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.

Continue reading

‘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

Celebrating Dr Sarwar

A few days before he passed on, I had a visual image of Dr Sarwar being welcomed by many of his close friends who had passed on earlier – Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Ahmad Faraz, Habib Jalib, Suroor Barabankvi, his brother Akhtar… There are of course so many others. One thing is for sure – they’re together and they’re having a party.

Dr Sarwar with his friends Syed Sibte Hasan and Faiz Ahmed Faiz.    Photo by Dr Haroon Ahmed

Dr Sarwar with his friends Syed Sibte Hasan and Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Photo by Dr Haroon Ahmed

We had our own party here in Karachi on May 31 – Pakistan Medical Association held a reference at PMA House for Dr Sarwar titled ‘Celebrating Dr Sarwar’. The event was initiated by his old friend Iqbal Alavi of Irtiqa, who had been one of his jailmates in 1953.

Some 200 people attended. Doc would have enjoyed the gathering, and the music (his favourite jugalbandi by Ustad Bismillah Khan and Ustab Vilayat Khan), the photos (we put together a slide show), the videos (including a clip from the last interview he did, the week before being admitted to hospital and a few clips from a discussion with Dr Yusuf Ali & Dr Ghalib in London I’d recorded in 2001), the tributes and the resolve to move ahead and continue the struggle.

Mairaj Mohammed Khan, Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim, Salima Hashmi, Dr Badar Siddiqui, Dr Tipu Sultan and others spoke very movingly and from the heart. Tina Sani sang a Faiz poem she had composed, and Arshad Mahmud recited a couple of other Faiz poems for Doc. Aisha Gazdar video taped the event and so did Samaa TV. His Zakia Sarwar also spoke towards the end, very bravely, on what he had meant to her.

Links to a couple of reports about the event:

Progressive student leader remembered – http://tinyurl.com/sarwar-pma-dawn

‘Time to create a left-oriented think tank’ – http://tinyurl.com/sarwar-pma-news

And some earlier reports
In memory of Dr Mohammad Sarwar, The News, May 27, 2009
By Shahid Husain – http://tinyurl.com/sarwar-news

Ahmed Reza, BBC Urdu, 26 may, 2009
http://tinyurl.com/sarwar-bbc

Student politics pioneer Dr M Sarwar passes on, Tuesday, 26 May, 2009
http://tinyurl.com/sarwar-dawn

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