By Lal Khan
Our cherished Comrade Jam Saqi passed away at the age of 74 on Monday in Hyderabad after a prolonged illness. He remained a committed communist and a steadfast believer in the socialist revolution till his last breath. The last public appearance and the political activity, Comrade Jam Saqi participated in was on 26th November 2017, The Struggle Publication and Pakistan Trade Unions Defence Campaign (PTUDC) inauguration ceremony of Urdu translations of Leon Trotsky’s masterpiece “History of Russian Revolution” at the Press Club Hyderabad where Comrade jam Saqi was the chief guest. Comrade Saqi elucidated to the world of his unflinching commitment to communism and his belief in the socialist revolution for a prosperous future of the human race. He attended this book launch ceremony in his wheelchair and was very frail and ill. He came to the meeting inspite of his fragile physical condition and his wheelchair had to be carried up the stairs by the comrades to the third floor of the Hyderabad press club’s auditorium.
Comrade jam Saqi was born in the village Janjhi, in the Tharparkar district of Sindh. His father Muhammad Sachal was an educationalist and a well-known social worker. Jam was very inspired by his father and learned a lot in his childhood of the capitalist exploitation and feudal repression through the work and experiences of his father. He used to narrate these events and struggle till the last years of his life with his eyes shining and a passionate expression. Comrade Jam passed his matriculation examinations from Local Board High School, Chhachhro in 1962. Later, he studied at Government College, Sachal Sarmast, Arts College Hyderabad, and Sindh University, Jamshoro from where he did his Master’s. Comrade Jam enthusiastically used to narrate the story of how a retired primary teacher Inayat Ullah Dhamchar had put him in touch with the underground Communist Party of Pakistan.
Comrade Saqi became a fiery student leader of those stormy times when movements were erupting frequently in many and different parts of the world particularly in the former colonial world in Asia, Middle East, Africa and Latin America. He founded Sindh National Students Federation (SNSF) – a student wing of Communist Party on November 3, 1968, of which he was elected as the founder president of this militant students organisation. In an interview to a mainstream newspaper decades later Comrade Jam reminiscing those times said, “small wonder, then, that Pakistan People’s Party emerged victorious in 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 leaning.”
However in the same interview Jam had regretted that while Bhutto and Maulana Bhashani openly espoused socialism, the communist cadre was taught to refrain themselves from revolutionary socialism and 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 the students, peasants, workers and political activists in those days. In 1971 when General Yahya and his generals refused to go back to the barracks and hand over power to awami League led by Sheikh Mujib Rehman and instead initiated military operation in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, Jam Saqi and his organization brought out rallies in Hyderabad and Nawabshah against the atrocities of the military junta in East Pakistan. Comrade Jam was one of the rare voices even in the left wing parties and leaders who did not succumb to the patriotic chauvinism being whipped up with warmongering slogans by the Indian and the Pakistani states. Their strategists were terrified from those mass upheavals that were sweeping the subcontinent and far beyond. The ruling elites with imperialist backing were hell bent on whipping up a hysteria of nationalism and warmongering to facilitate carrying out abuses of human rights on a monumental scale to deviate and disrupt the raging class struggle.
In 1983, General Zia ul Haq unleashed his military brutality against unarmed innocent Sindhi peasants, students and left activists to put down an uprising against his monstrous military dictatorship. Comrade Jam Saqi along with several other comrades of his organisation and left wing activists were arrested by Zia’s military hacks and were tried in a military court for acting against the ideology of Pakistan. Jam Saqi’s trail in the military court gained a historic significance when stalwarts, such as Benazir Bhutto, Baloch leader Mir Ghous Bux Bizenjo, Khan Abdul Wali Khan, Tahira Mazhar Ali Khan, Mairaj Mohammad Khan, Fatehyab Ali Khan, Maulana Shah Mohammed Amroti, Minhaj Burna, Shaikh Ali Mohammad, Shaikh Aziz and some other renowned journalists were called in as his defence witnesses. This case came to be renowned as the ’Communist case’ or the ‘Jam Saqi’ case. Inspite of these well-established witnesses Jam was sentenced to nine years of rigorous imprisonment. But he was also tortured so grievously that he developed lifelong physical disabilities fro that torment.
Comrade Saqi refused to budge and remained defiant to the brutal Zia dictatorship and his religious edicts enforced upon society through the state repression and the vigilante goons of the Islamicist parties that acted as the auxiliary branches of the state apparatus and B teams of Zia’s theocratic dictatorship’s orgy of violence. In the late 1970’ and 80’s Comrade Jam Saqi had become an icon of the students, youth and political activists in the struggle against the vicious Zia dictatorship. He was popular in the movement that defied the might of the state not just in Sindh but also throughout Pakistan. He was cherished and respected also in India and was invited by the Communist Parties of India the other countries of Asia to participate in their congresses.
Jam Saqi had many other facets as well. Besides being a political activist, a revolutionary leader who inspired hundreds of the activists in Sindh and other parts of Pakistan comrade Jam was also an excellent writer. He wrote a novel “Khahori Khijan”, a book about the Sindh students’ movement that became to be known as the “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, both in Urdu and Sindhi, “Tareekh Moonkhay na Wesarreendi” (History can never relinquish me) and “Zameer ke Qaidi” (Prisoners of Conscious). In one of his writings during his incarcerations Comrade Jam wrote a deep and innovative analysis of the role of the state and the army.
He was always having 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 us in the time of the revolution.” However the fall of the Berlin Wall, capitalist degeneration of the Chinese Revolution and the collapse of the Soviet Union had devastating impacts on the left activists and leaders. Comrade jam Saqi no doubt was also affected by these events. The PPP leadership in Sind also did try to lure him in to politics of reformist capitalism but deep inside him comrade Jam was never convinced of the narrative of “the failure of socialism as a historical system”.
In the late 1990’s comrade Jam Saqi came into contact with the comrades of “The Struggle” who had not only predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union before it broke up from a marxist perspectives but were active in Sindh and throughout Pakistan. Comrade Jam Saqi joined “The Struggle” comrades and was back in action as a communist activist and leader spreading the ideology of Marxism. Inspite of his old age he was always agile and dedicated in the struggle for revolutionary socialism to transform society. Comrade jam Saqi was a modest and humane communist. His sincerity and passionate sentiments for his comrades were evident when he met comrades from other areas as he kissed them on the neck and cheeks with a warm hug.
In his last speech at the launching ceremony of ‘The History of the Russian Revolution’ on November 26th 2017 Comrade Jam Saqi said, “Communists have always and shall always play a decisive role to change the course of history… Whenever I meet comrades my tiredness and pain vanishes… only with the victory of the workers and peasants class struggle can this exploitation and tyranny be ended”. A few hours before he passed away, he told his son Sarang that, “ If I had to live again, I will tread on this same path as there is no greater cause in life than to struggle for a revolutionary transformation of society.”