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Palijo’s legacy

14 19 269

The demise of Rasool Bux Palijo – a stalwart politician and intellectual from Sindh, and one of the greatest writers of Sindhi prose in the 20th century – has not only left thousands of his workers orphaned but has also dealt a blow to the politics of ideology and commitment, and the path to salvation.

Rasool Bux Palijo’s narrative for Sindh was entirely different from what his contemporaries in the business of politics had proposed. He remained a strong proponent of Sindh’s rights. In his own creative and scientific way, he proved to be a brilliant advocate of the province’s rights. Palijo’s approach to politics and society was influenced by Marxist literature and leftist movements in third world countries during the post World War-II era.

But the traditional Marxist activists and nationalists of his era refused to see him as one of their own because he didn’t consider ideological influences to be dogmatic. Palijo was neither a Marxist in the way that the Communist Party of Pakistan would adhere to the rigid ideological lines of the Marxist theory, nor a nationalist like G M Syed, who sought clear-cut national unity and ignored class divisions and exploitation in society.

Palijo hailed from Sindh’s peasantry and read widely about the history of revolutionary movements in post-colonial societies such as Vietnam, China, Angola and Mozambique. It took him years to develop his own ideological framework and thesis on which to base his politics on. In his book, ‘Subuh thendo’ (‘Dawn will come’), he presented the exploitation of Sindh’s people along national and class lines and coined a suitable way forward: the Qaumi Awami Jamhoori Inqilab’ (the National People’s Democratic Revolution). ‘Subuh Thendo’ is categorised as a form of original political literature. It offers a critique on how Pakistan’s undemocratic regimes developed a nexus of vested interests to further their agenda to deprive people of their rights on three fronts: democratic, class and national questions.

It took decades for him to get his workers and activists in Sindh to truly grasp the ideological foundations he had built. This is why he was unique and inspiring. It was the power of his ideas that helped him build a strong political base across Sindh. Palijo was the first political leader who hailed from a lower middle class family in rural Sindh to lay the foundation for a Marxist party with distinctly Sindh-based characteristics.

The revolutionary poetry of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai was a recurring theme in his politics. The titles of most of Palijo’s books were derived from Bhitai’s poetic lines and expressions. Even his political activism and mobilisation was built around Shah Latif’s poetry. No one celebrated Bhitai’s urs in Sindh like he did. Through Bhitai’s poetry, Palijo would explain his political ideas and future direction. As a result, his words would come across as songs of liberation to the ears of his followers.

Palijo’s rise to politics occurred at a time when Sindh and Pakistan were thrilled with the launch of two key political parties. ZAB had launched the PPP at the federal level and G M Syed had started the Jeay Sindh Tehreek (JST) in Sindh........

© The News International