Next, I had to go to a boys’ hostel in front of Karbala Gaam-e-Shah to meet Mudabbir Ali. The hostel had an apartment with multiple rooms. All boys living there belonged to Gilgit Baltistan. They have come all the way to Lahore to study at various institutions. They spend the day at campus but after the evening you could see them doing everything together. All of them knew how to cook and at dinner, everyone was there. There was seldom an exception. Their nights were usually filled with them talking, singing and dancing together. It was as if they had created a little home away from home.
I spent a lot of time with Mudabbir at his hostel. He’s also from Gilgit and I found him to be a very funny guy. Often I saw him making fun of his seniors, even though some of them resisted. But I thought that he’s not noticed as much as Haider. Haider and Mudabbir spent most of the time together. But I found the latter more amusing. So, there now existed a curiosity of photographing him and figuring out his real side and how he became an activist. Which I did, I guess. Mudabbir recently completed his final year at GC University Lahore. He was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and is an active member of the Young Reformers, a student group in Gilgit Baltistan. He has been associated with Progressive Students’ Collective from the times the organization was created.
He told that the politics he wishes to pursue is the politics that connects the disengaged groups. “The activism we are doing intends to connect the workers with students, something that has been absent from the last twenty years. We have tried to create connections, meet them in their colonies, and arrange seminars. This is what I believe to be something that differentiate our struggle from others. Such a connection hasn’t been there in any recent progressive organization.” He also said that activities like study circles and seminars are intended to connect the politics to the ground realities by studying various intellectual works. It helps students academically as well as in their effort to relate their intellect with the contemporary world.
“We need to enhance our critical thinking since we get a specific environment in the classrooms. There are already understood boundaries and no one can dare to cross them. In study circles, you can question anything.” He also said that theatre, in the same sense, can be helpful since it creates an impact that leaves a lasting effect. “Whatever it is, be it theatre or study circle, our underlying principle is the same. We wish to talk about the marginalized and the oppressed classes. It has been wrongly affiliated with politics that everyone who does it is corrupt. We face this problem whenever we try to reach our people. We face such insecurities. It is something that we are trying to overcome.”