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MKP 1 Farishton ney jisay sajda kiya thaa

Fayyaz Baqir

March 8th, 2017

 

 

During one of my visits to Lahore from DIK in 1975 I was approached by Imtiaz Alam and Professor Zafar Ali Khan to join Mazdoor Kissan Party. After leaving NSO I had decided not to join any political group or party. The time, energy and restrictions imposed by working in a party felt very suffocating to me. We had a long discussion but the gentlemen asked me to give it a try to see if it suits me. I agreed. I was asked to help MKP’s work at two levels; lead the core group behind the student wing of MKP Inqalabi Mahaz e Talba (Revolutionary Student Front); and work with the peasant and workers’ groups of local chapters of MKP in DIK, Bhakkar, Darya Khan and Mianwali.

 

I was assigned to write the manifesto of Inqalabi Mahaz e Talaba (IMT) in Punjabi, participate in party study circles in my area and attend public events in various areas of Punjab. During the course of next 4 years, I participated in public events in local and provincial peasant conferences in Bahawalnagar, Wan Bhacharan and Vehari and joined MKP delegation to Sindh to attend Sindhi Hari Conference. The IMT manifesto that I wrote was very well received, thoroughly discussed in inner circles and published. IMT had a very dynamic and vibrant group at National College of Arts (NCA) consisting of Taqi Nayab, Shahbaz Khan, Afzal Malik, Tasneem Rizvi, Ghulam Nabi and many others. IMT worked both at the cultural and political level among the students. Among our close comrades outside NCA was Arshad Mir, who was a student of Oriental College at that time and was a great poet. I still remember a couplet written by Arshad Mir. I heard it from him and I am sure it was his couplet.

 

Farishton Ne Jisay Sajda Kiya Tha

Woh Kal Foot Path per Murda Para Tha

 

It meant the being before whom the angels prostrated, was lying dead on the sidewalk yesterday. NCA college hostel was located near MAO college building and we used to hang out at a roadside dhaba (tea shop) there for Bun Pluster (bun fried in the egg) lunch or tea. A regular guest at this dhaba used to be Dr, Saleem Wahid Saleem. Dr. Saleem used to spend his entire day on the dhaba and was offered free tea and meals by the owner with utmost love and affection. Dr. Saleem used to keep shouting meaningful and meaningless phrases, some of which cannot be reproduced here. He would very often say pagal awazain (made voices). People who knew him narrated that he was a gifted poet and at some point in time was associated with the Communist Party. He was arrested and tortured and lost his senses due to unbearable torture. NCA students used to talk to him and at times enjoyed his beautifully articulated obscene remarks on the lust for accumulating wealth and power. We had two hangouts for meeting political activists, poets and artists; the canteen outside MAO college and MKP office in Begum Pura near Mazang road. Our close circle at this time include Khalid Mahmood, Taqi Nayab, Tasneem Rizvi, Shahbaz  Khan and Arshad Mir.

 

Arshad Mir wrote in Punjabi as well and so did Mian Saleem Jahangir, District President of MKP and renowned lawyer. I still remember his inspirational lines

 

Raat Pechley Peher toon langh rai hey

Lali fajar de khanb khilardi pai

Dulle Bhatti de anakh de warsaan noo

Lok lehr bohey wajaan mardi pai

Ghera be nyai de burjiaan noon aj than than utte pey gia hey

Kothi dharkadi pai pair thirkdey pey

Toly zalman di ji hardi pai

 

It meant, it is the last part of the night; red hues of the of the morning are spreading their wings; the wave of mass uprising is knocking at the door of the descendents of Dulla Bhatti’s honour; The small towers of injustice have been encircled at every point now; oppressor's  hearts are trembling, their feet are shaking; their band is losing heart.

 

MKP’s style of work, understanding of ground reality and reach out to the people was far superior to Professor’s Group, although cynics like Allama Siddiq Azhar in MKP used to say, Major Ishaq is a good man, even though he is not a Marxist. MKP published a regular party journal edited by Faisalabad’s Manzoor Niazi. This circular published MKP’s official line on various political issues. MKP's literature included books like Hasan Nasir Ki Shahadat, and Punjabi plays like Musalli, and Quqnus (phoenix) written by Major Ishaq and many other publications on Pakistan’s political dynamics. MKP also welcomed Feroz Ahmad and Ijaz Ahmad in its ranks for initiating dialogue with its cadre on current issues.

 

MKP also claimed to have the capacity to wage armed struggle and flexed its armed muscles in Hashtnagar (8 villages) against local Chiefs (Khwaneen). It was a struggle against land owners, not the state. MKP’s critics blamed it for staging this armed conflict in connivance with PPP to twist the arm of NAP leadership. Federal Minister of PPP government Meraj Mohammad Khan specially came to address a big public rally in the area supporting the cause of MKP ‘warriors’. But MKP no doubt weakened the power of Khan’s in Hashtnagar area.MKP also claimed that 200 of its workers sacrificed their lives in the fight against feudal lords. For some of them, Faiz Sahib’s line hum jo tareek rahoon mein marey gai (we who were killed in dark alleys) is absolutely true. One of them was a peasant Dur Muhammad from Bangla Ichha Rahim Yar Khan, who was hung upside down on a tree and burnt to death by the ‘noble political and spiritual elite’ of the area. However, this individual heroism did not transform into collective relentless rebellion.  

 

In Punjab MKP’s big asset was a large group of brilliant, fearless and seasoned workers in rural areas. Their work could not consolidate itself into a mass struggle. We need more personal and analytical accounts to understand this failure.  MKP’s workers were down to earth and committed and I would describe some of my important encounters with them in the next posts.   

 

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