A beloved jurist passes on

Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim (12 February 1928-7 January 2020) gained respect early on in his career for refusing to take oath under the military dictatorship of Gen. Ziaul Haq. Through his life he wore many hats — founder member Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Pakistan Supreme Court judge, Governor Sindh, Chief Election Commissioner, to name some. But a little-known feather in his cap is his pro bono work for the imprisoned leftist and student activists of the 1950s, that he credited for his politicisation. Those, he would say, were “the best days” of his life. Here’s that story as I heard it from him and from my father Dr. M. Sarwar, published in The News on Sunday and The Wire a few days after Fakhru Uncle passed on.

Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim: A fine legacy (online photo)

By Beena Sarwar

As the debate on the much-delayed restoration of student unions in Pakistan gathers momentum, we celebrate and commemorate a beloved jurist who cut his teeth by taking on cases of detained student activists pro bono in the 1950s.

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Remembering Doc: The importance of civil discourse and the art of listening

At a small gathering last year, our friend S. Ali Jafari read his essay in Urdu about my father, whom he called “Doc”. His son Salman videotaped the reading, which forms the basis of this 14-minute video I edited for 26 May 2019, ten years after Dr M. Sarwar passed away peacefully at home in Karachi, at age 79.

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‘Blood on the streets’

Part one of a series I am working on.

Student mtg 1951 or 52

M. Sarwar addressing a meeting in Karachi, early 1950s, Khaliqdina Hall. Seated left: Rehman Ali Hashmi.

Looking back to look forward: The DSF-led movement of the 1950s eschewed party politics, was inclusive, and focused on student unity. Besides students from medical, engineering and and law colleges, it involved students from girls’ and boys’ high schools, and women’s colleges. 

Below, an extract from my forthcoming memoir on the struggle for democratic spaces in Pakistan. This is from the chapter about the student movement of 1953 that shook the country and laid the foundations for the University of Karachi, published in The Friday Times, Jan. 8, 2016. Thanks to Raza Rumi for pushing me to share this Continue reading

DSF Convention, Peshawar, April 29, 2012

Education is a right… Not privilege – DSF Pakhtunkhwa Students Convention, April 29, 2012, Peshawar

DSF Convention, Peshawar, April 29, 2012.

‘And there shall be more caravans of passion…’

Title for documentary 'Aur nikleiN Ge Ushhaq ke Qafley' - design by K.B. Abro

Several items uploaded to the Dr Sarwar blog over the last month:

1. Learning from history in an age of bombs
– my article based on research done for the 30-min documentary on the 1953 student movement directed by Sharjil Baloch, that I produced (we are making some final changes after which it will be available for distribution upon request).

2. Articles specially written for the Jan 9, 2010 Event Book on the 1953 student movement:
Keep the fire burning – End Note by Zakia Sarwar
Continuing Stories: Social Action and Change – by Ruqaiya Hasan
The High School Students’ Association and my rite of passage – by Ghazi Salahuddin

3. Scans of the Event Book, Jan 9, 2010 – Copies available upon request

A theatrical production by, about, for, students

Students rehearse at Arts Council. Photo courtesy: Rukunuddin Aslam

This is a unique theatre production – a combined effort written, directed and produced by students from various institutions in Lahore and Karachi, in collaboration with JAAG TAALIB E ILM a student organization promoting peace.

They promise “A theater performance the like of which Karachi has never seen. A story full of surprises, hilarity and personal tragedy. The story revolves a boy trying to find his identity in the conflicting ideologies facing our generation in this time of national turmoil.” (Tickets Rs. 250 available at Aghas and Shahbaz Subway). RSVP to the FB event.

The institutions involved are: Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), National College of Arts (NCA), National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA), Lyceum, National University of Science and Technology (NUST), Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture (IVSAA), College of Business Management (CBM), Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST) and Sindh Awami Sangat.

Curtain raiser in The News, Jan 19: ‘Yeh Bhi Ek Kahani Hai’ aims at solidarity Continue reading

Commemorating the January 1953 movement and a story about Karachi students inaugurating a Multan hostel

Here is an interesting story from the 1953 student movement, about how they contacted colleagues and supporters in other parts of the country in an age when communication was far slower and more expensive than it is now. Continue reading

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