People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 34

August 22, 2010



Comrade Nazir Abbasi’s Martyrdom Recalled


Naresh ‘Nadeem’


ON August 11, the Communist Party of Pakistan, Communist Mazdoor Kisan Party, Mazdoor Mahaz and some other Left organisations jointly observed the 30th anniversary of the martyrdom of Nazir Abbasi, a communist revolutionary of Pakistan. Prominent leaders of these organisations, including veteran Mazdoor Mahaz secretary general Shaukat Chaudhary, CMKP secretary general Taimur Rahman, its deputy secretary general Irfan Ali and Sadiq Beg (CPP) addressed a jampacked hall meeting held on this occasion at the central office of the CMKP in Lahore.


It is to be noted that Comrade Nazir Abbasi fell to brutal ISI torture on August 9, 1980, during the regime of military dictator Ziaul-Haque.


Like Shaheed Hasan Naasir, Comrade Nazir Abbasi too is one of the icons of communist movement in Pakistan. He was born on April 10, 1953, in a lower middle class family at Tando Allahyar in Sindh. In his early youth, he joined a hunger strike of Baldia Employees Union at Tando Allahyar and was arrested for it. During his jail days, he came in contact with CPP general secretary Jam Saqi, Dr Aizaz Nazir, Professor Jamal Naqvi and some other progressive intellectuals, and became a communist.


Comrade Nazir was one of the key figures behind the Patt Feeder peasant movement in Balochistan in 1976, organising and educating the local people about how to resist the local landowners who were out to displace them from the lands they had been cultivating for decades. The resistance also paved the way for agricultural workers’ and sharecroppers’ unity, leading to the formation of Balochistan Bazgar Committee, on the pattern of the Sindh Hari Committee.


In the same year, Nazir became vice president of the Pakistan Federal Union of Students, with Raziq Bugti (later assassinated) as its president. In this capacity, Nazir played a seminal role in the unity of students and his efforts bore fruit when a number of student organisations --- the Sindh National Students Federation, Baloch Students Organisation and Pakhtun Students Federation, among others --- agreed to form a single united forum of progressive students. This was what came to be known as the Democratic Students Federation (DSF) later --- established shortly after Comrade Nazir’s martyrdom.


On July 4, 1977, after the dismissal of the Z A Bhutto government, usurper General Ziaul-Haque proclaimed Martial Law in the country, which involved complete ban on political parties and suspension of constitutional rights. In a letter addressed from underground to the delegates of a students convention in 1979, Nazir Abbasi wrote: “General Ziaul-Haque is terrified by the people’s consciousness and believes that like Iran, the people’s power may also defeat the dictatorship in Pakistan.”


Before his last arrest, Comrade Nazir had spent a good part of his adult life in prison under the notorious Defence of Pakistan Rules, akin to our DIR.


On July 30, 1980, Nazir was arrested from Karachi, while he was underground, along with his friends Suhail Sangi (now a journalist), Badar Abro and Kamal Warsi. The ISI mercenaries then took him to a military interrogation camp in Mauripur and brutally tortured him for running a campaign against dictatorship. In the ISI torture camp, Nazir breathed his last on August 9, 1980, when he was only 27. The extent of the torture meted out to him was testified by an official of the Edhi Foundation, who said Nazir Abbasi’s dead body had so many injuries that it seemed as if someone had attacked every part of his body with a broken glass bottle.


Comrade Nazir was buried in the Sakhi Hasan graveyard in Hyderabad Sindh.


Comrade Nazir Abbasi was known for his simple and incorruptible life, inspired by the ideal of associating oneself with the most marginalised and oppressed classes in Pakistan. His writings and speeches permeated with the vision of a sovereign, progressive and democratic Pakistan which would have abolished all forms of exploitation and misery of the working people. It is not surprising that, soon after his death, Nazir Abbasi re-emerged in the Sindhi folklore and still inspires the political workers striving for social justice in Pakistan. Renowned Urdu poetess, Ms Fehmida Riyaz, paid him homage through a moving poem.


While observing the 30th anniversary of Comrade Nazir Abbasi’s martyrdom, the Left and democratic groups in Pakistan reiterated their old demand that the culprits who assassinated him, must be brought to book. These assassins were led by Brigadier Imtiaz Billa, then a colonel and in charge of the ISI operations in Sindh. Billa had been infamous for having started a period of extreme torture of political workers in Sindh. 


Addressing a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on August 8, Comrade Nazir’s widow, Begum Hamida Ghangro pointed out how Brigadier Billa is still roaming at large, flaunting his credentials about torturing many Sindhi and Baloch political workers to death. Professor Jamal Naqvi and Kamal Warsi, who were arrested at that time along with Nazir Abbasi, accompanied her. Begum Hamida said the likes of Billa and his cruel ISI subordinates continue to hunt the Sindhi and Baloch political workers even today, and they can be taught a suitable lesson by bringing Billa and his associates to justice.


One notes that when Ziaul-Haque, angry over the moves to unify the students movement, ordered Nazir Abbasi’s arrest, Begum Hamida Ghanghro was already in jail.


Begum Hamida also recalled that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) had once made the promise to bring to justice all the culprits who had killed Nazir Abbasi. Though an FIR was filed on August 17, 1980, an investigation started much later. The court case commenced during the last stint of Benazir Bhutto’s rule, but the proceedings stopped after a few hearings and then the issue was put on the backburner when her regime was toppled. Now it seems that the leaders of the PPP have conveniently forgotten her promise. The general belief is that any attempt to get Billa and others punished would evoke protest from General Kiyani and several others.


On the 30th anniversary of Comrade Nazir Abbasi’s martyrdom, progressive political workers also recalled how even the Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s regime had jailed scores of student leaders and did not spare their family members either. In case of Nazir Abbasi himself, when the police failed to apprehend him for months together, Bhutto’s regime got imprisoned Comrade Nazir’s mother, father, brothers and sisters in Tando Allahyar Jail.


Addressing the press at Karachi, Begum Hamida also made an appeal to the Chief Justice, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhari, to take suo moto action on the 1980 FIR.