STONE WALLS DO NOT A PRISON MAKE
Dr. Rasheed Hasan Khan
The term “contempt of court” has become a household word since the Prime Minister of Pakistan stood accused of contempt and faced a trial and conviction in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. But here we are speaking of a different time, when the term was less familiar to the common man; the court was a Summary Military Court set up by the Yahya regime .The year was 1970. With the departure of the Ayub Regime, and the imposition of Martial Law, Gen. Yahya Khan took over the reins of the government and banned the functioning and elections of students and trade unions all over the country. The NSF however, continued to function as an organized student body despite the ban. With the commencement of the new academic year in September, the students were anticipating that elections to the Student Unions will be held soon, since there had been no elections since 1967 due to the closure of educational institutions during the Great Mass Movement of 1968. The students were keen to see the implementation of the demands which had been accepted as a result of the 1968 movement, since the authorities were dragging their feet as usual and there was no other way except for the elected office bearers of the student unions to pursue the matter with the authorities, thus the demand for elections to student unions became a burning issue.
So, in the month of Oct/ November 1969, students of Karachi University sat on a hunger strike in Karachi University Campus, demanding the holding of elections to the student unions and after a couple of days, the police made a dawn raid in the university campus and hauled the hunger strikers to the police station. To support the demand for the holding of elections to student unions and affect the release of arrested students, the NSF organized a movement all over Pakistan. The government, however, remained deaf to the voice of the students and the student activists engaged in the struggle were arrested. The arrested students were sent for trial before a Summary Military Court for this ‘Crime’. Thus, Altaf Siddiqi(late), Hasnain Bokhari, Shehryar Mirza, Zahid Hussain, Baseer Naveed, Abdul Qudoos, Sibt-e-Athar,Ali Yawar, Kaleem Durrani, Nayab Ahmed, Rasheed Hasan Khan and some others were tried in a summary military court and awarded imprisonment, ranging from six months to one year. After about six months, when One Unit was dissolved, all the students were released.
However, Rasheed Hasan Khan was arrested again soon after, for exposing the bungling in DMC Student’s Union funds by the then President of DMCSU (Asif Mansoori/Y.M.O.) . Saleem Khan, Abdul Ghafoor Kasi and Abdul Khaliq Brohi were arrested with him. At that time Kunwar Idrees was the Deputy Commissioner of Karachi. He was a very ambitious and unscrupulous individual who was in a hurry to get ahead and was ready to do anything to further his career. He had no love lost for activism. He was to win a great notoriety later, as the butcher of SITE and Landhi for his merciless repression of the workers movement in June and October 1972. He pressured the Health Secretary A.M.Ansari and the Principal DMC to fall in line and concocted a case of violation of Martial Law Regulations. The case was sent for trial before a Summary Military Court in Karachi.
The proceeding of the Military Court turned out to be nothing more than a charade. The worthy Principal of Dow Medical College gave evidence before the Summary Military Court, but the accused was taken out of the court room during the recording of this evidence! Rasheed Hasan Khan in his defense advanced the argument that since the military court had no jurisdiction to try a civilian under Military Law, the proceedings were unconstitutional and illegal. In accordance with the law, the trial had to take place in the proper Civilian Court of Law. Moreover, since all evidence against the accused was provided by the members of the administration and their touts, the prime movers of the case, the President of the Court in all fairness must delete this evidence from the proceedings as being prejudiced. Some of the evidence was also recorded by the court in the absence of the accused; this was a violation of the basic principles of a fair trial and placed a question mark on the integrity of the court itself. When the President of the Court, a Commander Kamal of the P.N. said that the arguments were not relevant; Rasheed Hasan Khan declared a boycott of the proceedings and asked the court not to waste any more time and pass the sentence quickly to allow everyone some rest. At this, the president of the court became incensed and instituted contempt of court proceedings against Rasheed Hasan Khan. But Saleem Khan, Abdul Ghafoor Kasi and Abdul Khaliq Brohi were released. And the case was sent to a Special Military Court. The Special Court after a pro forma hearing found the accused guilty of contempt of court and ordered that he should serve the remaining part of the sentence passed in the previous case.
In Karachi Central Jail at that time, there were quite a few political activists, either undergoing trial or serving their sentences. There were students belonging to the parallel NSF, the Sindh National Students Federation, some students belonging to Jeay Sindh who had been sent to Karachi jail after an altercation in Hyderabad jail and some students belonging to Baloch Students Organisation. The Superintendent Karachi jail once remarked that the ward looked like a college hostel of which the Warden was Rasheed Hasan Khan. Nazir Abbasi was also among the inmates of the ward. He was a painfully thin, earnest and serious young man. He would often visit Rasheed Hassan Khan and discuss various political issues. He was later to attain martyrdom under Gen. Zia’s military rule at the hands of Zia’s intelligence goons. In Karachi jail, the students established a custom to observe various occasions such as May Day and Hasan Nasir Day. Students belonging to various organizations would gather in the barrack and there would be impassioned speeches and slogan raising. The jail administration did not like it one bit but they could not take on thirty or so young men at once. So they ground their teeth and turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the goings on.
One day the good news was announced that the Commissioner Karachi Masood Nabi Noor would grace the barrack with his presence. He duly made his gracious appearance. After going through the formalities of enquiries about the student’s health and whether they had any complaints etc. he launched into a sermon about the Student Unions and their negative and harmful effects on education and educational institutions. He said that he was not opposed to student unions; he himself had been the Vice President of the Union in Government College Lahore. He wanted to know if it would not be a good idea to place some curbs on the student unions. Rasheed Hassan Khan replied that the Student Union he was referring to was not even autonomous. The President of the union was always a member of the teaching staff! As far as Karachi was concerned, it had to face step motherly treatment from the government from day one. All the educational facilities in Karachi were a result of the struggle and sacrifice of the students themselves. Any curbs on the student unions would damage the education system. Upon hearing this, he turned red in the face and hurriedly departed. The point of relating this episode is to show that the ban on student unions was not the brain child of the Zia regime only. The ban on student unions had been on the bureaucracy’s agenda for more than a decade prior to its imposition.
After the imposition of the ban, carnage in the educational institutions was instituted to entrench a culture of violence, use of firearms and hooliganism to prevent any reincarnation of student unions which functioned in a democratic way and struggled not only for the betterment of the educational system but also for the political and economic rights of the students and people of Pakistan. It is a matter of common knowledge that whenever there is a move to revive the student unions, the Agencies and their agents in the various student organizations initiate bloody clashes among student organizations and this leads to the closure of the educational institutions and the matter of revival is again placed in cold storage. The results of the ban on students unions can be seen in the increasingly violence prone and politically ignorant student population of today. Let us keep in mind that today youth and students constitute a majority of the population of Pakistan. What they think and do will affect the future of our country greatly.
While awaiting trial, Rasheed Hasan Khan felt that instead of wasting time he should pick up the thread of his academic life. From Bhawalpur Jail, where three of students had been shifted, he submitted his examination form, some friends sent the necessary text books and he settled down to study. The single bulb in its safety housing was placed high up in the ceiling and burned all night. But it was impossible to study in its light, so he used to wake up very early and studied only during the day. About two weeks before the exams he was shifted to Karachi. The theory exams were held in jail. The administrative authorities asked that the Practical Exams be taken in jail too! The Examiners however refused, so he was taken from jail to Dow Medical College with a truck load of armed police to prevent his escape. They cordoned off Surgical Ward-1, guarding all exits. This strange drama caused a large crowd of students to gather in the college premises. When he came out of the surgical-1 there was thunderous applause and slogans, and the police guard became very nervous. Thereupon he shouted an appeal for the students to remain calm and follow him to the canteen where everyone will meet and talk. After some hesitation, the Police Inspector who was in charge of the guard agreed to this. The DMC canteen had only limited space, so most of the crowd remained outside. But after this experience the authorities decided to release Rasheed Hasan Khan for the duration of the examinations. Despite the discomfort and the distractions, he cleared Part-1 of Final Year MBBS. He had to wait to clear the Part-2 after a gap of many years when there was a change of regime in Pakistan.
Meanwhile the activists of NSF after organizing the Provincial Council Sessions of Punjab, Sindh and N.W.F.P. (Khyber Pukhtunkhwa), organized the 10th Central council Session on 11 & 12 November 1970 in Lahore and Rasheed Hasan Khan was elected the first Central President of NSF (Pakistan).The great intellectual, dramatist and political activist late Safdar Mir was the Chief Guest. It was a tremendous achievement. Since the disruption of the APSO (All Pakistan Students Organization) in 1954, this was the first successful attempt at organizing a countrywide student platform. The credit for this goes to the selfless and untiring efforts of the NSF activists.
One day, two activists, the late Mohammad Yameen (President of Security Printing Press Union) and Mir Thebo (a leading activist of the parallel Sindh National Students Federation) were grossly maltreated by the prison staff, while they were in the Mari (the block of buildings around the gate of the prison).Rasheed Hasan Khan and other students were in the Military Court at that time hearing their sentence. Upon their return, they found that Mr. Yameen had been maltreated and suffered a heart attack and was admitted in the prison hospital and Mir Thebo had been stripped and locked up in the punishment ward. Rasheed Hasan Khan and the labor leaders Aziz ul Hasan, Iqbal Niazi(late),Khwaja Najib,Mohammad Riaz and some students from Baloch Students Organization , protested before the Mari by raising slogans against this highhandedness. This caused a furor in the jail. There was a terror stricken silence over the jail during their protest as if at any moment the sky would burst asunder and bolts of lightning would strike the protesters dead. They wound up their protest after about half an hour and went back to their barracks. In the evening, a trustee prisoner (numberdar) came with a message that the Superintendent jail would like to see them about their complaint. When they entered the Mari, they were handcuffed and put aboard trucks meant for the transportation of prisoners. Rasheed Hasan Khan was taken to Hyderabad Central Jail, while Aziz ul Hasan, Iqbal Niazi and others were taken to Khairpur Jail.
Night had fallen when he reached Hyderabad. He was taken to a block of cells and locked up. In the morning he found out that this was the punishment ward. When the Deputy Superintendent Channa came, he asked him why he was locked up in solitary confinement and not with the other prisoners, he said the other students were Sindhi and may cause trouble for him !! Rasheed Hasan Khan asked him not to worry since he was able to handle any kind of trouble. He was then shifted to the Quarantine Ward where at that time, there were 30 or so students belonging to various student organizations such as Jeay Sindh, Peoples Student Federation etc. After the round of introductions everyone settled down to ‘pass the time’ in the jail terminology. Among the prisoners there were two students from Liaquat Medical College, one belonging to Peoples Students Federation and the other to Jeay Sindh Students Federation. A kinship was immediately established and they insisted on placing his pallet next to theirs on the floor of the barrack. They found a lot of things to talk about and through them his communication with the other students was also facilitated. The lack of communication between the Sindhi speaking students and non Sindhi speaking students in the interior of Sindh struck him immediately. The Jeay Sindh students were very surprised at his views about the National Question and One Unit. They found it difficult to believe that there were individuals and organizations besides themselves who believed in the rights of nationalities to economic and political autonomy. They were together till all the students were released. One of these medical students later headed his own fraction of Jeay Sindh and the other went on to become a famous Surgeon, his association with the PPP has remained. The Quarantine Ward had an interesting history. It was the barrack where the Rawalpindi Conspiracy accused, Sajjad Zaheer, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Major Ishaq, Zafrullah Poshni and others had been held till their release. Adjacent to this Ward there was another building, which had been converted into a court room and where the accused in the conspiracy case were tried on charges of conspiracy to topple the government of Liaquat Ali Khan.
Mir Ali Ahmed Talpur, Tariq Aziz and Maulana Abdul Haq ,Nasir Ali and Mir Mohammad Junejo ( leaders of the PPP hailing from Mirpurkhas) were also in Hyderabad jail at this time. Students were often invited to their ward for tea and the ubiquitous political discussion. Some time before the national elections, Mr. Bhutto visited Mir Ali Ahmed Talpur to offer him the National Assembly seat for Badin. The jail Superintendent was all in a flutter, his nervous tick and stammer was greatly accentuated. Sometime after Mr. Bhutto’s arrival, the Deputy Superintendent came into their ward huffing and puffing and told them ‘Sain Bhutto wants to see you all’. All the students trooped out to the Mari. At that time there were only six of them left, the rest had been released. Mr. Bhutto was surrounded by a score of PPP heavyweights, who greeted the students most cordially. Mr. Bhutto himself was very gracious and enquired about their welfare and asked if they needed anything. Now what can a prisoner need, they wondered?
The PPP Contingent in Hyderabad Jail was released sometime before the National Elections. After his release, Tariq Aziz gave an interview to a newspaper about the dismal state of our prisons and the involvement of jail officials in the sale of narcotics and drugs to the prison inmates and the sale of remission of sentences for cash considerations. The Jail Superintendent, Pir Ali Ahmed Sarhandi, a decrepit relic of the British era, called Rasheed Hasan Khan to his office and after a rambling speech about the ingratitude of certain people, asked him to issue a statement refuting the allegations of Tariq Aziz. It was a most unreasonable demand. He asked him how his refutation could affect Tariq Aziz’s statement. Thereupon he launched into another mumbling rant of which one could not make out the head or tail. Rasheed Hasan Khan told him that he could not comply with his demand. Thereupon, he threw a tantrum and shouted that if he did not do as he was told, he would be put in isolation till the order was complied with. His minions pounced upon Rasheed Hasan Khan and literally dragged him to the solitary confinement ward, also known as punishment ward. This was a 10’X10’ cell which had historical antecedents. It was the cell in which Pir Pagara Sibghatullah Shah, had spent his last days. There were four doors of the cell, one on each side, and each of the doors a jail guard was kept on duty, day and night. Thankfully during his stay there, there was only one guard on duty and he kept himself (and Rasheed Hasan Khan) awake by dragging his baton on the bars all night.
To protest against this illegal and highhanded treatment, he started a hunger strike while in solitary confinement. His health started deteriorating after one week, but no proper medical treatment was given to him. On the contrary, he was transferred to Sukkur Jail. In Sukkur Jail he gained fame as being an associate of Shaikh Mujeeb ur Rehman of Awami League. Since there was no other political prisoner in jail in West Pakistan at that time, the inmates surmised that he must be associated with the current victim of the establishment’s anger! One observation must be made here. For all government employees working in institutions where their decisions hold the power of life and death over the wretched of our society, there must be regular and stringent psychological tests to determine their sanity and competence so that helpless people are spared torture and physical maltreatment at the hands of latent psychopaths. An incident which took place about a couple of months earlier, illustrates the importance of this measure. One morning, Maulana Abdul Haq, a venerable seventy year old religious scholar and PPP luminary from Mirpurkhas was sitting on a chair in the winter sun in his ward, when the Superintendent Pir Sarhandi came on his round. The Pir lost his temper when the Maulana did not get up on his arrival and immediately ordered that the Maulana be put in solitary confinement! The students in Quarantine Ward, adjacent to Maulana’s ward, coming to know of this, rushed to his rescue. A melee ensued between the jail guards and the students. Many students received injuries from the batons of the guards. They were given per functionary first aid and transferred to Karachi Jail without delay.
It is necessary here to praise the young men and women activists of NSF, the Intellectuals and Labor leaders who waged a relentless struggle for his release from jail. Without any exaggeration, he owes his life to their efforts.
The jail system of Pakistan and perhaps all over the world is not meant to correct erring individuals and reform criminals. The purpose of the institution is, first and foremost to perpetuate its own iniquitous existence. To this end, it employs a strategy of breaking an individual’s self confidence and destroying his self esteem so that he becomes a pliable tool in the hands of the jail administration and a useful cog in the repressive machine. The common prisoner, who has no hard inner core of a belief system(revolutionary or otherwise) in his personality to sustain him, becomes a pathetic, servile and duplicitous individual who will commit any vile act to win the approbation of jail authorities. The jail authorities themselves are a mirror image of the criminals they hold in their thrall. They are a mixture of bullying sadists and suave psychopaths. All corrupt to the core. The very food in their kitchens is pilfered from the daily ration of meat, milk, vegetables and flour meant for the prisoners. They augment their income by selling alcohol, narcotics and other drugs to the inmates. The demand is high, since majority of the wretched inmates use drugs to make their living conditions tolerable. Another very lucrative scam is selling remission of prison sentences for cash considerations. The attitude of the Jail Staff towards the ‘politicals’ is of two kinds. When there is a strong movement outside the prison walls, they are ingratiating and solicitous. But if the political activist manages to land himself in prison during political doldrums then the jail authorities are bullying and insolent, keeping an eye open for bribes and currying favor with the government. For ‘special cases’ i.e. people who are incarcerated because of personal ire of the rulers, there is no way out, neither bribery nor sifarish is of any use. Not because of any reason of moral rectitude but because even in jail there are informers working for the myriad agencies extant in Pakistan with remission of their sentences and an early release as a reward and cash and favors in case of informers from jail staff.
There is a story about Taimur, probably apocryphal, it goes like this. In his youth, Taimur was captured by the Mongols after defeat in a battle. As was the custom of the times, he was thrown into a deep pit without food or water to await the decision of the tribal chief. The privations he suffered in the pit, made Taimur swear an oath that if he survived, he would either free his prisoners or put them to death; he would never imprison any human being. Perhaps bribery was not a Mongol custom otherwise Taimur could have enjoyed a home away from home by putting a gold coin in every open mouth and something on every extended palm, as is the custom in Pakistan. The rich criminals and racketeers feed the whole jail staff and enjoy royal privileges while the poor convict has to bow and scrape just to survive. Jail in a class society is a microcosm of that society, with its elite and its underdogs.
With the situation in East Pakistan spinning out of control of the Pakistan Army, the debate on the national question with specific reference to East Pakistan became a burning topic in the ranks of NSF. One section lead by Hassamul Haq, President NSF Punjab and Ali Yawar, Central Vice President, was supporting the Military action in East Pakistan, while the majority of NSF was opposed to the military action. The struggle became very acute with an exchange of sharp polemics. Finally, a meeting of the Central Working Committee held on June 10/1971 in Lahore, decided to take disciplinary action against Ali Yavar and Hassamul Haq and expelled them from NSF. They formed a splinter group which functioned for some time till it became extinct. As a result of these debates in which the rank and file of NSF participated, their ideas about the National Question in Pakistan became crystal clear and free of any confusion.
Regarding the issue of inner party struggle, there is a conscious effort by elements inimical to the program and policies of NSF to spread confusion. Often these elements pose as the most dedicated individuals, interested only in the welfare of NSF and the correction of past mistakes. But what is the truth?
The truth is that these are cogs of the oppressive system camouflaging themselves as friends of the people. Is it not the truth that the past present and future of an individual is an indivisible whole? What is the present role of these individuals? An answer to this question exposes all pretensions, because most of these elements are docile tools and apologists of Imperialism and the local exploiters. A true progressive will never commit anti-people actions or align himself with the forces of exploitation and oppression whether he is the part of an organization or not. But these great friends of NSF see only the part of an individual’s life which they choose to see, dismissing the rest as being irrelevant. They gloss over the reprehensible and shameful role of individuals in the present, harping on the great role they played in the past and beating their breast at the loss incurred by the movement over ‘trivial differences’. For them, the difference between Imperialism and those oppressed by Imperialism is trivial. The contradiction between right and wrong is minor .The struggle between the people and anti- people forces is inconsequential. The political bankruptcy of these elements is directly a consequence of their social condition. Most of these elements are a part of the exploitative system and leagues away from the struggle of the exploited people. For them class and class struggle is a vague and nebulous phenomenon and world outlook and standpoint working class is something beyond comprehension. Their world is the world of the philistine petite bourgeois, all pious hopes and aversion to struggle and the politics of change.
In social practice, the influence of the Ideology of the ruling classes can easily be seen permeating the society. The intermediate section of social classes tries to dress like them, live like them and think like them. The fashions, the music, the food and the craze for the ‘in’ things are a part of the insidious poison that is disseminated daily by the ruling classes. The electronic media, the print media, the speeches from the rostrum and the pulpit, all are daily and hourly spewing out the ideology of the exploiting classes. It is inevitable that these ideas should find their way into progressive organizations via the opportunist and careerist elements; the petty bourgeois liberals and the lumpen characters that are allergic to discipline, ideological education and the style of simple living and hard struggle are very susceptible to this toxin. Elements from the petite bourgeoisie who do not transform themselves and their outlook sometime create serious organizational problems. Sometimes the removal of these noxious elements from the organization becomes necessary for the health and the survival of the organization if these elements try to disrupt organizational life. The history of NSF is a witness to the fact that whenever these opportunist and careerist elements have made an assault on the Ideology and orientation of NSF, they have been utterly defeated and expelled from the organization. In 1964-65 these elements openly opposed the right of the Kashmiri people to self determination and supported the Indian aggression on Pakistan, they were expelled and took cover under the label of the Sino-Soviet Split. In 1972 there were others who supported military action in East Pakistan; they were also removed from the ranks of NSF. In 1973-74 there were elements that were careerists and opportunists and wanted to use NSF as a bargaining counter to return to the lap of the Bhutto government, they also could not remain within the ranks of NSF. In 1976-77 other elements tried to make an opportunist departure from the orientation of NSF by advocating a reformist and compromising policy for NSF, they were rejected by the majority of the Central Working Committee of NSF and expelled. In 1977-78 there were elements that were enamored of the ‘Revolution’ in Afghanistan and supported the Soviet Occupation of Afghanistan. When they were removed from the organization, they started propagating lies that NSF had aligned itself with Zia and was supporting Jihadis. Then again opportunist and lumpen elements tried to destroy the organizational unity of NSF through factionalism and gross violations of discipline in 1985-86 and they had to be expelled. In 1995-96 a bankrupt opportunist family clique which advocated participation in NGO’S instead of political forums and tried to use NSF for personal benefits, had to be expelled.
Can anyone say that the issues mentioned above which lead to the expulsion of the various elements responsible, were trivial and inconsequential? No, it is a calumny of the petite bourgeois liberal and the bankrupt social democrat, to vilify the Historic Legacy of NSF.
Rasheed Hasan Khan was released upon completion of his sentence, in 1971.His health was shattered and he needed some rest, but in the heady days before the national elections, the whole country was in ferment and it was impossible for him to remain at home. NSF activists had voluntarily chosen to spread out through the whole country and were forming Units the length and breadth of Pakistan. Therefore, he undertook a “working holiday”, a tour of West Pakistan to acquaint himself of the recent organizational developments. Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas ,Shikarpur, Sukker ,Bhawalpur, Multan,Sahiwal,Okara,Lahore,Sheikhupura,Gujeranwala,Gujerat,Jehlum,Rawalpindi,Attock,Nowshera,Peshawar, Haripur, Abbotabad,Kohat,Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan and Swat, which had only recently been merged with the settled areas of N.W.F.P. It was an exhilarating experience to see the selfless work of dedicated activists transforming the political scene.
The NSF activists went among the masses and pointed out the limitations of a bourgeois parliamentary system and asked the masses to continue their struggle even after the National Elections because the parliamentary democracy, though better than a military dictatorship in terms of political activity among the masses, has class constraints that make it impossible for it to solve the real economic and political issues of the masses.
Back in Rawalpindi he was invited to inaugurate the office of NSF in a small room off College Road. The audience made a demand for a speech and inspired by their enthusiasm, he spoke about the people’s struggle against the three main exploiters of the people, U.S Imperialism, Feudalism and Civil and military bureaucracy. There was tremendous enthusiasm and cheering from the crowd. But the next day, at the office, there was a raid to arrest him. He had stopped on the way to the office to visit a friend and there he received the news of the raid and slipped away.
In the meantime the situation in East Pakistan worsened. India had by now openly started interfering in the conflict. The short sighted and repressive policies of the Yahya regime ultimately lead to Indian aggression and the fall of East Pakistan on 15 December 1971.With the fall of East Pakistan, Air Marshal Raheem and Gen. Gul Hasan staged a coup within the Armed Forces and Yahya and his gang was ousted. Bhutto was brought back and sworn in as President and Civilian Martial Law Administrator.
With his nemesis, the Yahya regime in its grave, Rasheed Hasan Khan was able to make an appearance in Rawalpindi. In consultation with other office bearers, he convened a meeting of the Central Working Committee of NSF on 10th January 1972 to chalk out a program of NSF in the new and changed conditions. After deliberations lasting two days The Program for People’s Democracy was unanimously approved by the Central Working Committee.
He returned to Karachi early in 1972.This was an eventful year. Elections were held in the colleges of Karachi and DMC, NSF achieved a resounding victory. In June 1972, a concerted plan to crush the Trade Unions and the Left Movement was put into action and on 7-8 June industrial workers were fired upon and hundreds were killed in Sind Industrial Estate in Karachi. The NSF, in solidarity with the workers organized protest rallies in all major educational institutions of Pakistan. Bhutto signed a less than spectacular Simla Agreement in July 1972. Coinciding with his return, riots broke out in Karachi over the Language Issue. The Sindh Assembly had approved a Language Bill which stipulated that Sindhi would be made the official language by 1974 and those civil servants, who did not learn the language, will not be able to continue in service. This was a calculated incendiary move. Strikes and processions disrupted the civic life in Karachi. The police opened fire upon a procession in Lalukhet and ten demonstrators were killed. This set the whole city in turmoil. There were wholesale arrests in the city. The police also conducted raids at DMC hostel and at Rasheed Hasan Khan’s home to arrest him. He did not think it useful to waste any more time as a guest of the state, therefore avoided arrest in 1972 and maintained a very low public profile till 1978.
In 1973, the Second Central Council Session of NSF was held in Lahore. Latif Choudhry was elected the President and Abdul Ghafur Kasi the General Secretary of the NSF.
(This is the second draft with some minor additions)