A book entitled, Raahguzar To Dekho, was recently published to acknowledge the more than five decades of struggle Karamat Ali, leader of labor rights and executive director of the Pakistan Institute of Labor Education and Research (Piler), in the trade sector. trade unions, political left and the democratic movement in the country.
Compiled and edited by Dr Syed Jaffer Ahmed, former director of Karachi University’s Center for Pakistani Studies, the book has been published by the Institute for Historical and Social Research (IHSR). This is based on Ali’s detailed interview conducted by Dr Ahmed.
The book is an interesting narrative from Ali’s experiences in various student, labor, left and peace movements over the past 50 years.
In his foreword, Dr Ahmed, who is currently the director of IHSR, wrote that the aim of this book is to preserve Ali’s personal knowledge of historical records over the past six decades in Pakistani politics, in particular the labor movement, through interviews.
From a working class family, Ali was born in Multan, two years before Partition. His father worked as a department worker.
Ali himself worked in a factory and attended Government Emerson College in Multan in 1962.
According to the book, at that time, a group of 12 National Student Federation (NSF) activists, who were driven out of Karachi by the Ayub Khan regime for their political activities, visited Multan. They include Ali Mukhtar Rizvi, Mairaj Muhammad Khan, Fatehyab Ali Khan, Nafees Siddiqui, Baqir Askari, Johar Hussain and others. “We arranged a sit-in in Multan to demand that the authorities let NSF leaders be allowed to remain there.”
In 1963, Ali moved to Karachi to live with his eldest sister and from here his journey for labor rights began. He joined a factory in the Shershah area and also attended the SM Science College.
“The workers movement of 1963 was the first strong movement in Karachi. I did not attend the rallies that ran from Barha Council to Shershah but I became familiar with the unions. Our factory is also closed due to protests, “he said.
Due to his acquaintance with NSF leaders in Multan, Ali joined a group of leftist students and began taking part in the anti-Ayub Khan movement in the late 1960s. “When Ayub Khan kicked out Zulfikar Ali Bhutto from the position of foreign minister, we invited him to a meeting near Gurumandir where he mobilized students.”
Ali said that a group of NSF led by Mairaj Muhammad Khan joined the newly formed Bhutto party but that other groups led by Rasheed Hasan Khan, including him, opposed the decision to join Pakistan.
“During that time, Maulana Abdul Hameed Bashani, a leader of the National Awami Party, inspired us and we took part in political activities and agitation during the period October 1968 to March 1969.”
In 1969, Ali joined the Muttahida Workers’ Federation, a trade union group formed by the mobilization of veteran Karachi labor leaders Usman Baloch and Shah Raza Khan.
The book discusses in detail the weakening of the labor movement in Karachi. Ali said the Bhutto government jailed a large number of people during the 1972 labor movement.
Only months have passed since the inauguration of the Bhutto government when protests erupted in the SITE area on June 7. On the second day of the protests, nine workers had lost their lives. It started with workers from the Feroz Textile Factory protesting outside the factory over unpaid wages and wages
“After the incident, factory owners and the labor office also circulated active photos of trade union activists. In addition, the textile crisis has affected the textile sector, which is highly mobilized for workers. After that, the oil crisis caused several industries to close down, “he said.
“Because of that, until early 1975, most of the active trade union activists, mostly from the Swat valley, left for their hometowns and went to the bay.
Ali also described the role of the workers’ settlements (called Chalis) established in Karachi in the 1960s and 1970s, and the patterns of Pashtun migrant workers, explaining their social networks (the whipping system), and the political mobilization between them.
One chapter of the book describes Ali’s involvement in left-wing politics and what happened after the banning of the National Awami Party was followed by the formation of the National Democratic Party (NDP), the Awami National Party and the Pakistan National Party (PNP). ).
Ali has also analyzed the gaps created between the nationalist leadership of Baloch and the Pashtuns and the division of Pakistan’s left into pro-Soviet and pro-China (Maoist) factions.
Because of Sherbaz Mazari’s inclination towards right-wing politics and Wali Khan’s insistence on reactionary politics, most like-minded people decided not to join the NDP and instead joined PNP formed by Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, he said.
Ali talks a lot about many important figures related to politics, trade unions and the peace movement in his book. They include Maulana Abdul Hameed Bashani, Sadequain, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Professor Karar Hussain, Subho Gyan Chandani, Rasool Bux Palijo, Omar Asghar Khan, Justice Durab Patel, Akhtar Hameed Khan, BM Naqvi, Nirmala Deshpande, BM Kutty, Ghulam Kibria, Praful Bidwai, Dr Zaki Hasan, and others.
Ali also described how Piler was formed and its contribution to the labor movement in Indonesia.