Glowing tributes were heaped on the late Asifa Rizvi, wife of Dr Tanvir Tahir, Executive Director, All-Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS), and a committed, untiring socialist leader of her day.
Her associates and her friends who were part of the strong communist movement at a juncture of Pakistan’s history when the very words Communism or Comrade were held synonymous with heathenism, when the government of the day in the 1970s and the 80s, was perpetrating all sorts of cruelty and injustices on the leftists under US tutelage, eulogized her and recalled Asifa’s zealous commitment to ameliorate the lot of the poor, the oppressed, those victimized by the capitalist system, and those who fell prey to the whims of an undemocratic, unrepresentative regime, at a reference for her at the Karachi Press Club Sunday evening.
It may be mentioned here that Ms Asifa Rizvi died on July 6 in Makkah after performing Umra.
Labour leader Ghiasuddin narrated the brave role she played in the Pat Feeder incident of 1978 when the Zia government tried to uproot poor farmers from the area and recalled how most bravely and with courage of conviction she did not even hesitate going to the much-dreaded Mach jail. He lamented that unfortunately, the labour movement today was rendered weak and divided and called for renewing the old zeal that workers like Asifa had injected into the labour and socialist movement. He said that it was Asifa’s unparalleled bravery and zeal that the victims of the Pat Feeder injustices were compensated.
Almost all the speakers eulogised her services to the cause of the disempowered, the wronged segments of society and recalled the yeoman’s role she rendered during the Pat Feeder injustices.
Besides recalling her role in the Pat Feeder episode, Anis Baqir talked of her role as a student leader and the brave role she played in mobilising a students’ strike in front of the Sir Syed Girls’ College to protest the policies of the then government in the case of the erstwhile East Pakistan.
Jan Muhammad Baloch recalled her speeches in Lyari despite the pernicious tactics of the regime of the day and narrated how she became a source of inspiration for the Lyarites.
Majid Bhai narrated how Asifa led the strike when Ramzan Memon was jailed during the disturbances over the Pat Feeder issue. He said Asifa led the women’s hunger strike and when the deputy-commissioner of Pat Feeder came over with a truckload of law enforcers asking the strikers to end the strike as it was not part of Baloch values for women to be out on the roads protesting in that manner, Asifa refused to capitulate for which she had to pay the price of going to the Mach jail.
Dr Bakhsh Ali, one of her associates recalled her role in the Pat Feeder episode.
Others who spoke were Advocate Muslim Shamim, Saleem Akhtar, Babar Ayaz, one of Asifa’s closest comrades, Hamida Ghangro, Hassan Javed, Akhtar Alvi, Uzma Noorani, and Shahida Ghulam Akbar.