By: Jagdeesh Ahuja
Humanism will ultimately prevail. Man is still restless and shall remain so unless he has attained peace. Man’s material and spiritual development is not possible without creating a spirit of universal peace and tolerance.” Thus spake G.M Syed. Though widely known as father of modern Sindhi nationalism, in deep heart, he is a great universal lover and freedom fighter. Being one of the most controversial figures of Pakistan, he is misunderstood by many, hated by a few and loved by great many lovers of Sindh. If one wants to have some acquaintance with the soul of Syed, one has to go through his book ‘The abode of heart and story of love.’ (Dayar-e-Dil, Dastaan-e- mohabat).
Ghulam Murtaza Syed, G.M Syed is son of Sann, Jamshoro, Sindh, born on January 17, 1904. Life of Syed and history of Sindh in 20th century travel in same wavelength. Just after 16 months of his work, his father Syed Mohammad Shah Kazmi, descendent of a famous saint of Sindh, Syed Haider shah, was killed. In the first decade of 20th century, Syed and Sindh, both were orphans. Being adolescent and only male member of his family, he came under the guardianship of British govt. whereas Sindh had already lost her sovereignty after British conquest in 1843 and had lost her identity when British govt. merged Sindh with Bombay Presidency. In second decade, Syed and Sindh both started to rise above the shadow of guardianship. G.M Syed joined Khilafat movement and Sindh raised early voice for separation from Bombay presidency. In 1919, G.M Syed became chairman of the school board of Sann and later started his journey on path of discovery of truth and God. And in 1922, the greatest discovery of new Sindh, Mohenjo-Daro was unearthed by Sir John marshal. The British conquers who usurped the sovereignty and identity of Sindh paid back with great asset and source of identity and inspiration for struggle of liberation. According to G.M Syed, Dada Jaithmal Parsram was the first person who pronounced Sindh as separate state and nation. He had studied Quran Sharif, Gita, Bible, Vedas and old epics of India. He had in-depth knowledge of all religions and civilizations. He had gone through the souls of the great Sindhi poets such as Shah Latif, Sachal Sarmast, Sami, Bedal, Rohal etc, Indian poets like Guru Nanik, Kabir Bhagat, Mira Bai, Kalidas, and Iranian poets like Rumi, Hafiz, Attar and Mansoor. Along with eastern poets, Dada J.P Gulrajani had studied the great western poets like Shakespeare, Shelly, Tennyson, Goethe etc. and then he came to know that Sindh has a special message for whole human kind. G.M Syed met him in 1929. In the same year, he became the President of Karachi District Local Board and next year he called Sindh Hari (Peasants) Conference and founded Sindh Hari Committee along with other Sindh lovers and humanist activists like Jamshed Mehta, Jaithmal Parsram and Sheikh Abdul Majid Sindhi. In June 1932, G.M Syed saw Shah Latif, the great poet of universal love and peace, in a dream who said to Syed, “First you have to go through the great love of Sindh and then you have to struggle for unity of humanity, peace and sanity.” In same year, at the age of 28, Syed passed through fire of love, though he was already married at the age of seven. That was one sided love story. Love made him slave, love let him free. Syed concluded, “Prayers, Knowledge and practical life are good things but without love, they are meaningless. Love makes them meaningful.” That was 13th year of his politics he started his work for welfare of his villagers specially women. He founded village women’s association and educated them to get rid of backward traditions and custom. He called Khilafat conference at Sann in 1920, conference of Matyari Syeds in 1924 and called a literary conference at annual anniversary of Syed Haider Shah Sanai in 1926. He pioneered village reform movement in Karachi and founded Karachi District Co-operative Institute under the chairmanship of Mr. Jamshed Mehta, the great humanist. He worked in Free Masons, Theosophical Society, Karachi Young Men’s Association, Sindh Mohammadan Association, Muslim Gymkhana Karachi and Adario Welfare Association. He founded Fishermen Association and Cattle Farmers Association. He also worked at managing committee of Anjuman-e-taraqi Urdu Karachi. He participated in movement against British rule from the platform of Congress and became President of Congress Committee of Sann. He joined youth league of Congress at Karachi in 1929. In early 1930s, movement for separation of Sindh from Bombay presidency took a foot and he participated actively along with Dada J.P Gulrajani and others. Sindh succeeded in 1936 and got status of separate province in British India. G.M Syed founded Sindh Peoples Party along with Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto and Haji Abdullah Haroon to take part in provincial elections. Later, he created Sindh Ittehad (coalition) party and was elected member of Sindh Legislative Assembly whereas Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto and Haji Haroon were failed to win their seats.
In 1937, a new turning point came in life of Syed. Due to some disappointments in love and politics, G.M Syed went Quetta in September 1937 to get guidance from Khwaja Mohammad Hassan Jan Sarhandi of Tando Mohammad khan. Under his influence, he turned towards fundamentalism. According to G.M Syed, Jamshed Mehta rightly commented, “In search of god, he went under the shadow of dark forces, instead of god.” Same is the case of suicide bombers, assassins and today’s religious youth.
In 1938, the great humanist Bhagat Kanwar Ram is assassinated by two blind followers of Pir Bharchundi Sharif under the influence of dark forces and Sindh passes through the great pain and agony. The shock of assassination engulfed whole Sindh. Instead of finding any remedy, G.M Syed joined Muslim League in the same year and flared up the fire of fundamentalism which resulted in the riots of Masjid Manzil Gah Dispute in Sukkur for which he regretted later till death. In 1943, Syed became president of Sindh Muslim League and in same year Sindh lost three great rebel souls. On Jan 21st 1943, Hemu Kalani was hanged for his attempt to derail the train of British soldiers. On 20th march 1943, leader of Hur Movement against British Raj, Pir Subughut Ullah Pagaro, present Pir Pagaro’s father accepted the glory of martyrdom. Both Hemu Kalani and Pir Pagaro refused to get pardon and went in gallows in their young ages. On 15 may 1943, then Prime Minister of Sindh, Mr. Allah Buksh Soomro is murdered in his hometown Shikarpur in a Tonga (Horse cart) and nothing happens!! He was the first sane politician of Sindh who put forwarded the agenda of Independence of Sindh. Later, G.M Syed confessed that if they had let succeeded Soomro to implement his policy, Sindh would not have suffered so much. Such was the apathy, division and short sightedness of Sindhi politicians of the time that one after other, Sindh sacrificed her brave and sane sons but no unified movement of resistance could take a foot.
Though his love for Sindh and his truthfulness is beyond doubt, G.M Syed made many grave mistakes in ignorance and arrogance due to which Sindh and Syed both have suffered a lot. His love for Sindh is eternal. Even his perspective of Pakistan was intermingled with this love. He addressed All India Muslim League delegates at Karachi in 1943 in such a way, “I welcome you to the land of Sindhu. By Sindhu I mean that part of the Asian continent, which is situated on the borders of the river Indus and its tributaries. In past ages Sindh and hind have been considered separate entities. Sindh included Kashmir, the N.W.F.P, the Punjab, Baluchistan and the present province of Sindh.” On 3rd march 1943, G.M Syed got a resolution passed in the Sindh Assembly in favor of Pakistan. At this juncture, G.M Syed demonstrated the political cleverness. In that session of Sindh assembly only 27 members out of 60 were present, rest were in jails due to Quit Indian Movement. The resolution was passed with 24 votes. Even though this was the first resolution of its kind in the whole of undivided India. He remained president of Sindh Muslim league till the end of 1945. In 1946, he felt deceived and left Muslim league. First he formed Progressive Muslim League and was elected as leader of the Coalition Party in the Sindh Assembly. When Pakistan came into existence in 1947, G.M Syed became the first political prisoner of Pakistan. He called on convention of political workers on 8-9-10 may 1948 to form new political party at Muslim colony Karachi under the President ship of Khan Ghaffar Khan. Here he declared that in the new state of Pakistan, Sindhi, Pathan, Baloch, Punjabi and Bengali are historical nations. Thus he entered in new age of modern nationalism.
The partition of Punjab and Bengal caused the great havoc, massacre and millions of tragedies. The great populace passed through the rivers of fire and blood. When whole India was burning in the fire of religious riots, Sindh remained calm and sane. Sindh hosted Indian immigrants with open arms and warm hearts but this gesture still awaits reciprocal response!! After transmigration of 1.3 million Sindhis towards India and 3 million Indians in Sindh in 1948, demography of Sindh changed drastically. Already demography of Sindh was going through a great change after construction of Sukkur Barrage. Settlements of Punjabi cultivators were so alarming that an idiom in Sindhi language got popularity that ‘Take one Punjabi as two, and if there are two then neither will remain your home nor you.’ Sindh had already lost her precious land to Punjabi settlers and after Pakistan, she lost all major cities to Indian immigrants. When Ayub Khan came in power through first marshal law in 1958, new wave of Pathan, Punjabi settlers started in 1960’s all over Sindh. Industrial revolution and agricultural reforms both resulted in the mass migration of non-Sindhis in cities and rural areas of Sindh. Hence Sindhi populace felt betrayed and sensed the danger of becoming minority in their own motherland. Sindhi intelligentsia shockingly found similarities in conditions of Sindhis and Palestinians!! Thus came into existence Jeay Sindh Movement in late 1960s. Initially “Jeay Sindh” was the title of a poem written by Comrade Hyder Bukhsh Jatoi who pioneered the national and class struggle of Sindh simultaneously along with G.M Syed, comrade Sobho Gianchandani and many other young leaders of middle class and peasantry. That’s why he was bestowed unanimously with the title of ‘Baba-e-Sindh’ (Father of Sindh).
With the help of Shah Latif, Rumi, Allama I.I Qazi, Molana Ubedullah Sindhi, Hashu Kewalramani, Dada J.P Gulrajani and Sipahi Jethmalani, G.M Syed rediscovered himself as great lover of Sindh and of whole human kind. Since 1950s he started to spread the message of Shah Latif for rest of his life:
“O my lord! Bestow prosperity on Sindh forever,
O my sweet Friend!
Shower your blessings on the entire world.”
He wrote a book in Sindhi, Pegham-e-Latif (The Message of Latif) and portrayed the great poet as messenger of universal love and peace. Such was the influence of Shah Latif that he himself became the messenger of universal love, liberty and peace. His credentials are so high that they need a complete book. Here you look at hindsight of his views on religion which are very much relevant in today’s dark scenario, “I see the light of truth in every religion. I consider all religious beliefs as part of nature. Each age has brought about new revelations. In future, too, this process is likely to continue. Hence to regard any religious or worldly law as final or any faith or doctrine as everlasting is against fundamental principle of laws of evolution.”
G.M Syed passed away on 25th April 1995 with a dream looming large in his thirsty heart and left behind a world of ignorance and arrogance. He described whole his life in the words, “Gone is my life in the way of lover.”
The writer can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org