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Gomal University 5

Fayyaz Baqir

March 3rd, 2017

 

 

In January 1976 Sindhi Awami Tehreek (SAT) held a Hari Conference at Bathoro. I was invited as a member of MKP delegation from Punjab.  We were invited as special guests and seated at the podium – a long mud plastered platform- during one of the sessions. I travelled with Imtaiz Alam, Ramzan Jani. Sufi Sibghat Ullah and Waheed. Dr. Feroz Ahmad and MKP’s Shamim Alam came from Karachi. Rasool Bakhsh Paleejo was in jail but his wife Zarina Baloch sang revolutionary songs and many poets recited revolutionary poetry in a highly charged manner. The Conference was very well organized and we got the opportunity to talk to many of SAT’s leaders, and workers. We came back very inspired. SAT had a superb organizational capacity and its workers were very well versed in delivering its well-articulated narrative. Since we made the trip by train, it provided me a unique opportunity to hear Sufi Sibghat Ullah’s amazing tales of struggle and survival in the treacherous world of the lumpen proletariat of Karachi and life threatening and soul-wrecking feudal landscape of Rahim Yar Khan. I shall narrate some of his stories separately.  

   

During this period Chief Minister of NWFP Inayat Ullah Gandapur flew to Dera Ismail Khan. At the airport, PPP’s firebrand General Secretary led a protest march to receive him. Inayat Ullah was infuriated on this treatment and opened machine gun fire on the crowd killing Farooq and many of his companions and injuring many more. After this savage act, he made a round of the city in an open jeep brandishing a machine gun in his hand. It was a big shock for PPP workers and it extremely demoralized them. PPP workers expected some retaliation from their leadership. To cool the tempers of the workers Inayat Ullah Khan was sent to jail. Umer Farooq Miankhel’s father had applied for PPP’s ticket for the Provincial Assembly seat. Inayatullah was also a candidate for the same seat. Umer was very confident of getting the ticket now. He asked for my opinion. I said Inayatullah will get the ticket. He was not sure if he heard me right. He asked me again and I said the same thing. Why? he said. “Inayatullah has brutally killed a renowned PPP leader and so many workers. Why do you think that Bhutto will give him the ticket”. I said, “Bhutto wants to consolidate his power so he will make an alliance with the powerful not the weak”. That is what exactly happened. Umer Khan now had full faith that I understood politics. He also realized that we had a strongly interdependent relationship in politics and we must support each other to play our role effectively.

 

Some years later during Zia ul Haq’s time when workers in Colony Textile Mills Multan were massacred due to his tacit support to the mill owner’s family, we decided to carry out a mass protest rally in DIK. Local administration had clamped section 144 and banned any public gatherings or processions. We decided to defy 144 and court arrests. Our allies from all coalition groups came out with banners to Bhakari Bazar and started raising slogans while marching to the Police station. Police took the main leaders in custody and dispersed the rest. I was among the one’s rounded up by the Police. When Umer heard this he came to the Police station and said to me’ “your job is to stay behind the scene and guide. It is our job to court arrest. We want you to keep your job and stay here”. I argued but he took my place and sent me out. This collaboration continued. We worked under the organizational discipline of different parties; held joint study circles and collaborated on public meetings and protest marches according to our party guidelines.

 

We also arranged joint social and cultural events which included dhanwni and Suhbat. Dhanwni and Suhbat are special forms of celebration in Dera Ismail Khan. Dhanwni in Siraiki means taking bath but it is a term used for having a picnic on the riverside, which includes swimming, cooking and eating meat and halwa.  Suhbat means cooking meat and then mixing pieces of thin bread called mana in it. It is served in big round trays and eaten together. It is very delicious. Everybody eats with hands and people from higher or lower status sit together to eat. Both are predominantly male activities. Women do make Suhbat at home for family gatherings. However, in male gatherings, males themselves make Suhbat and many of our friends from upper strata loved making Suhabt for a get together of friends. Another common pursuit was fishing in Dhunds. Dhund is a pool of water which is formed after river shrinks in winter and recedes to a smaller size leaving behind lots of fish in the riverbed in Indus known as Katcha.    

 

 

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

          

 

 

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