AWP mourns passing of two veteran leaders of peasants, trade union movements

Party will observe two-day mourning, pays homage to Choudhry Fateh Muhammad and Yusuf Baloch

The Awami Workers Party (AWP) announces with profound grief and sorrow the passing of Choudhry Fateh Muhammad, a veteran peasant and socialist leader and founding president of the party’s Punjab chapter.

The party also expresses grief over the passing of trade union leader Yusuf Baloch earlier during the Eid weekend.

Veteran revolutionary peasant leader Choudhry Fateh Muhammad

“The party leadership and workers are saddened at the passing of the two leaders who remained committed to the causes of the working class and peasants till the last breath of their lives.

“The party pays homage to the life, struggle and sacrifices of the two leaders and reaffirms the commitment to carry forward their legacies and struggle for the emancipation of working people, oppressed religious/ethnic minorities, women, girls and the wretched of the earth more generally.

Chaudhry Fateh Mohammad leaves behind five sons — Naeem Fateh, Dr Javed Fateh, Pervez Fateh, Saleem Fateh, Nadeem Fateh, — and two daughters — Dr Yasmin Ashraf, Nazneen Saleem, grandchildren and thousands of comrades to mourn his death.

In a condolence message, AWP founding President Abid Hassan Minto said: “In the passing of Choudhry Fateh Muhammad, I have lost a great comrade and a genuine working-class revolutionary. For me, his physical transition to the immortal life is like separation of an arm of my body. But his memories and will always remain with us and inspire the younger generation, he said.

Recalling his five decades association and fond memories with C.R. Aslam and Choudhry sb, Mr Minto said Choudhry sb not only belonged to the working-class family but also had the knowledge and understanding of the history, ideals of the working class and conscious struggle for their rights.

He dreamed of a social change in Pakistan and struggled for it throughout his life.

Mr Minto said Choudhry sb played key role in organising the peasant movement throughout the country and the historic Toba Tek Singh Kissan Conference in 1970 that not only set the stage for the remarkable victories of socialist candidates across Pakistan in the general elections but for two successive land reform legislations in 1972 and 1977.

Not only he dedicated his life for his ideals but also inspired his children and his whole family to participate in the struggle for building a working-class and peasant movement and for setting up an egalitarian society.

“I salute his struggle and sacrifices and hope that his children and the party leadership and workers will carry on his mission,” Mr Minto said.

AWP President Yousuf Mustikhan said, “we have lost a great revolutionary, a comrade and an imitable human being”. Chaudhry Fateh Muhammad was an inspiration for all the progressive political activists as he remained committed to the revolutionary cause and dedicated his life for the oppressed classes.

AWP secretary-general Akhtar Hussain Advocate in his condolence message said: “It’s a great loss not only to the party but the whole progressive and peasant movements.” Choudhry Fateh Muhammad struggled for the abolition of feudalism.

The party pays tributes to the struggle and sacrifices of Comrade Fateh Mohammad and declares two days mourning. He directed all party units to suspend all activities for two days and organise condolence meetings to highlight the great leader’s struggle.

AWP Deputy Secretary-general Ismat Shahjehan paid tribute to the lifelong struggle of Comrade Fateh Muhammad who remained committed to the cause of peasants till the last breath of his life.

“We will carry forward his legacy and continue the struggle for the rights of the oppressed nations, women, and minorities and for establishing a society free from exploitation and oppression,” she commented.

“We the comrades of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are deeply aggrieved on the death of Chaudhry Fateh Mohammed, who struggled for the rights of the peasants for many decades,” said Haider Zaman Akhundzada, President, KP chapter of the AWP

He will be remembered for his firm commitment to the politics of toiling people, particularly Kisan movement.

AWP Punjab President Ammar Rashid expressed deep sorrow at the passing of the revolutionary peasant leader and the AWP Punjab founding President.

He dedicated his entire life in service to the revolutionary struggle for socialism and leaves a rich and enduring legacy of grassroots struggle against feudalism and capitalism.

“Today we salute his struggle and pay tribute to his lifelong commitment to the emancipation of the oppressed. We resolve to carry forward his legacy from where he departed,” Mr Rashid said.

Sindh President Bakhshal Thalhu, Balochistan President Yousuf Kakar AWPAJK chairman Nisar Shah Advocate and AWPGB leaders Akhtar Amin, Anayat Baig, and Akhun Bai also expressed sorrow at the passing of the two veteran peasants and trade union leader.

Life and Struggle

Comrade Fateh Muhammad was born in a small village Chaharke near Jullundur in 1925. He migrated to Pakistan in 1947 and settled in a village in Toba Tek Singh, a centre of Kissan movement in Punjab.

He joined the Communist Party of Pakistan in 1948 and was elected member of the Central Committee of Pakistan Trade Union Federation in 1950, where Faiz Ahmed Faiz was re-elected as vice-president and Mirza Mohammad Ibrahim as president.

He was jailed twice for his committed activism for progressive causes, once during the first martial law regime of General Ayub Khan when he was kept in the infamous Lahore Fort (then Lahore Jail) and Lyallpur Jail, during which he developed a strong bond with fellow prisoner Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

With the outlawing of the CP, upon his release Chaudhry sb and his fellow comrades joined Mian Iftikharuddin to form the Azad Pakistan Party which was later merged in the National Awami Party (NAP) at the Dhaka congress on September 25, 1957.

Upon release from jail, he devoted himself to organising peasants’ conferences which culminated in the historic Kisan conference on 22nd March 1970 at Toba Tek Singh. Organised and supported by the major progressive and Left figures, including Faiz and attended by over 300,000 people, this conference, played a major role in initiating land reforms and in the future politics of Pakistan.

Convinced in his belief that a united political party of the Left is vital for any social change, Chaudhry sb was instrumental in helping to bring about the merger of five Left parties/groups that created the AWP in 2012.

Widely respected for his political principles, internationalism, boundless energy and optimism in a brighter and egalitarian future, Choudhry Fateh Mohammad has remained an inspirational and committed activist for peasants’ rights through the decades of ravages that progressive movements have suffered in Pakistan.

A recipient of Faiz Ahmed Faiz Award for his lifelong struggle for the rights of peasants, he got his autobiography titled ‘Jo Hum Pey Guzri’ published in 2016. The book is a comprehensive history of the persecution and state repression on the progressive forces, Left politics and struggle of peasant and working classes since the Independence and some important incidents which he witnessed as an activist.

The late leader was founding president of Pakistan Kissan Rabta Committee when it was formed in 2007.

Trade union leader Yusuf Baloch

Yusuf Baloch

Yusuf Baloch was the Chairman of the Pakistan Workers Federation, the biggest confederating body of trade unions in the country. He was also a long-time leader of the renowned Railways Workers Union, and a companion of the legendary Mirza Ibrahim, making him a long-time leftist who came of age during the heady revolutionary upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s.

With the fall of the Soviet Union and the decline of the organized labour movement, Yusuf Baloch kept the revolutionary flag flying as a leader of the Labour Party Pakistan (LPP), one of the component parties that came together to form the AWP in 2012. He also remained part of the Railways trade union resistance to the regime of ex DG ISI General Javed Ashraf who was appointed Railways minister during the Musharraf dictatorship.