HYDERABAD: Nationalist leaders and intellectuals paid rich tributes to the founder of Geay Sindh Tehreek, late G.M. Syed, and said the great visionary leader had warned against the rise of fundamentalism much before it raised its head in the country.

They were speaking at a programme held at the press club on Wednesday to mark the 110th birth anniversary of G.M. Syed organised by the Sindh United Party (SUP).

Noted Sindhi intellectual Ibrahim Joyo who was chief guest on the occasion said that secularism had helped develop a system in which difference of opinion was respected.

The state always comprised people of different creeds and cultures but if one section’s faith was given preference over others then it would make things difficult, he said.

SUP president Syed Jalal Mehmood Shah, grandson of late Syed, said that Syed preached both Sufism and secularism because he appreciated the fact that different religions had influenced Sindhi culture in different stages of its history.

He was a visionary who foresaw damaging affects of making religion part of state constitution. Syed’s message of nationalism revolved around the high values of humanity.

He always welcomed healthy criticism and even asked his critics to go through his writings before taking any position, he added.

He said the SUP was committed to electoral politics in order to bring an end to the hijacking of mandate. The day would come soon when people themselves would resist hijacking of their mandate, he said.

He said that PPP government was forced to restore 1979 local government system by Sindh Bachayo Committee’s consistent struggle. The system defined functions of local bodies for rural and urban areas separately, he said.

He said the PPP government was again mixing up two systems, which the SUP was opposing in courts.

The urban and rural areas had issues of different nature but there was no difference between an urban and rural landlord as he could go to any lengths to protect his interests by grabbing resources, he said.

Gul Mohammad Umrani, a former bureaucrat and writer, said that Syed’s secularism made him distinct from other politicians. His secularism covered philosophy, Sufism and philosophy of non-violence but Sindh’s student politics witnessed widespread use of arms which was not a result of Syed’s teaching, he said.

He blamed agencies for the damaging phenomena which was created to defame Syed’s philosophy by exploiting greed among students.

He emphasised the need for census and said Sindhis should be urbanised. PPP had always evaded local government elections which were paradoxically always held by dictators, he said.

Senior journalist Zaheer Ahmed read his paper on Syed, describing him as fearless, idealist and a man with farsightedness.

He said that once he was asked to compare Z.A. Bhutto and Syed and he concluded that Syed was a man who never disappointed his motherland while the other launched operation in Balochistan and raised federal security force. Integrity of Sindh and Pakistan are interlinked, he added.

Vice president SUP Dr Dodo Maheri said that Syed convinced people of Sindh to believe in brotherhood, coexistence and tolerance.