Speakers at an event on Saturday paid rich tributes to the families of political activists who were imprisoned during the Movement of the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) against Ziaul Haq’s military dictatorship.
They said that without the support of their families, those political activists could not have carried out their struggle against the military dictator to the extent they did.
They were speaking at an event on the death anniversary of Kulsoom Sohail, wife of Sohail Sangi, a prominent journalist and left-wing activist who was arrested and jailed in a conspiracy case during Gen Zia’s regime by a military court in 1980. The case, which is remembered as Jam Saqi case, generated much national attention.
The Karachi Press Club, and friends and family members of Sohail had organised the event. A large number of people, including political and civil society activists, and journalists, attended the function.
Speakers highlighted the struggle of Kulsoom, who was a housewife, against Gen Zia’s dictatorship, and shared the hardships she faced when her husband, brother Qalander Bux Maher and brother-in-law Jam Saqi were in jail and being tried by military courts.
Sohail said that without the struggle and contribution of his wife, he could not have become a journalist and activist. “Most of my time was spent in jail or outside home. She was the one who brought up the children and took care of the family.”
“When I was imprisoned, my wife had three choices: to remarry, to go into depression and take her life like her friend and sister-in-law Sukha, wife of Jam Saqi, did, or to fight,” he said. “But she choose to fight and adopt the path of activism.”
Riaz Sohail, the eldest son of Kulsoom and a journalist, also recalled the hardships his mother faced while travelling to Karachi from Hyderabad to meet his incarcerated father in the jail and courts.
“When political prisoners face trials in the courts, their wives and children are also facing trials in society,” he remarked.
He said that when the trial of his father started in a military court, his mother got the chance to see many veteran politicians closely, such as Mir Ghous Bakhsh Bizenjo, Benazir Bhutto, Abdul Wali Khan, Maulana Shah Muhammad Amrothi and Mairaj Muhamamd Khan who used to come to testify in the case.
“She had heard the names of these politicians. For her, the court was a study circle where waterfalls of political understanding and conscience used to flow.”
Aslam Khawaja, researcher and family friend, said those hardships transformed Kulsoom from a housewife to a committed activist who played a key role in the struggle for the restoration of democracy and social change. He added that he did not find the late activist complaining about the miseries she had to endure due to the political struggle of her husband.
Journalist and academic Dr Tausif Ahmed Khan, who moderated the event, said the main objective of organising the event was to pay homage to such women who were unsung heroes as they played their role in the democratic struggle and faced hardships, without expecting any reward.
Daily Awami Awaz editor Dr Jabbar Khattak, journalists Mahesh Kumar and Fahmida Riaz, and Dr Murtaza Khuhro also spoke at the event.
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