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 Continue reading
Voice of Dissent, Mairaj Muhammad Khan and a lifelong struggle for democracy by Kamal Siddiqi and Azhar Jamil (“the authors”) is a fascinating and detailed article which meticulously teases out the roots of resistance in Pakistan. It chronicles the great movement of resistance that challenged the abuses of power and dictatorships that have plagued Pakistan. As emphasised by the authors, whilst a chief protagonist, Mairaj was not alone in his struggle and the article traces time back to the heyday of dissent and agitation; techniques which he, of course, famously pioneered together with Fatehyab Ali Khan 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 – 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.
These activists, whose longstanding efforts defined the tactics of agitation for half a century, produced remarkable methods and modes of resistance for future generations to employ in their fight against injustice, venality, abuse of power and oppression. As recalled by the authors, for their opposition to dictatorship, all of them were sentenced to prison for a year to six months by a military court on March 30, 1961, for demonstrating against Ayub Khan’s authoritarian military regime. Continue reading
Fatehyab did not give up. Perhaps he did not know how to do that …
The beautiful and historic library of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs was packed to capacity when Ibn Abdur Rehman, better known as I.A. Rehman, spoke on The Politics of Dissent in memory of Fatehyab Ali Khan. The younger members of the audience had to stand throughout the session. I.A. Rehman is the Secretary General of The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and is one of the leading human rights defenders in Pakistan. He is the founding chair of the Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy and received the Magsaysay Award for Peace and International Understanding in 2004. Fatehyab’s was a most powerful voice of dissent in politics in Pakistan and, therefore, it was appropriate that Rehman Sahib should have spoken on this subject in his memory: see earlier posts here, here and here.
Throughout his life, Fatehyab fought for fundamental freedoms, democratic values, political morality and decency in public life. He was only 25 years old when he led the movement against Ayub Khan in 1961, which spread throughout West Pakistan, while the political parties sat on the fence. He was interned, externed and imprisoned throughout his political career but he never lost his sense of humour. During the agitation against Ziaul Haq’s tyrannical regime, he was one of the nine signatories of the declaration of the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD, 1981). Continue reading
It was an enjoyable experience listening to Dr Kamal Hossain, a former foreign minister of Bangladesh, who spoke at a recent function. The occasion was the death anniversary of Fatehyab Ali Khan, a tireless campaigner for liberty, dispensation of justice, the rule of law and the establishment of a democratic system in Pakistan. The venue was the library of the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs in Karachi — an institution whose log over the years has swelled to an embarrassment of riches in the field on book launches, talks and lectures. After the death of her husband Fatehyab, the institute has been ably run by Dr Masuma Hasan, a former ambassador and cabinet secretary who spoke about her late husband and introduced Dr Hossain to the city’s literati. Mercifully, there were no other speakers, just a clutch of men and women who subsequently asked questions. This was in refreshing contrast to the normal practice in Pakistan where an average of eight orators feel it is their bounden duty to loosen their vocal chords in public.
Not only did Dr Hossain speak extempore, he was articulate. It would not be an exaggeration to say that from the moment he made his introductory remarks the audience was absolutely riveted to what he had to say. There were none of the usual cornball clichés and gross generalisations that are spewed out by politicians with a grudge, vast resentments and huge egos. Continue reading
This session is dedicated to the memory of Fatehyab Ali Khan former Chairman of this Institute, whose death anniversary falls on 26 September and the members of the Institute are indeed grateful that Dr. Kamal Hossain has travelled from Dhaka to be with us today. So many memories flood my mind as I welcome him. The year was 1965, the month was January, well before the Pakistan-India war. A delegation went from this Institute to attend the unofficial commonwealth relations conference in Delhi, comprising its Chairman Professor A B A Haleem, its Secretary Khwaja Sarwar Hasan, and Dr. Kamal Hossain, a brilliant young barrister from Dhaka, who was accompanied by his wife, Hameeda Akhund. The conference was attended by representatives of institutes of international affairs from all the commonwealth countries.
Although I was not a delegate, I went along on a private visit. In the proceedings of the conference, Dr. Kamal Hossain made an outstanding contribution. But my memories are more personal, the beauty of the Taj at Agra, the magic of Fatehpur Sikri, and the other events that Kamal, Hameeda and I attended, will always remain vivid in my mind. As also their support and hospitality during my subsequent visits to East Pakistan in pursuance of my research. Continue reading
One of the all time greats of South Asian history spoke at the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs on 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. Continue reading
My memories of Nusrat Bhutto go back to her appearances in the media as the wife of the charismatic president, and then prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. I came into direct contact with her only when the Movement for Restoration of Democracy (MRD) was launched against the dictatorship of Ziaul Haq. The MRD was a multi-party alliance. My husband, Fatehyab Ali Khan’s Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Party was a founding member of the alliance and he eventually became one of its strongest pillars. Originally, there was some hesitation on the part of the more affluent older generation of politicians to allow a small leftist party, led by a reputed radical like Fatehyab, into the alliance.
Nusrat Bhutto, who had been impressed by Fatehyab’s courage in filing a constitutional petition against the radio and television programme aimed at influencing the Bhutto trial, Zulm Ki Dastan, came out on his side. The programme was stopped as a result of Fatehyab’s constitutional petition.
There was some reluctance also, among the older politicians, most of whom lived in palatial houses, to come to our simple home, opening on a run down lane, for a meeting of the MRD’s central executive committee. Nusrat Bhutto had no such qualms. Her arrival at the meeting in our house was a turning point for the politics of that time. Clad in a silk sari, she sat through the meeting in the rocking chair in our living room. Continue reading