Friday, January 1, 2016

In Pakistan: The revolution that never happened

The revolution that never happened

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Backdoor of the Communist Party office in Lahore. -Photo by Malik Usman
Backdoor of the Communist Party office in Lahore. -Photo by Malik Usman
The law of resistance is a strange phenomenon of nature – a sapling growing against 
the weight of hard earth; an animal growing stronger in a hostile environment; the will 
of life to survive in the face of impending death. Perhaps, this can explain the romance 
and optimism that many of us felt during the repressive regime of General Ziaul Haq 
in the 1980s of Pakistan.
We had shifted from Rawalpindi to Karachi when I was five years old. My 
father, Aslam Azhar, had already established PTV in Pakistan, and had been transferred to the State Film Authority by Z A. Bhutto, who found his ideas 
too independent. When Ziaul Haq came to power he sacked all progressive 
minded professionals from government institutions, including my father.
I vividly remember the solemn atmosphere in our house when Bhutto was 
hanged in Central Jail Rawalpindi a few years later.
It was in Karachi that my father was introduced to Mansoor Saeed, who 
convinced him to actively join the growing Left movement in Pakistan, and 
our families became joined as one. Mansoor and my father founded theDastak theatre group in Karachi, which was the only group in Pakistan, 
besides Ajoka in Lahore, which sought to raise political awareness through 
theatre, in the face of a brutal regime. This is where Mansoor’s talented
daughter Sania Saeed gained her initial experience in acting and went on to become one of the most highly acclaimed actresses of Pakistani television 
Aslam Azhar and Mansoor Saeed, best friends and pillars of political theatre in Karachi.

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