Our cherished Comrade Jam Saqi passed away at the age of 74 last Monday. He remained a committed communist and steadfast believer in the socialist revolution till his last breath. The last political activity he engaged in was his speech on November 26, 2017, at the inauguration ceremony of Urdu translation of Leon Trotsky’s masterpiece “History of The Russian Revolution” at the Hyderabad Press Club. Comrade Saqi expressed his unflinching commitment to communism and his belief in the socialist revolution for a prosperous future of the human race. Despite his fragile physical condition and illness, he made this arduous effort to attend an event commemorating the centenary of the Bolshevik revolution.
A retired primary teacher, Inayat Ullah Dhamchar had put Jam in touch with the underground Communist Party of Pakistan, of which he later became the General Secretary. Comrade Saqi became a fiery student leader and founded Sindh National Students Federation (SNSF) – a student wing of Communist Party on November 3, 1968. In an interview with a mainstream newspaper decades later, Comrade Jam had said, “Small wonder, then, that Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) emerged victorious in (1970 elections) Sindh and Punjab, Awami League in East Pakistan and National Awami Party in North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Balochistan. All of them had socialist leanings.”
However in the same interview, Jam had regretted that while Bhutto and Maulana Bhashani openly espoused socialism — the communist cadre was taught to refrain from vying for revolutionary socialism and remained confined to the slogan of national democratic revolution. This was comrade Jam Saqi’s first public critique of the ideological positions of the pro-Moscow and pro-Peking communist parties that had a significant base amongst students, peasants, workers and political activists in those days.In March 1971,Jam Saqi had lead rallies in Hyderabad and Nawabshah against the atrocities of the military junta in East Bengal. Jam Saqi was one of the rare sane voices, even amongst the left wing leaders who did not succumb to the patriotic chauvinism being whipped in both India and the Pakistan at the time. The strategists of the subcontinent’s ruling classes were terrified of the populist wave sweeping across the region. War hysteria was incited to disrupt this raging revolutionary movement.
In 1983, General Zia ul Haq unleashed ferocious brutality against unarmed and innocent Sindhi peasants, students and leftist activists to crush an uprising against his monstrous military dictatorship. Comrade Jam Saqi, along with several left wing activists was arrested by Zia’s military hacks and tried in a military court for allegedly acting against the ideology of Pakistan. Jam Saqi’s trial in the military court gained historic significance when stalwarts such as Benazir Bhutto, Mir Ghous Bux Bizenjo, Khan Abdul Wali Khan, Tahira Mazhar Ali Khan, Mairaj Mohammad Khan, Fatehyab Ali Khan, Maulana Shah Mohammed Amroti, Minhaj Burnaand others appeared as his defence witnesses. This case came to be renowned as the ‘Jam Saqi’ case. Inspite of these well-established witnesses, Jam was sentenced to nine years of rigorous imprisonment and tortured so grievously that he developed lifelong physical disabilities.
Comrade Saqi remained defiant against the reactionary Zia dictatorship. In the late 1970’s and 80’s, Comrade Jam Saqi had become an icon to students and political activists in the struggle against the vicious military regime. He was popular in the resistance movement that defied the might of the state, not just in Sindh but countrywide. He was a recognised communist fighter beyond Pakistan and was invited by the Communist Parties of India and other countries to participate in their congresses.
Comrade Jam had a sympathetic attitude towards the soldiers and lower ranks of the army and the police. He used to say; “These are proletarians in uniform… from our class and will eventually join the class struggle in the decisive moments of revolution”
Besides being a political activist, a revolutionary leader who inspired those struggling against the autocracy in Pakistan. Jam Saqi was also a proficient writer. He wrote the novel “Khahori Khijan”, a book about the Sindh students’ movement or “Sindh Ji Shagrid Tehreek”. His defiant and brave statements during the trial in the military’s Kangaroo Court were collected and published in two book formats,in Urdu and Sindhi, “Tareekh Moonkhay na Wesarreendi” (History can never relinquish me) and “Zameer ke Qaidi” (Prisoners of conscience).
Comrade Jam had a sympathetic attitude towards the soldiers and lower ranks of the army and the police. He used to say; “These are proletarians in uniform…from our class and will eventually join the class struggle in the decisive moments of revolution.” The fall of the Berlin Wall, capitalist degeneration of the Chinese Revolution and the collapse of the Soviet Union had devastating impacts on leftist activists and leaders. Indubitably Jam was also affected by these catastrophic events. The PPP leadership in Sindh tried to lure him into the politics of reformist capitalism, but deep inside — comrade Jam Saqi was never convinced by the narrative that ‘socialism as a viable socioeconomic system had failed’.
In the late 1990’s, comrade Jam Saqi came into contact with certain comrades of “The Struggle” who had predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union and had an optimistic vision of a socialist future. Comrade Jam Saqi joined “The Struggle” and was soon back in action as a communist activist and leader. Inspite of his old age,Jam Saqi was ever enthusiastic in the class struggle.
In his last speech at the launching ceremony at Hyderabad, Comrade Jamhad said, “Communists have always and shall always play a decisive role in changing the course of history… meeting with comrades — my pains vanish… only with the victory of the worker’s and peasant’s class struggle can this exploitation and tyranny be ended”. A few hours before he passed away, he told his son Sarang: “If I had to live again, I will tread the same path as there is no greater cause in life than to struggle for a revolutionary transformation of society.”
The writer is the editor of Asian Marxist Review and International Secretary of Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign. He can be reached at ptudc@hotmail. com
Published in Daily Times, March 12th 2018.