Adieu Comrade Yousuf Mustikhan

With profound grief and sorrow, the leadership of the Awami Workers Party (AWP announce the passing away of Comrade Yousuf Mustikhan, a veteran Baloch progressive leader and President of the AWP. He lost the battle against liver cancer in the small hours of 29 September 2022 in Karachi. He was 74 years old. He lives behind three sons, three daughters, and numerous comrades and friends to mourn his death.

He had been suffering from liver cancer for the last few years of his life. He had decided to suspend regular chemotherapy treatment some months prior to his demise.

Wrapped in the party’s red and white colour flag, he was laid to rest at his ancestral graveyard at Mewa Shah, Liyari in the afternoon. A large number of people from all walks of life including politicians, lawyers, students, leaders of trade unions and peasants, KIRA-Karachi Indigenous Rights Alliance as well as party senior leaders and workers attended his funeral procession and laid floral wreaths on his grave.

A funeral prayer in absentia for the departed leader was offered at Peshawar Press Club which was attended by AWP KP chapter leaders and political leaders including Ghulam Ahmed Bilour (ANP), Afzal Khamosh (MKP), Shakeel Wahidullah, Dr Sarfaraz, Dr Mushtaq (PTM), Imdad Qazi (CPP) and other.

Life and struggle

A lifelong and passionate advocate of the Baloch national movement as well as Pakistan’s working classes, Yousuf Mustikhan was born in 1948, bred and lived his entire life in the metropolis of Karachi, twice running for elections from the historic Baloch area of Lyari. His involvement with the daily struggle of Karachi’s multi-ethnic working class and local populations was prominent till his last days, most notably under the guise of the Indigenous Rights Alliance which organized anti-eviction campaigns against the land grabbing antics of big real estate developers like Bahria Town.

Yusuf Masti Khan’s most active years in the political struggle were spent under the mentorship of renowned Baloch progressive, Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo. He was one of Mir Sahib’s closest companions throughout the high points of the National Awami Party government formation in Balochistan, the signing of the constitutional accord in 1973, and also after during the Hyderabad Conspiracy Trial after the dismissal of the NAP government. Many years later, when Mir Sahib passed away, Yusuf Masti Khan inherited the presidency of the Pakistan National Party (PNP) and remained the leader of the progressive-nationalist formation until he joined hands with Abid Hasan Minto, Akhtar Hussain and other stalwarts of the Pakistani left to form the National Workers Party in 1999.

While the end of the cold war signalled for many the permanent demise of left politics, Yousuf Mustikhan remained steadfast in the struggle against ethnic-national oppression, class exploitation and militarization. He was detained under colonial public order laws by the Musharraf dictatorship in 2007, his arrest one of the high prominent incidents that hastened the military regime’s demise.

In 2012, Yousuf Mustikhan was one of the moving forces for the formation of the AWP. At various points in the 10 years since the AWP’s creation, he served as Sindh President, federal senior vice president, and, finally, president. As late as last year, even as he struggled against cancer, Yousuf Mustikhan was on the frontlines of struggle with his beloved Baloch people in Gwadar, spending time in jail under trumped-up sedition charges for speaking at a sit-in of fisherfolk in the coastal town.

Yousuf Mustikhan was an icon of Baloch nationalism and left-progressive ideals. He spent all of his life embodying the principles for which he stood. His final contribution to the progressive cause was a poignant reminder of his commitments; in June 2022 he presided over the formation of the United Democratic Front (UDF), a broad-based progressive alliance that he believed was the need of the time to counter the growing influence of the military establishment, traditional bourgeois parties, religious right and new age reactionaries like Imran Khan. His passing deprives Pakistani progressives of much-needed leadership in the cause of unity, but his vision will continue to guide us.

Issued by:

Abid Hassan Minto, (founding President), Akhtar Hussain, (Sr Vice-President), Shahab Khattak, (VP), Abdullah Safi, (VP), Bakhshal Thalho, (general secretary), Javed Akhtar, (Organising Secretary), Haider Zaman, (President AWP-KP), Yousuf Kakar, (President Balochistan), Zia Bhatti, (President, Sindh), Farhat Abbas, (President, Saraiki-Waseb), Ammar Rashid, (President, Punjab), Dr Ahmed Tauheed (UK), Pervez Fateh (Northern London), Baba Jan, (Chairman, AWPGB), Nisar Shah, (Chairman, JKAWP), Dr Farzana Bari (secretary women), Ismat Shahjahan (secretary Arts and Culture), Abida Choudhry (GS Punjab).