By: Dr. Ahmed Makhdoom
Extremely saddened and shocked to learn about the passing-away of one of the most cherished, loved and illustrious son of Sindh, Saaeen Bashir Khan Qureshi.
The glorious ship of our motherland, Sindh, was so ably, bravely, passionately and fervently and, of-course, single-handedly, steered and guided by the indomitable, invincible and indefatigable will and leadership of Bashir Qureshi, the ardent believer and follower of the great Sindhi leader, Saaeen G.M. Syed’s legacy, and philosophy. Now, Sindh is left alone, bewildered, broken, shocked and in extreme pain and anguish.
Each and every time that I had an honour and privilege to visit my beloved Motherland on an annual pilgrimage, I was always blessed, illuminated and enriched by the few serene and tranquil moments that I had spent with Bashir Qureshi at his house at Gulshan-e-Hadeed, Karachi, Sindh just a walking distance from my brother’s house, where I used to stay.
We talked about Sindh, nothing but Sindh, because Sindh was his passion, the struggle for Free, Sovereign and Independent Sindh was his mission and the guiding of Sindh to take its historically-proclaimed rightful place amongst the community of the nations of the world was his vision as he always used to recite, with great gusto and fervour as well as tears in his eyes, this couplet of Saaeen Ustad Bukhari:
“Sindhu saan ahrree jindu jarree, jo mbiyaa dil waaraa wisree w1yaa,
Jiyei Sindhu sadaaeen jiyei, mbiyaa sabhu naaraa wisree wiyaa.” (Ustad Bukhari)
“Such is my love for Mother Sindh, Other beloveds all forgotten, ‘Long live, forever live, dearest Sindh!’ Yes, other slogans all forgotten.” (Ustad Bukhari: Translated by Ahmed Makhdoom)
Bashir Khan Qureshi was a leader par excellence and a human being extraordinaire. Personally, he was a wonderful friend and a very generous and hospitable carer and comforter to his guests at his home. As Chairman of Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM), (the Long Live Sindh National Front), he carried himself with great sense of responsibility and immaculate character.
I will sadly miss his inspiring company during my next and subsequent pilgrimages to my Motherland! The glorious land of Sindh and the generous and gregarious Sindhis will miss his wise helmsman-ship, courage, enthusiasm, patriotism and charismatic leadership.
Bashir Qureshi joined the movement for the liberation of Sindh from the ignominious chains of slavery brutally tightened around the neck of Sindh by the Punjab-dominated Pakistan in 1976 when he was just 17 years old. This movement known as Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) – Long Live Sindh National Front – was founded by the Great Helmsman of Sindh, G.M. Syed. As an ordinary worker and member of this Front, Bashir carried out his duties and responsibilities with great zeal and patriotic ideals, fervour and ardour, enthusiasm and exuberance and with remarkable energy and prowess.
During the 1980s, Saaeen G.M. Syed was jailed, even though he was old and feeble, and Bashir through has sagacity and love for Syed and Sindh organised many protest rallies and hunger strikes, where he was always in the forefront. After the passing-away of Saaeen G.M. Syed, the baton of leadership was passed over to Bashir Khan Qureshi, who performed his duties as a successor of the great Syed with so much bravado and competence, earnestness and eagerness and with complete reverence and loyalty to his Motherland, Sindh. During his Long March for the Freedom of Sindh he was threatened by the Pakistani Security establishment, shot at by the heartless and senseless Pakistani Armed Forces and savagely jailed for several years by the dictatorial Punjab-dominated Secret Service and Intelligence agencies of the failing state.
And, despite all brutalities and animal-like behaviour of Pakistani vile and arrogant authorities, Saaeen Bashir never lost his patience, calm-nature and candour. He mobilised Sindhi masses to carry out peaceful, non-violent Gandhi-like protests on the streets of cities, town and villages of Sindh from Karachi to Kashmore, many times bringing the heavily-armed savage Pakistani civil and martial authorities down onto their knees. He vociferously demanded the economical, linguistic, cultural, political and hereditary rights for the hapless, helpless and long-suffering people of Sindh.
Only recently in the month of March, 2012, he successfully organised a peaceful and non-violent 100 km long march right in the very heart of Sindh, the capital Karachi, demanding Independence and Sovereignty of Sindh. This Gandhian march of millions of Sindhi people, led by their effervescent and exuberant leader, brave and valiant leader, Bashir Qureshi, was peaceful, but extremely effective and message-giving. It brought shivers to the rank and files of the tyrannical and terrorist civil and martial forces of the savage Pakistani establishment, giving them this message: “Sindh is Alive! Sindh means business! Sindh want Freedom!
Perhaps, such a tremendous success of the march of the millions led by Bashir, jolted the authorities who had earlier killed and massacred in cold blood, many a Sindhi nationalists, including Z.A. Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto and the leaders of Jeay Sindh. They had to ‘remove’ Bashir Qureshi! And, they did it! Should Sindh and Sindhis take this calculated murder of their leader lying down? If Sindhis call themselves the sons and daughters of their Jeejal Sindh, then they must STAND UP and BE COUNTED!
It is no point demanding and screaming for Justice for ‘Justice’ in this savage state is dead and gone! Did Benazir get any justice? Countless murdered Sindhi Nationalists – did they receive any justice? It is hopeless to even appeal to the civilised world – they are too busy in their own comfort zone! Sindhis must take their own destiny into their own hands! And, they must do it NOW or never will there remain a Sindh, whom they call their ‘Mother!’
Bashir Qureshi, the valiant son of Sindh is gone – he will never come back! He is irreplaceable! There never will be another ‘Bashir Qureshi!’ His tragic and untimely death has left a deep and wide vacuum in the land of Sindh!
“Acju na otaaqun mein, sei taliba tanwaareen,
Aadeisee uthee wayaa, marrhiyuun muun mareen,
Huu jei jeeya khei jiyaareen, sei laahuutee laddei wayaa.”
“Alas! Worthy devotees found not in courtyards today,
Noble disciples gone forever, their solemn absence does slay,
Filial ones nourished our souls, no more in motherland stay.”
(Shah Bhittai: Translated by Ahmed Makhdoom)
However, can this huge vacuum left by the tragic passing-away of Bashir Qureshi be ever filled? Yes, it can be, it has to be, it must be and it definitely and surely must be filled! How?
O ye Sindhis in Sindh, Hind and in worldwide Diaspora let us be guided by the message of the Soul of Sindh, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai who wants us to be a butterfly. We must seek the transformation that our soul yearns for today. We shall know many forms before we take another flight. If we so choose we shall become butterfly and fly abandonly into the sun:
پتنگ چاھين پاڻ کي؍ تَ اچي آڳ أجھا۶ِ؍
پچڻ گھڻان پچايا؍ تون پچڻ کي پچاِ۶؍
واقف ٿي وسا۶ِ؍ آڳ نَ ڏج عام کي؍
“Patangu chaaheen paanna khei, ta achee aaggi ujhaaei,
Pachanna ghannaan pachaayaa, tuun pachaanna khei pachaai,
Waaqufu thee wisaai, aagga na ddiju aama khei.”
“Be thou butterfly moth, then douse fire of ardour within,
Fire hath burnt so many, thou burneth the blaze within!
Extinguish like an expert, this privilege give not to anyone!” (Shah Bhittai: Translated by Ahmed Makhdoom)
Mourning the loss of a beautiful, bright and brilliant son of Sindh,
The writer is an Educationist, Human Rights Activist, Inter-Faith Dialogue Leader, Malaysia and Singapore.