independence, he said, it was Begum Shaista Ikramullah who first spoke for the Bengali linguistic right but was silenced and told it didn’t befit a woman to speak on such matters. Urdu contributed to another dimension to state ideology. Carrying on with his point, he briefly talked about the Awami League, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and agitation in Balochistan.

Mr Rehman said it was in 1957 that alternatives began to emerge with the arrival of the National Awami Party on the scene, frightening the establishment as a result of which pacts were withdrawn. Things, however, didn’t change much and subsequently Ayub Khan experimented with partyless politics. The Awami League and the PPP challenged Ayub Khan a bit, but the military kept its control, he added.

According to the HRCP secretary general, the politics of dissent since 1977 had largely been confined to agitation for the restoration of democracy, and in the 1981 accord the objectives of the movement were spelled out. Yet democracy achieved little, Mr Rehman commented, adding that for the past 25 years opposition parties became indistinguishable from the parties in power.

He said the politics of dissent was not exclusive to political parties as the role played by poets, journalists, lawyers and students was no less significant. Poets, he said, had kept the fire of dissent alive and in that regard he took the names of Faiz, Sheikh Ayaz and Habib Jalib. He also lauded the part played by students’ organisation such as the Democratic Students Federation (DSF) that resisted state oppression and not just fought for the students’ community but for the people as a whole. Bar councils’ struggle was appreciated too as was journalists’ contribution to the whole situation. He claimed that journalists had the clearest voice against General Ayub Khan.

Reverting to students’ part, Mr Rehman praised Fatehyab Ali Khan’s contribution to a great struggle and called him a star in the galaxy created by the National Students Federation (NSF) and remarked:

He brought his zest of change into politics.

Mr Rehman said the politics of dissent did cause a rethinking on some matters such as land reforms, language issues (belatedly in the case of Bengali) and the involvement in the non-aligned movement. Also, today every politi­cian was using the slogans that dissenters had used.

After the presentation, the floor was opened for a question-and-answer session.

Earlier, PIIA Chairperson Dr Masuma Hasan introduced the speaker to the audience and briefly shed light on the achievements of the late Fatehyab Ali Khan, including his role in restoring the PIIA to its original position after General Zia tried to turn it into a government institution.

Objectives Resolution Bade Farewell To Quaid’s Ideals: I.A. Rehman

Fatehyab Ali Khan was the brightest star in the galaxy of progressive politicians …

The Objectives Resolution of 1949 bade farewell to the Quaid-e-Azam’s ideals of equality for all citizens and his principles of fair governance. This was stated by I.A. Rehman while addressing The members of the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) and the media in his talk, “Politics of dissent in Pakistan” as part of the series of the Fatehyab Ali Khan Memorial Lectures on Saturday evening. He said all governments had slowly capitulated to the dictates of the religious parties. “Today, even the Shariat Court has pronounced a verdict against land reforms terming them against the spirit of religion,” he said.

As for dissent, he defined it as presentation of an alternative to the ruling government. However, in our case it was construed as rebellion or treason. According to Mr Rehman, there has been a lack of clarity about Pakistan’s ideals. For instance, in the beginning, there was a view in Pakistan according to which, Islamic principles would govern the country it would not be a theocratic state. It was stipulated that Islamic principles were compatible with democracy.

He said Mr Jinnah’s position that Pakistan would follow a neutral foreign policy with friendship for all and malice towards none was violated by successive rulers.

Dissent, said Rehman, made an appearance in 1954 with the Cold War having taken birth only a few years earlier. He therefore said that:

Pakistan started going straight into the lap of the US through the US-sponsored anti-communist military pacts which brought about lots of dissent not only between the government and the political parties but also within the ruling circles.

Citing the election of communists to the then NWFP, now Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, which motivated the government of the day to ban the Pakistan Communist Party.

The dominant voice of dissent, he said, came in 1957 with demands from all leftist parties and others to walk out of the US-sponsored military pacts. According to him, the situation was compounded when Ayub Khan grabbed power in 1958 and started off his rule of party-less politics.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Awami League (AL) emerged as forces of dissent but the PPP also generated into intolerance.

“During the Zia Years, the role of dissenters suffered most, especially those who spoke up against Pakistan’s involvement in the Afghan Jihad,” he said. “The politics of dissent has not just been the domain of political parties.”

In this context, Rehman cited the valiant role of the student organisations, Fehmida Riaz, Shaikh Ayaz, Habib Jalib, and last but not least, women’s organisations like the Women’s Action Forum (WAF). He also showered accolades on journalists and lawyers for their resistance to dictatorial and oppressive regimes.

In essence, Mr Rehman, a redoubtable champion of human rights in Pakistan, was of the view that the late Fatehyab Ali Khan was:

The brightest star in the galaxy of progressive politicians and student leaders, struggling to bring about democracy and socioeconomic justice.

Slightly edited version of article published by the News as Objectives Resolution bade farewell to Quaid’s ideals: IA Rehman.

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.

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

Pakistan Horizon: Blog of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs

PIIA’s blog has been launched and everyone who would like to contribute is invited to do so.

The details of the blog are available here:

Khwaja Sarwar Hasan: founder of the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs

This entry prefaces the editor’s intention to expand this website so that the work of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) can be included in this site’s content. Therefore, prior to launching the PIIA pages, it is only apt to remember the achievements of its founder Khwaja Sarwar Hasan.

Khwaja Sarwar Hasan was born in Panipat on 18 October 1902. His illustrious family had lived in Panipat since the days of Emperor Balban. Educated at the Muslim University Aligarh and the University of Cambridge, he was called to the bar of England and Wales at the Middle Temple. For a few years he practised law at Aligarh and later become Professor of Law at Delhi University where he taught for 14 years. He was closely associated with civic life in Delhi and was a municipal commissioner of the city.

In his youth he was deeply influenced by Muslim nationalism in the subcontinent and became a staunch supporter of the Pakistan movement. Continue reading

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

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