It was after this that I met one of the most senior activists working in the left these days. Mr. Yousf Baloch, an 80 years old activist, who has been a part of the network for nearly 55 years. I first saw him at an event on the issue of Khaadi workers’ plight. I approached him for exchanging a few words and he invited me to his place in Misri Shah. I crossed the Do Moriya Pul on my bike and went all the way to Misri Shah to his home. I was standing at the corner of the street where he lived when I asked people where his home was but no one knew that he lived there. I finally found his place. We both went in and the first thing he said to me was that he wasn’t expecting me to be there because he felt that people don’t bother these days. He told me history of Misri Shah and the people who live there. It wasn’t boring at all for someone who had no prior knowledge of the place because all stories were coming up from a progressive perspective. His room had a bed and a collection of books and trophies. We talked about films and music of Pakistan because Nanna, Rangella, Abid Kashmiri, Aziz Mirithi, Qateel Shifai, SM & Aslam Dar used to live in Misri Shah and he was friends with all of them. He told me that the people of his area mostly pledge their allegiance to PML-N. “But when I give them logic, whenever I do, they ask, “Who told you that?” to which I say, “Books!”” I also met his wife and she offered me a cup of tea.
Baloch Sahab joined the railway after his intermediate and was inspired by Mirza M. Ibrahim. He later developed a disagreement with him when he disallowed youngsters to speak at processions and registered a separate union where professors initiated study circles on the teachings of Marx, Lenin, Mao, etc. Yousaf sahib faced intense coercion from the authorities throughout his career. He was put under house arrest in 1975 under the regime of PPP, and was told that his life was in danger. He was kept in chakki no. 4, where Bhutto was kept and also at a mosque for a few days. Later in the Zia-ul-Haq regime, he was arrested for organizing a funeral prayer for Bhutto. He and his comrades were arrested and later asked for money by Major Zafar Shareef. Rs. 500,000 was the price, which was later reduced to Rs. 50,000 when they realized that they were workers. He later on to work in CBA in various capacities and is still a senior member of the leftist circles.
Yousaf sahib believes that for students to work, knowledge of the societal structure is necessary along with a solid relationship with the working class. He thinks that students should visit factories, arrange lectures and study circles, and get lectures themselves from the people belonging to the working class. “Mao Tse-Tung said that the middle class will betray you when you talk about revolution. I can only see truth in this statement. The revolutionary class will always be the working class. He has problems in his life but you should not let him get in despair. You should give them knowledge,” he said. He further argued that the students should understand the class structure of their society in order to understand what kind of politics they need. The party should be organized first and then it should be run with peace. He also believed that they should fight in elections. “This is not the times of Lenin or Mao. Maybe you’ll fail the first time but you’ll win the next time. Then you can have a chance to apply your politics.” He further said that the youngsters are a little allergic to the old people. They should listen to them and remember that those who died for this cause never made properties. They made students, workers and activists who want a good society for everyone.
October 9, 2017