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October 15, 2018

Rule of law essential to keep Pakistan going: Sibghat Qadri


October 15, 2018

The rule of law and egalitarianism are imperative to the well-being of a country and society, and as long as we don’t pay attention to this aspect of national life, prosperity will always elude Pakistan and happiness will be a far-fetched dream for the people.

This exhortation was made by noted Pakistani barrister and Queen’s Counsel (QC) based in London, Sibghat Qadri, while speaking on the occasion of the launch of his book, “Sibghat Qadri: Bikhri yaadein aur baatein” (Sibghat Qadri: A collection of random reminiscences), at the Karachi Arts Council on Saturday evening.

Recalling his days in Karachi as a liberal leftist student leader and activist who often had to bear the brunt of autocratic governments for his services to the people, he said that they had thought that time would come when their efforts would bear fruit and a reign of egalitarianism and social justice would be ushered in, but today after the passage of decades, it was the same old story and feudalism and capitalism were as entrenched as they always were, making the lives of the toiling masses miserable.

Talking about the Naya Pakistan that is being touted these days, he said that he would like to see the Pakistan that was created by the Quaid-e-Azam, a Pakistan where one would not be persecuted on account of his/her religion, a secular Pakistan where everybody would have liberty with his creed (allusion to the Quaid’s speech of August 11, 1947), a Pakistan where justice was available to the lowest and the highest equally. That was the way the Quaid had envisioned Pakistan, he said.

Most nostalgically, he recalled his association with student leaders who were the icons of the Left in the early 1950s, like Dr Sarwar, Mairaj Muhammad Khan and Dr Adeebul Hassan Rizvi.

Comparing Britain with Pakistan, he said the son of a driver who decades ago migrated to Britain in search of greener pastures became the mayor of one of the biggest cities of the world, London, and had his father not emigrated, Sadiq Khan would have at the most ended up as a driver too.

He also cited the example of Saqib Javed an immigrant from Pakistan who joined the Tory party and was now the home secretary. He said Javed was one of the three people who had chances of becoming premier.

Dr Masooma Hassan, whose late husband, Fatehyab Ali Khan, and Qadri were comrades in the leftist, liberal movements, in her delightfully chaste Urdu, said that no doubt Qadri had achieved a high station in life but, according to her, his greatest achievement was his invaluable contribution to progressive politics.

She narrated Qadri’s association with the Democratic Students Federation (DSF) and later with the National Students Federation (NSF), and disclosed that the NSF had been created by the government of the day to cut down the influence of the DSF.

Qadri, she said, became part of the NSF but totally changed the direction of the movement and subverted the government’s move to steamroller the DSF so that both movements came on to the same page. She said the NSF, under the leadership of Qadri, openly opposed the 1958 martial law.

Justice (retd) Rashid Razvi, said that Qadri’s book was a profound commentary on life’s struggle. Democracy, he said, had always been used for grabbing power.

Others who spoke were Sadiq Umrani, Talat Hussain, Masroor Ahsan, Barrister Khwaja Naveed and Qazi Basheer. Television journalist Mujahid Barelvi compered the proceedings.

Arts Council President Ahmed Shah said that Sibghat Qadri was a humanist. “Qadri is not just an individual. He is an institution,” he said.

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