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October 14, 2015

We can never dispense with politics, politicians: Asma Jehangir

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October 14, 2015

KARACHI: Today politics is considered a crime and we are made to believe that politicians have ruined the country. As such when we remember our politicians of yore, we remember the golden values they bequeathed us.
These views were expressed by noted jurist and former president of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Asma Jahangir while delivering the keynote address at the Arts Council here on Tuesday evening to mark the 33rd death anniversary of the noted Sindhi, labour and peasant leader and politician Qazi Faiz Muhammad.
“When we remember our politicians, we remember the values they bequeathed us. Successive dictators have tried their level best that we forget these values but these are in our blood,” she said.
“It is in this context that it is essential to remember Qazi Faiz Muhammad because we have to decimate feudal thinking, be it Sindh or Lahore. Today we are enslaved to this mentality and it is this bond of slavery that we have to snap,” she forcefully asserted.
She said that there was a time when we were faced with jail for speaking up for justice and truth but today it was the bullet.She paid glowing tributes to the people of Sindh for having started off the struggle for democracy in the 1980s “while prosperous Lahore was asleep”.
She bitterly condemned the official measures being promulgated like, no matter to be said or printed that was likely to sour our relations with “friendly” countries and in this context particularly took a swipe at the latest measure which forbade talking about the recent incidents during Haj. She said: “It is a strange irony that you can’t speak or write against ‘friendly’ countries but abusing a neighbouring country good and proper to your heart’s content is most welcome.”
She highlighted the crying need for secularism but said that secularism could not be ushered in just through constitutional measures. It had to come into the hearts and minds of the rulers, the politicians and the

masses. The government, she said, should adopt secular ideals.
Taking a dig at the politicians, she queried, “Who has stopped them from going to the assemblies? Who’s stopped them from making up the quorum of the assemblies?” Politics, she said, implied making the impossible possible.
She said that as long as the region was not denuclearized, there would be no electricity, no education, and no healthcare, things which, she said, were the essence of development and progress.
She mooted the idea of the formation of a Commonwealth of South Asia where the countries of the region could equally share the fruits of prosperity and progress, where ethnic groups on both sides of the divide could share their rich cultural and historical heritage, their time-honoured customs and values.
Dr Jaffer Ahmed, Director of the Pakistan Study Centre, University of Karachi, extolling Qazi Faiz Muhammad, said that we had to sift through the pages of history and spot the legacy he left us all. We should emulate his example of honesty of purpose, speaking up for truth and justice, and staunchly advocating the cause of the disempowered and the poor.
Talking about Qazi Faiz Muhammad, Dr Jaffer Ahmed said that Qazi was anti-One Unit as he felt that it robbed the provinces of their cultural and ethnic identity.Democracy and secularism, Jaffer Ahmed said, were inseparable and lauded Sindh for its very secular character.
However, he expressed concern that according to reports, 28,000Madrassas had come up in Sindh which would just promote obscurantism and brainwash the young generation in favour of extremism and bigotry.
Javed Qazi, son of Qazi Faiz Muhammad, also spoke.A documentary on the life and work of Qazi Faiz was also screened.Others who spoke were Mehtab Akbar Rashdi and Sultana Siddiqui. Siddiqui said that Qazi Faiz Muhammad was “the voice of the masses”.
Iqbal Tareen, former political activist now settled in the US, said that Qazi Faiz Muhammad was a really warm-hearted person.He lamented that the minorities in Pakistan were being discriminated against since 1947.President of the Secular Pakistan Forum, Dr Haroon Ahmed, offered the vote of thanks.The second session of the programme was a cultural and music show featuring Sindhi dance and music. Mushtaq Rajper compered the whole programme.