KARACHI: On the eve of International Workers’ Day, poets, writers, and representatives of worker parties from across the country came together at the Arts Council on Sunday to commemorate the services of revolutionary poet Habib Jalib.
Presided over by poet Rasa Chughtai, the commemorative meeting began with Manzoor Razi, chairman of the Railway Workers Union, who spoke about the universality of Jalib message of peace and equality, and standing up to forces that aim to suppress and oppress. “All his life, Jalib wrote for the general public and never compromised his integrity and his dedication towards the people.”
He also delved into the struggle of Jalib over the years. “However, though very politically involved in the country’s affairs, none of the political parties in the country gave him a ticket to contest an election and bring about a more potent change in the country,” Mr Razi said.
11th Habib Jalib Peace Award goes to Abid Hassan Minto
He demanded that as recognition of Jalib’s services to the country, workers should be given seats in the assemblies so that their rights are protected and the message and work of Jalib can be taken forward.
Poets Sabir Zafar and Javed Saba, instead of giving speeches, read out poems to honour the work of Habib Jalib.
Sheikh Majeed, who worked in trade unions and also represented workers, spoke about the injustices against the workers in the country, and pledged to continue to struggle for their rights, a message that Jalib’s verses are brimming with. He called Jalib a poet for the masses, and a symbol of resistance, who produced stirring verses.
Winner of the Habib Jalib Peace Award was also announced at the meeting. The recipients of the award in the past years have included notable names such as Abdul Sattar Edhi, Adibul Hasan Rizvi, and Ruth Pfau among others who were recognised for their services to Pakistan and Pakistanis.
The 2017 winner of the award was Abid Hassan Minto, president of the Awami Workers Party (AWP). Unable to travel due to health issues, Minto’s award was accepted by secretary general of AWP’s Karachi chapter, Sheikh Shafi.
“Minto Sahib was a lawyer who fought against the class system, and practised law for the people and never for himself. His struggle is very similar to the struggle of Jalib,” said Mr Shafi.
Though organised on a much larger scale, the attendance was low; many notable names of the literati who had to speak about Jalib, were missing.
The event also suffered greatly as a result of technical issues.
However, the sparse gathering exhibited a lot of passion for Jalib’s political and social message and made up for these shortcomings.
Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2017