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Pakistan: Tributes to the late Marxist intellectual Hamza Alavi

“Pakistan’s troubles stem from the lack of secularism.”

Monday 17 September 2018, by siawi3


‘Alavi uncovered anti-people machinations of capitalists’

Our Correspondent

September 8, 2018

Glowing tributes were heaped on the late Marxist intellectual and thinker Hamza Alavi on the occasion of the launch of a book, titled ‘Hamza Alavi: Awam Dost Marxi Danishwar” (“Hamza Alavi: People’s intellectual of Marxist hue”) by Dr Riaz Shaikh, dean, Social Sciences, Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST), at the Arts Council on Friday evening.

Speakers in their eulogies described how he exposed the anti-people machinations of the capitalists and the bureaucracy. Noted political activist Dr Ayub Shaikh said that Alavi, in his writings, had exposed the pernicious nature of ethnic nationalism.

Karamat Ali, director, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler), said that Hamza was a true public intellectual. He regretted that his readership was limited because he wrote in English, but he fully succeeded in projecting the social framework of Pakistan with all its holes.

He said Alavi had made clear through his writings that the pernicious feudal system was intact. “Alavi’s chief concern was the colonial state, a position that had worsened with the passage of time,” said Ali.

He cited the recent case of US-based economist Atif Mian who, first appointed to the prime minister’s economic affairs team, had been removed just on account of his being from a minority community. Later, midway through proceedings, a resolution was passed by the House condemning the move.

Anis Haroon, thanking Dr Shaikh for having produced such a vivid account of Alavi’s contribution, said that Dr Shaikh had done mighty service in acquainting the young with the contribution of Alavi. “Today there is dire need for such a work, at a time when people are questioning the relevance of Hamza Alavi’s work in this age of crass capitalism and the free market,” she said.

“Alavi was not just a writer. He was an avowed activist. He did not aim at well-paying jobs but was interested in a career that would ensure public welfare. His inclination towards socialism had begun to reveal itself in his student days only,” she said.

She cited his founding of the journal Pakistan Today in which there was an article, “The burden of US aid on Pakistan”, and said that time proved him right on all the counts he had mentioned in that article.

She said that he uncovered the anti-people, anti socialist machinations of the US worldwide. “Pakistan’s troubles stem from the lack of secularism,” she said. Dr Haroon Ahmed lauded the effort of Dr Shaikh , translating Alavi’s writings into Urdu and compiling them in book form. “Alavi was a public intellectual,” he said.

Senior journalist Zubeida Mustafa said that Alvi went right into the midst of the people to analyse their problems and in this context cited the way he came over from England and lived in a village on the outskirts of Sahiwal to get an insight into their issues.

Renowned historian Dr Mubarak Ali, addressing the meeting by telephone from Lahore, lauded the services rendered to society by Alavi and said that he had had the rare privilege of meeting renowned existential French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre.

Journalist Saeed Hassan Khan recalled his association with Alavi from the time when the latter formed the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy in Pakistan. The author of the book, Dr Riaz Shaikh, lamented the lack of political activism in Pakistan’s academia. All the speakers spoke of the way Alavi uncovered the anti-people machinations of the capitalists and the feudals