Tag Archives: Sindh

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.

Benazir Bhutto 1953-2007: a tribute

Remembering the Daughter of the East

Today it was Benazir Bhutto’s third death anniversary. When we were growing up in Pakistan at the height of General Zia’s military regime’s power, everyone believed that Benazir would return to depose the tyrant and restore democracy: this was gospel.

Therefore,  it was difficult for me to let the day of BB’s death pass without some form of remembrance of her personality on this site.

After all it is our purpose to provide a place from where the voice of the mazdoors and kissans, the “people”, of Pakistan can be heard.

Pakistan’s people looked to BB to pull their country out of the doldrums. Continue reading

Condition of widows in Pakistan

Dr Masuma Hasan

Being a widow is not a stigma in Pakistan either in religion or under the law. Marriage in Islam, which is the religion followed by the majority of the population, is not considered as sacrosanct. It is viewed as a civil contract between two individuals which can be dissolved. Thus the extreme sanctity attached to marriage in certain other religions does not operate to turn a widow into an outcast or be held responsible for her husband’s death. Traditionally, widows have been encouraged to re-marry and marriage to a widow has always been considered as an honourable act.

According to the latest Census (1998), in a population of 132.4 million, there were 2.7 million widows in the female population of 69 million. The largest number, 442,179, were found in the age bracket 75 years and above, followed by 416,773 in ages 60 to 64 years, and 326,176 between 50 to 54 years. However, Pakistan’s population in 2010 is estimated at over 170 million so the number of     widows has also increased.

Supportive influences

The law of the land, as embodied in the Constitution of 1973, and all previous constitutions, does not discriminate between the rights of women and men. The Constitution guarantees equal rights to both and rules out discrimination on the basis of sex. It empowers the State to make special laws for the protection of women and children and take steps to ensure the full participation of women in all spheres of national life and protect the marriage, the family, the mother and the child.

A widow inherits one-fourth of her husband’s property if she has no children, and one-eighth of his property if she has children. The Government has made humane provisions for the widows of its employees. After the death of a Government employee, his widow receives the family pension until her own death. Widows of lower paid employees also receive a one-time grant for rehabilitation from the official Benevolent Fund. In the private sector, which works for profit, there are no universal rules governing support for widows of deceased employees, but given the culture of philanthropy, some short-term provision is probably made. 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

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

Land and the politics of ethnicity

Politically motivated targeted killings, sectarian violence, forced occupation of other people’s property, illegal bulldozing of poor settlements, an increasing crime rate and an increasingly helpless and corrupt administration, are making Karachi ungovernable. There are many local, national and international causes for this state of affairs. However, a major cause is the politics of ethnicity and the close link it has unwittingly acquired with the trillions that can be made from the land and real estate business.

According to the 1998 Census, 48 per cent of the city’s population is Urdu speaking, 14 per cent is Punjabi speaking, 12 per cent is Pashto speaking and about 9 per cent is Sindhi speaking. The rest of the population speaks all the remaining languages of Pakistan. Continue reading

Khairpur Nathan Shah

By Arif Hasan (published in Dawn on 28 October 2010)

Muhammad Iqbal Memon, DCO Dadu invited me to visit Khairpur Nathan Shah to “advise” him on its “rehabilitation”. In the briefing held in Dadu on 10 October 2010, and attended by Imran Zafar Laghari (the MPA of the area) and Sikandar Panhwar (the TMO) , we learnt that the town had over 15,000 plus homes and shops, its water came from tube wells seven kilometres away as the local subsoil water was brackish, and that the sewage system consisted of open drains (as in the rest of the small towns of Sindh) and disposed into cesspools or pumped untreated into the saim nali through three disposal points. The absence of an underground sewage system is a major cause of disease and environmental pollution. The town is divided into thirteen community based paras or neighbourhoods. It has functioning educational and health institutions including degree colleges for both girls and boys. Continue reading

Floods and after

By Arif Hasan (Published in Dawn on 27 August 2010)

For a sustainable reconstruction of the physical and social infrastructure of flood ravaged Sindh, it is necessary to understand to what extent the damage caused by the flood is man-made. Some of the broad indicators are obvious.

Arif Hasan

Due to the construction of barrages and hundreds of kilometres of flood protection embankments the flood plains of the Indus have been considerably reduced. They can no longer cater to exceptionally high floods. As such, these flood waters are carried away by canals to considerable distances away from the flood plains. The canals in turn flood the colonised areas. An important question is whether the water carrying capacity of the flood plains can be increased and whether engineering works can reduce pressure on the canals in case of high floods? Preliminary discussions with engineers suggest that this is feasible.

Not only have the flood plains shrunk but shrub-lands and forests in them have been destroyed to make way for agriculture. This has increased the scale of flooding and the velocity of water. It has also made embankments more susceptible to erosion and collapse. In addition, settlements, some permanent and other semi-permanent, have developed in the flood plains, adding considerably to the vulnerable population. Continue reading

For Abbu

On 22 September 2010 Fatehyab Ali Khan, my father, suffered a cardiac arrest in Karachi. On the 20 September I had been to see my rheumatologist in London and she had given me an injection in my right knee. In my last conversation with my father on 21 September 2010 I discussed my injection with him. He told me that he was not feeling well (“betay meri tabyit theek nahin hai”). I informed him that Dr Nutall who administered the injection to my right knee was beautiful and that she wore red lipstick which complemented her long brown hair. Even in his illness my father was tickled by my description of the doctor. Goodness knows he saw so many of them towards the end of his life. In June 2010 I saw my father for the last time. I made him promise that he won’t die. He told me that he would try but that he could not control time.

Regrettably, and very unexpectedly, because of the cardiac arrest of 22 September 2010, I lost my father on 26 September 2010. Fatehyab Ali Khan was 74 years of age when he died and most people who called to commiserate called his “a good innings”. I was making arrangements for him and my mother, Dr Masuma Hasan, to visit me in London soon. But alas this was not to be. My fear, which I sought to mitigate through prayer (odd for a non-religious person), finally materialised. I had lost a parent and it was daddy who went first. He had promised my mother this: that he would die first. He also said it did not matter who died first between him and my mother because either way throngs of people would attend the funeral. And this was to be the case at his.

Since I was working in London and unable to return home because my visa application is under consideration by the Secretary of State for the Home Department, I could not even return home to bury and mourn the loss of my father. Instead, I just sat in the new rented flat I moved into near London’s Turnpike Lane tube station crying as I made sense of the ton of belongings which I had placed in plastic bags for the purposes of moving house.

But I cannot say that I was entirely alone. People who I had never known called me from all over the world to share the loss of my father and to celebrate his achievements in fighting injustice in Pakistan.

Then there were those who I did know and who knew him. My childhood friend from our neighbourhood in Karachi Kubair Ahmed Shirazee offered me great advice and was a great source of strength for me in such testing times. Kubair’s older brother Agha Abid Shirazee was murdered in Karachi just the month before. Moreover, Kubair lost his father when he was very a very young lad.

My friend told me that “Asad don’t worry … uncle was a great dad, and the only thing for you to remember and cherish is that when you were growing up your father was always around and that is all that counts.

Moreover, in our eulogy we remembered how there were the parties in which Benazir Bhutto was the chief guest and how daddy did get quite angry with us when we polished off all the champagne! All the meetings which took place over the decades in our house in KDA Scheme 1 in Karachi where we played and grew up were also revisited by us in a central London local whose name momentarily escapes me.

So as a helpless person who could not participate in the last rites of his father, I thought of what I could do to honour the memory of one of the few national politicians in Pakistan who was honest?

Miraj Muhammed Khan said in his recent speech in the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs that Fatehyab  was a man who loved his principles and loved his wife Masuma; most importantly Miraj said that his old friend loved directly from the heart (“dil se mohabat karta tha”). I can add to that my father loved Pakistan, its people, its hustle and bustle, its frontier towns, and most of all its politics. He was also caring family man and loved his children and family.

It was him who set precedents in a despotic and dictatorial state which have enabled its downtrodden citizens to fight for their rights and to not be scared of standing in the path of some big general’s loaded gun: Both Ayub and Zia would no doubt be forced to agree. That too armed only with a copy of the 1973 Constitution as Mr IA Rehman wrote on his death.

In the Sindh High Court random people informed me that my father was a “legend and a hero” when I visited the bar room there with the great man himself in 2008. People just sat around us and asked for permission to be allowed to leave. It was not something which I, a cheeky and insolent younger son, had expected! Having abhorred and repudiated dictatorship for decades made him a national hero and Fatehyab Ali Khan will always be remembered for his contribution to Pakistan’s politics. He took great relish in introducing me to members of the Sindh High Court bar as a “barrister” because he had obtained admission in Cambridge University and Middle Temple to read law but was not allowed to travel because the government refused to issue him a passport because of his student politics. Revenge for him by introducing his younger son as a barrister was bitter sweet indeed.

In order to remedy my non-attendance at his funeral I have chosen to write in memory of Fatehyab Ali Khan on this site. I have chosen to keep the domain name as “mazdoorkissan” because this was the name of his NWFP Hashtnagar based party which is a secular and socialist outfit.

I will use this space not only to write about legal and democratic issues connected to Pakistan, but also global political and legal events which are inevitably connected to Pakistan’s future. I am sure that my father would have approved of this and I hope to write this blog to represent the views taken by moderate and right-minded Pakistanis.

Anyone who wishes to contribute to this website can contact me with their work and I will be happy to add it on as long as it resonates with democracy which for me is an acceptance of all people irrespective of their race, religion, and gender etc.

The contents of this space will represent the poor of Pakistan, its mazdoors and kissans and it is my objective that their voices will be heard from here.

Thanks.

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