Tag Archives: Human Rights

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.

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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.

 

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.

In Memory of Fatehyab Ali Khan: ‘The Politics of Dissent in Pakistan’

Fatehyab Ali Khan, who served as Chairman of the Council of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs from 1995 to 2009, passed away in 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 underprivileged will long be remembered. I. A. Rehman, Secretary-General, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, will address the members of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs on ‘The Politics of Dissent in Pakistan’ on Saturday, 24 January 2015 at 4:15 p.m. sharp in the Library of the Institute. The Chairman and members of the Council cordially invite you to attend this session which is being held to honour Fatehyab’s memory and political struggle for democracy.

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.

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

Fatehyab’s greatest contribution to politics came during the Movement for Restoration of Democracy (MRD) as a fearless fighter against Ziaul Haq’s martial law regime. The Mazdoor Kissan Party, of which he was president, was a member of the alliance. 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, trial by a military court and numerous prison terms for Fatehyab.

Whenever he found respite during the 1980s, Fatehyab 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 and other commitments, Fatehyab 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. He followed an open door policy and generously allowed access, especially to young people, to its rich library holdings. Free from traditional prejudices, he was a great supporter of the women’s movement and especially encouraged the young women researchers at the Institute in their careers.

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.

Admired for his cultured and gentle manner, Fatehyab was a literary connoisseur and a lover of all music forms. He was universally respected for his integrity and never compromised on his principles or sought any favours. Wealth and material assets, which bring security to many, meant nothing to him. We will miss his wisdom, civility, and wit – for example, musing about his life, he would smile engagingly and say:

Mein aik nazaryati admi hun (I am a man of ideology).

Fatehyab’s Third Anniversary In The National Press

23Fatehyab never compromised his principles and upheld the ideals of secularism and equality between people.  Here are some recent extracts from the Urdu newspapers about his legendary leadership and how his heroic figure is celebrated. These two reports focus on this third anniversary function in Karachi. 

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

Operation Green Hunt

The item in Urdu below sheds light on the Indian military’s activity in relation to annihilating local indigenous people.

It also explains how the Indian state dispossesses people of their land. Moreover, in the video below Arundhati Roy also sheds light on India’s “democracy” and the activity of the military in relation to the “Maoists”. Continue reading

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