“Social development is not possible without progressive thinking” – Journal

HYDERABAD: Speakers paid rich tributes to leftist intellectual Dr Mehdi Hassan for his role in the progressive movement and said that without progressive and scientific thinking, social development would remain a mere dream.

They were addressing a memorial meeting for Dr Mehdi held at the local press club on Friday evening.

They said that Dr. Hassan’s ideological contemporaries like Asma Jehangir and IA Rehman were physically gone but their thought and philosophy were still alive in the society. Dr. Hassan examined society through a philosophical and scientific lens, they said.

Veterans rights activist Hussain Naqi recalled his association with Dr Hassan and said that Hassan came from a Panipat family of Boo Ali Shah Qalandar.

Naqi said that Hassan dedicated his life to the progressive movement and society and added that according to Hassan’s ideology, a man who believed in parochialism could not be considered a “man”.

He said that Hassan reached the pinnacle of knowledge and wrote 30 books. He mastered the subjects of art, culture, science and philosophy.

He said a society could be considered enlightened that had Sufisim. Social development is directly linked to progressivism and only then will society be considered developed, he said.

He said he had witnessed the killing of humans by Mukti Bahni’s men. The struggle for civil liberties, democracy and freedom of expression continues in society, but simultaneously tyranny and oppression also exist, he said.

He said that all societies in the world were reacting against oppression, atrocities and rights violations. Today’s society cannot be described as that of humanity as the country is witnessing rights violations, he said.

He said true democracy eludes this country and the democratic path has been obstructed in the name of religion. 10,000 Hindu girls were kidnapped and faced forced conversion and that was a matter of grave concern, he said.

He said women were crying out for freedom and girls were being killed on different charges. Today, a journalist could not ask a question whereas in his day journalists had the courage to ask bold questions. He argued that if reforms were needed in this society, young people should come forward and be part of the struggle for knowledge, he said.

The Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Asad Iqbal Butt, said Dr Mehdi Hassan, IA Rehman and Asma Jehangir have been closely linked to journalism.

He said journalists and rights activists shared a common struggle. The oppression in Sindh escalated and it deserved practical resistance in an ideological sense, he said.

He said people have a right to a difference of opinion and anyone who shows dissent should not be subjected to oppression and tyranny, he said.

He said that like journalists, HRCP activists also reached out to victims and recorded their views. Both rights activists and journalists have faced state-sponsored oppression. He said it was difficult to work like Ms. Jehangir and Dr. Hassan, but the HRCP still struggled to solve people’s problems. We cannot give up making the voice of the rights of peasants and workers heard, he said.

He said people were being arrested even in broad daylight at their homes and this called for speaking out against this atrocity. People have the right to engage in politics and if this right were prohibited, difficult conditions would take shape in the country, he said.

HRCP Senior Vice President Qazi Khizar said: “We should be committed to following the ideological path of Ms Jehangir and Dr Hassan.”

He said Hassan always used to say that atrocities were being committed against Bengalis and democratic norms were being violated. Dr Hassan was a true democrat and he always led from the front, he said.

Posted in Dawn, April 3, 2022

Joel C. Hicks