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A metaphor of resistance

A biography of Jam Saqi, a die-hard left-wing leader widely hailed as the voice of the common people

A metaphor of resistance

Jam Saqi’s name is synonymous with everlasting struggle, utmost dedication, and steadfastness amidst difficult times. Due to these traits, his name resonates in left-wing politics even today and he is regarded as a legend of sorts. Off and on, he is pleasantly remembered by his comrades Since we need to give due space to these men of conscience who waged battles for the political and social uplift of the common people of Pakistan, it is commendable that he has left behind such a positive legacy.

Ahmad Salim and Nuzhat Abbas, the duo that wrote this biography of the fiery Jam Saqi, should be lauded for attempting to set the record straight. Such endeavors play a crucial role in acquainting our younger generations with the sons of the soil who refused to cow down to repressive state authorities.

Ahmad Salim is an indefatigable writer who has written and edited scores of books focused on similar politics, and more are in the pipeline. Salim plans to write more on Pakistan’s left-wing workers and leaders in recognition of their championing the cause of the downtrodden.

Nuzhat Abbas, also a coauthor, has interviewed Saqi many times and it was her desire to use these interviews for compiling a biography of her hero, Jam Saqi.

The result of their concerted effort is the seven-chapter Jam Saqi, Chaly Chalo Kay Wo Manzil Abhi Nahi Aai.

The book commences from Saqi’s early days in Tharparkar, Sindh, where he was born in 1944 to Muhammad Bachal, a primary school teacher. From there Saqi moved to Hyderabad where he was first introduced and then hooked to the country’s left-wing politics. A large part of this addiction was due to Inayatullah, one of his teachers who was an underground worker of the Communist Party of Pakistan. After that there was no looking back. He worked day in and day out for a classless and just society based on the principles of the left-wing manifesto.

Even during Bhutto’s era, he proved to be a thorn in the eyes of the state and was intermittently incarcerated and constantly harassed.

According to the book, Saqi was at the forefront of many leftist activities while in Hyderabad. Along with his comrades, he ran a campaign against the One Unit and wrote pamphlets denouncing the oppressive political order. He laid the foundation of the progressive students’ body under the name of ‘Hyderabad Students Federation’ and later ‘Sindh National Students Federation’. Through such student bodies Saqi was able to bring together like-minded students of the province to rally under one umbrella.

And so a stage was set for waging a long struggle in which Saqi had to undergo many hardships. He was constantly in and out of jail but this did not dampen his revolutionary spirit. From Hyderabad, Saqi graduated into a die-hard left-wing leader who was widely respected and hailed as the voice of the common people.

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However, Saqi was maligned at the behest of the powers that be and as he got more influential he was branded as an enemy agent amongst other slanderous accusations. These accusations were nothing but a pack of lies. Every true revolutionary pays a heavy price for his stance and so was the case with Saqi. During one of his imprisonments there were rumours that Saqi had been killed. This caused much grief to his beloved wife, Sukhan, who committed suicide by throwing herself in a well.

Even during Bhutto’s era, he proved to be a thorn in the eyes of the state and was intermittently incarcerated and constantly harassed. Saqi was also falsely embroiled in a dubious case. The case became famous in our political history because stalwarts such as Benazir Bhutto, Wali Khan and others appeared before the court to support him; he thus became a metaphor of resistance and struggle for all Pakistan’s progressive people. Ultimately, he was released and when he landed in Lahore he received a hero’s welcome.

The disintegration of USSR was a setback for people like him because their bastion had crumbled. Till his last breath, however, he espoused the ideals of a peaceful Pakistan with equal rights to all the marginalised people of the country.

Salim and Abbas have produced a valuable political document that should be read by all serious readers.

Jam Saqi Chalay Chalo Kay Wo Manzil Abhi Nahi Aaai
Authors: Ahmad Salim and Nuzhat Abbas
Publisher: Jumhoori Publications, Lahore
Pages: 264
Price: Rs800

Altaf Husain Asad

altaf asad
The author is a freelance journalist based in Islamabad.

One comment

  • Post 1992 history and thoughts of Jam Saqi is largely missing in the book that looks strange. Jam Saqi criticism on the working and disintegration of karachi based communist party (nazish-jamal group) is also missing in review.

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