Speakers shower tribute on AWP president, call for unity of the Left, progressive forces to struggle for social change
Karachi, 6th Nov: Hundreds of political workers, intellectuals, trade unionists and ordinary citizens from all walks of life gathered on Sunday at a memorial reference at the Karachi Arts Council to hail the life and struggle of Awami Workers Party (AWP) president Yousuf Mustikhan who passed away in late September after a long battle with cancer.
At a time when the political mainstream is obsessing about ruling class intrigues featuring bourgeois politicians and the military establishment, the commemoration of Yousuf Mustikhan turned into a rallying cry for a rehabilitated left-wing political alternative that can bring together all progressive segments to organize the most downtrodden segments of society for genuine social change.
Speaking on the occasion, AWP acting president Akhtar Hussain, general-secretary Bakhshal Thalho, deputy general-secretary Aasim Sajjad, Baba Jan of AWPGB and Nisar Shah of JKAWP said that Yousuf Mustikhan represented that rare breed of politician who remained committed to speaking truth to power and standing with oppressed nations, women, religiously persecuted groups and the working masses until his last breath.
Even as he struggled with cancer, the AWP president trumped mainstream politicians by actively resisting the land-grabbing of big housing schemes like Bahria Town under the guise of the Indigenous Rights Alliance in Karachi, and also went to jail for sedition in Gwadar earlier this year for supporting the protest movement of local fishing communities.
Yousuf Mustikhan epitomized a genuinely progressive politics in an era where ties to the military establishment and profiteering represent the primary goals of mainstream politicians and youth today must tread this path.
Akhtar Mengal of the BNP noted that Yousuf Mustikhan stood alone within the annals of Baloch nationalist politics because he repeatedly refused to compromise on his principles. He was offered numerous shortcuts to becoming an MPA or MNA by the establishment but refused on every occasion because he maintained that the resolution to the Baloch predicament in Pakistan was in the unconditional right to self-determination.
Afzal Khamosh of the Mazdoor Kissan Party said that Yousuf Mustikhan spoke up fearlessly against the militarization of state and society, urging progressive forces to close ranks to push back the religious right and establishment.
He was a fierce advocate for missing persons as well as a recalibration of Pakistan’s foreign and economic policies away from the national security state, and it is by taking on such positions that progressives can regain the space that reactionary forces currently occupy in Pakistani society, economy and polity, otherwise politics will remain hostage to the establishment and politicians that take turns to do its bidding.
Tahir Bizenjo of the National Party recounted that Yousuf Mustikhan was the closest disciple of Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, and continued to insist that the class and national questions must be addressed in unison otherwise hateful politics can never be displaced.
Other speakers included Alya Bakhshal of the Women’s Democratic Front (WDF), Noor Ahmed Kathiar of the Awami Tehreek, Laal Shah of Awami Jamhoori Party, Jalal Mahmood Shah of the Sind United Party, senior journalist Mazhar Abbas, Yousuf Mustikhan’s daughter Nazia and Zamin Changezi of Hazara Syasi Karkunan.