It was in April that I attended an event by these students for the first time. I was let known by an old friend, who was one of these students, that they were organizing an event with a collaboration of the Railway Workers’ Union. The Railway Workers’ Union is said to be the mother of unions in Pakistan, he told me. The students wanted to explore the possibilities of reviving the age-old alliance between workers and the students, a political tradition that yielded historical results in several progressive movement around the globe. The event was called the Mirza Muhammad Ibrahim Mazdoor-Tulba Mela. It was also being organized to commemorate the memory of Mirza Muhammad Ibrahim, one of the most radical and significant railway unionists in the history of the sub-continent. He was also the founder of the trade union movement in India and Pakistan and he also founded the Railway Workers’ Union, which is the oldest union in Pakistan. It was being organized at the Railway Headquarters, Lahore. There were students as well as various old unionists and leftist politicians who are referred to by the younger lot as “babay” (the old men). The students organizing this event were a part of the Progressive Students’ Collective. The PSC is a recently formed student organization that aims to mobilize students for the betterment of educational conditions on campus. Students from various campuses across Lahore such as Government College University, Forman Christian College, University of the Punjab, etc. are a part of this organization. The event included speeches from various members of the railway union as well as the students. The PSC and Sangat, a local theatre company, also performed their theatrical pieces which left a deep impact on the audience.
October 8, 2017