30 Years Ago
Translation of an audio program of BBC Urdu
Story of MRD is one of the chapters of the political history of Pakistan which is still very little known. How did this movement agains General Zia Ul Haq started, Eatizaz ahsan of Peoples party says "In 1980 Zia Ul Haq made an amendment in the constitution of Pakistan, he added an article No. 212 A in which he purged the constitutional powers of High court and Supreme court, a movement of lawyers started which was lead by Hafeez Lakho, Abid Hassan manto, Barester Zahoor, and Syed Afzal Hayder and such big names were in it who belonged to different parties. This movement gathered all the parties at the Bar association level. On 19th June a convension of lawyers was held in Lahore which was participated by all parties and all sat on one platform, many people were arrested I was also arrested, than a convention was held in August 1980, similarly a convension was held in Peshawar on 20th November 1980. These convensions brought all parties on one platform hence parties started talking to each other and leaders of diifferent parties started to meet each other, On 21st Feburary 1981 declaration of MRD was announced at 4 muzang Lahore, the residence of Mian Mohammad Ali Qusori where Begum Nusrat Bhutto was also present and she was arrested there some other leaders like Late Syed Iqbal Hayder etc got arrested. So at that time MRD was born from the womb of the movement of Lawyers."
Baraster Latif Afridi who was also in this movement says "Zia Ul Haq promised 2 or 3 times that I will hold elections b ut he deviated from his promise every time, he was becoming more and more on the throne, and was geting more and more people and puting them into jails"
The MRD Movement has labor, student unions and all political parties of the country, but how did it happen that PNA, a party who was an opponent of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and who also alleged Bhutto of rigging became part of MRD. Jameeat Ulema e Islam's leader Maulana Fazlurehman says "BNA had a soft corner of Zia Ul Ha in the beginning, they believed that if elections could be held in 90 days than it was acceptable by them. But when he postponed the elections for an indefinite period and suspended all political parties, than PNA's leadership and specially my father Maula Mufti Mehmood and Nawab Nasrullah Khan said that this was a promise with the nation and our commitment was with the whole nation, this they resolved that a joint movement must start and a formula was formed meanwhile Maulan Mufti Mehmood died and after his death all the party leaders of Jameeat e Ulema E Islam made a decission and Movememnt for restoration of Democracy came into being. We all were in the movement but at this point the union of PNA was also broken, because Jamaet e Islami and Muslim league decided to remain with Zia Ul Haq and we went to MRD"
Workes from 4 provinces were involved in this, Lateef Afridi says "I my self was provincial president of Ghous Bux Bazenjo's party Pakistan National Party. Ghous Bux Bazenhjo actively participated in this movement and told us to participate. The other important person is Mehmood Khan Achak Zai who was fired upon at Qandhari Bazaar Quetta also but God saved him but many of the workers of his party were martyred, he remained contineously with this movement and kept struggling, but all workers of parties like Progressive workers, Tarraqi Pasand workers BSO Pukhtoon Student organisation etc were supported of this movement however major role that I know of was of Ghous Bux Bazenjo and Mehmood Khan Achakzai from Balouchistan.
After the formation of MRD the biggest setback for it was the hijaking of PIA's plane whic was accepted by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's sons party Al Zulfiqar.
MRD was started as a peaceful political movement, but after this incident martial Law Authorities got a good excuse to take strict measures against the movement. But than started the most important part of MRD Eatizaz Ahsan says "In 1983 we decided to put some life into the movement so in 1983 a very strong movement started specially in Sindh, Sakrand, Dadu, Hyderabad, National highway many people and workers were martyred"
Maulan Fazl Ur Rehman says "They were very strict in Sindh people sat on roads and read Quraan, they were draged they were killed, and bullets were fired on them they burned villages straw houses. I was in jail at that time our interim president Maulana Sham Amroti appealed the amenisty international to come and see the situation."
Fot the second round of this protest Latif Afridi says "August 1983 1000s of people were arrested countrywide, which included lawyers, political workers, political leaders and people from different walks of life who were part of this democratic movement."
Aetizaz Ahsan says "The whole leadership was arrested" Maulan Fazl Ur Rehman remembers "I was myself coming and going into jail contineously for 4 to 5 years, and my party's people were arrested and workers from all parties gave sacrifices during that time."
Arrests continued Latif Afridi says "People were giving themselves for arresting I myself in this regard may be on 27th August 1987 did a protest in Kissa Khawani bazaar, me and some of my friends got arrested.and we were sent to Dera Ismail Khan Jail, there were about 400 to 500 worlkers of Pakistan Peoples party and National Democratic Party in the Dera Ismail Khan Jail, after 11 days I was sent to Haripur Jail, there too there were hundreds of people, and big leaders of our like Bilor brothers Afzal Mohammad Afzal Khan and many leaders of Awami National Party, Wali Khan was house arrested at rest house in Kohat Dam, this arrests was all over the country there were thousands of people in the country but spirit of people was high and they were ready to protest for the restoration of democracy"
In this action who was the most targeted Latif Afridi says "Specially People's party's dozens of workers were given very tough punishments similarly Mazdoor Kissan Party whose important leader Sher Ali Badshah was kept aproximatly 100 days in Qila Bala Hisar, he was then taken out by the high court so Mazdoor Kissan party and People's party's werkers were hardest hit"
Aetizaz Ahsan says "The most important was obviously Pakistan people's party which was a big party and was resisting of Marshal Law from the first day of Marshal Law 5th July 1977, its workers were going to Jails leaders were being strapped many were also hanged Shaheed Banazir was jailed for 5 years, Begum Nusrat Bhutto also remained in Jail for a long time so the workers also took the inspiration from them and were ever ready"
The authorities were very strict Aetizaz Ahsan says "Thousand of workers were imprisoned military was not as soft as it was during the last period of Musharraf but at that time it was very rough for them it was very easy for them to even think of hanging some one. There were torture cents like Lahore fort etc where they used to keep them I was not taken there but many of friends and fellows used to spend months or weeks in those cells and when they used to come back into jails their condition used to be very bad, very bad condition"
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