Notes From My Memory, Part VII, By Mir Thebo: Rasool Bux Palijo, a Politician, a Tactician & a Writer
by Mir Thebo
In early 1960s, Rasool Bux Palijo and I were neighbors in Rosy Corner flats in Hyderabad. Those were very dirty pigeon hole flats in Tando Wali Mohammad area. Palijo lived on 2nd floor while I lived on the 1st. floor. Occasionally I went to his flat. He had no furniture and no proper bed in the flat. Palijo hated cleanliness. One could rather say that he hated regular life therefore he didn’t like well-dressed petty bourgeoisie people. He never cared about food. Shoes would be lying over the floor. He had good collection of books but they would be scattered all over the place. He didn’t like to live there so most of the time he remained outside.
By profession, he was a lawyer, a mediocre advocate at that because he was not interested in practicing law, although he was intelligent and had a logical mind. He had a small office in the Circular Building, which didn’t look like a professional lawyer’s office. He didn’t care much about these things. He was a good reader though. He read non-fiction, fiction and poetry books. He loved Shah Latif’s poetry. He was also an admirer of Shaikh Ayaz’s poetry. In later period, he disowned Shaikh Ayaz and his followers glorified Ustad Bukhari more than Ayaz but they were friends during 1960s. Ayaz also liked Palijo.
Palijo also read Urdu, Russian, Chinese, English and Arabic literature. He had good knowledge of history and international situation. He also had a good knowledge of the history of Sindh. He was great at appreciating someone. He will make you fly higher and higher until you reach the top of the world. He would say things that will make you wonder if you really possessed such ‘qualities’ as mentioned by Palijo. But if you disagreed with him, he will throw you in the dust mercilessly so much so that he will not allow you even to protest. He is a witty person with good sense of humor. He has good hospitality. He will serve you meals and every thing including drinks, etc. I have few chances to drink with him along with other friends. I never observed him out of control but he is careful not to drink too much with casual visitors.
Palijo was a Marxist at that time. I don’t know if he still is or has changed as many of us old Marxists have said goodbye to our once favorite ideology of Marxism. During my last meeting with him at his residence in Naseem Nagar in 2005, he came across as neither a Marxist nor a Maoist. He didn’t mention either of them in his analysis. He sounded like a populist Sindhi nationalist political leader.
Palijo is considered to be a great tactician but sometimes he is caught in his own tactics and faces failure. Many times he has stumbled and fallen down but he has good stamina to rise up again and start a fresh. He is very swift in changing tactics and at that moment he never cares about the principles. Any way lets talk of his life of the earlier period of 1960s. As a politician, you will see his glimpses many times in my memoir.
In 1960s, Palijo was General Secretary, National Awami Party (NAP), Hyderabad City. NAP at that time was the open united front of the Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP) headed by Khan Abdul Wali Khan.
At that time Palijo looked more a man of literature than a politician. He had friendship with writers and poets like Mohammad Ibrahim Joyo, Shaikh Ayaz, Tanvir Abbasi, Rashid Bhatti, Ibn-e-Hayat Panhwar and Shamsher ul Haidri. Palijo also had good relations with G. M. Syed. He was an admirer of Syed and Syed also liked him. I really don’t know what compelled Palijo to jump into the hot waters of politics. Basically he was a man of literature and loved to live more blissful life with never ending passions.
In that period, there was a big controversy between progressive writers and the conservative group headed by Sardar Ali Shah from daily Mehran newspaper. Conservative group’s main target was Shaikh Ayaz. The group was also critical of other progressive writers; some of them were working with Sindhi Adabi Board. Ghulam Mohammad Grami wrote a brilliant article in quarterly Mehran ‘Mashrqi Shairi, sandas fani qadur ain un ja rujhanat‘ (Eastern poetry, its artistic values and its trends). Palijo wrote a masterpiece ‘andha undha wej’.
After 4th March, 1967, Palijo foresaw the rising tide of nationalism in Sindh and realized that the Communist Party was unable to coop with a Sindhi national movement so he distanced himself from the party and became an outspoken nationalist leader with socialist ideas. His friendship with the party finally ended after an unfortunate incident at a NAP Sindh meeting presided over by veteran leader Shaikh Abdul Majid Sindhi. A renowned advocate Hafiz Qureshi was also in the meeting. Qasim Pathar was with Palijo. Qasim was a member of the party (CP). He later became important figure in Palijo’s party with Mao’s thoughts. Then he was with GM Syed. Syed liked Qasim very much. Qasim was a long time friend of mine. Irrespective of his party positions and affiliations, we remained friends till he breathed his last.
Qasim Pathar was also with Palijo at our Indus Hotel meeting when he and his friends disrupted our function. I asked Qasim: ‘why you people are sabotaging our function’? He replied in a sadistic way: ‘don’t you know what happened in NAP meeting with Palijo? It is tit for tat.’ In the NAP meeting on some resolution on national question, Palijo challenged the Urdu-speaking leadership of the party and made some insulting remarks for them. When Shaikh Abdul Majid Sindhi tried to calm down Palijo, he didn’t even spare the much-respected veteran leader and uttered some derogatory remarks for him. At that moment one worker from GTS (Govt. Transport Workers Union) picked up a chair to hit Palijo but Dr Aizaz Nazir stood in between them and stopped the angry worker from hitting Palijo. Palijo always used to call Dr Aizaz in hatred Dr Shombe because of his dark complexion (leftists used to hate Shombe as after the death of one of Africa’s reputed nationalist leader of Congo, Americans had put him in the power as a puppet).
After that incident, Palijo became staunch enemy of the party. He in a short time organized some young enthusiastic nationalists like Masood Noorani, Yousuf Talpur, Iqbal Tareen and some others and brought them to our convention in the Indus Hotel. They one after the other forcibly snatched the mike and with rhetoric tried to exploit the national feelings of students from rural Sindh. Their main contention was: ‘why didn’t you guys invite us to participate in this function? Are we not Sindhis? Are we not progressives? You didn’t invite us because your ‘panahgir’ (refugees) leadership didn’t like us’, bla, bla, … From our side Jam Saqi who was elected president of SNSF, Mehar Hussain Shah who was elected VP, me elected as General Secretary, Shah Mohammad Shah Joint Secretary and Ahmed Khan Jamali who became president in 3rd convention of SNSF tried to control the damage done by them. After the convention we held a party meeting where student cadre put forward a proposal to hold another convention but the party took the position to announce the panel and not to hold another convention so we announced the panel in the press conference. This was the first progressive students organization on Sindh basis.
Ideological enemies together in central prison Hyderabad and celebrating Syed’s birthday in jail:
At that time, Ayub khan always put the political opponents behind the bars in Defense of Pakistan Rule (DPR). All dictators of the world are the same. They love to imprison, kill and torture opponents. Midnight knock at the door always gives shock to the political activists. I was in sound sleep when the knock at the door awakened me. It is strange that knock at the door in late hours of the night always creates some kind of unknown fear inside you. When I opened the door, I saw police and a police officer said you are under arrest under DPR. They took me to the Hyderabad Central Prison. There I saw other comrades also. Jam Saqi, Mehar Hussain Shah, Hidayat Hussain and Nadim Akhter were among them. The next day they brought Rasool Bux Palijo, Yousuf Talpur, Masood Noorani, Iqbal Tareen and Ghulam Mohammad Sario.
There was also a host political prisoner, the prisoner who was already there. He played the role of host, offered you something to eat and tea and told you the rules and regulation of the prison. That was comrade Ghulam Mohammad Laghari, the famous hari (peasant) leader of Sindh. He was in the jail for a long time. He welcomed us. He actually became very happy to see us. It is ironic to see other friends in prison and be happy. All political prisoners feel happy when they see other fellow political prisoners in jail. Comrade Laghari was alone in prison. He was khadar posh, tall, strong man with strong built but the longer term in jail had made him little bit sad.
There we celebrated the birth anniversary of G. M. Syed. Rasool Bux Palijo and others made very impressive speeches.
Courtesy: Indus Herald