MKP had a better understanding of Pakistan’s political and cultural reality; had a well trained and broad-based cadre among peasants and industrial workers and a high profile in national politics. MKP also commanded 8000 guns according to its leaders. It was torn apart by inner conflict characteristic of many left-wing parties in Pakistan. MKP units at grass roots level were engaged in ideological and political education, trade union activities, peasant rights, education reforms and at places engaged in armed conflict with the local land owners. MKP workers had a high degree of freedom in deciding local priorities and strategies for political action. When I joined MKP I was working as a lecturer at Gomal University Dera Ismail Khan. Dera was across the river from Bhakkar and Darya Khan. It was only 14 miles distance but mighty Indus river is split into two main branches here and the river bed was spread over 12 miles. In summer, one had to ride on a steamer, move to a jeep, followed by a motor launch and a wagon ride to reach the other bank of the river. All the passengers and their baggage had to be shifted from one transport vehicle to the other throughout the journey. This could take up to three and a half hour to complete the 14 miles trip. In winter a boat bridge was set up and steamer ride was replaced by a slow bus ride on the bridge. That was another reason why Aurangzeb called Dera to be situated in the fourth world. Natives of Dera said that “People cry when they come to Dera and also cry when they leave Dera”, “ First time it is due to the hardship of the journey and second time it is due to the loss of bonds of love made in Dera”. I used to make an almost weekly trip for the party meeting across the river.
MKP’s Bhakkar unit was headed by Ustad Ijaz Khan.He was very soft, caring, well-read, articulate and knowledgeable political worker. He knew the local tradition very well and effortlessly communicated with friends over political and ideological issues. We had four core members including a school teacher, a vaccinator, a trade unionist and Ustad Ijaz. The vaccinator used to collect security money from the local market but as he met Ijaz Khan who was completely transformed and turned into a gentle and conscious political activist. Ijaz Khan had also created a group of sympathizers among PPP workers and lecturers in local government college. One of these lecturers was a famous revolutionary poet and intellectual Maqsud ul Hasan Tirmizi. Tirmizi was very defiant and outspoken person. During one of the provincial assembly elections, when he was given magisterial powers, he ordered the arrest of local Deputy Commissioner (DC), on charges of abetting rigging. DC had to go into hiding to avoid arrest and embarrassment. After the elections, DC resumed his duty and Professor Tirmizi had to go into hiding to sort out the matter. MKP did not have a big profile in local politics but the spirit and commitment of its workers and sympathizers made it a source of inspiration for many young people.
We used to meet alternately in Bhakkar and Darya Khan. Ghulam Abbas Shakir was General Secretary of Workers’ Union of Darya Khan Sugar Mills. He was a sound intellectual, soft spoken and could easily mix with the people around him. He came from a very humble background and took pride in the way he dealt with hardships in life. We along with Ijaz Khan used to have very long and lively discussions on local heritage, culture, and politics. Both Ijaz Khan and Shakir had unique insights about the local and national political landscape. Shakir later went for higher education to Patrice Lumumba University Moscow. However, he died young and it was a great loss for his comrades and local communities. All these friends had a great sense of humour because they could laugh at themselves and felt no inhibition in looking at their own goof ups and follies. This is what distinguished them from urban snobbish ‘vanguard’. They kept a low profile but were highly respected by the members of the community.
District President of MKP Malik Dost Mohammed Bhachar lived in Wan Bhacharan and we occasionally held our district level meeting in his village. District organization meetings were attended by his brother Sher Mohammad, a school teacher Nawaz and some of our comrades from Bhakkar and Darya Khan. IMT was led in Mianwali by a college student Wali Mohammed. Afzal Bangash also came there to address a local peasant rally. He effortlessly communicated with the peasants. During the course of his speech, he narrated the event of some mercenary assassins in Charsadda who broke into a house during broad daylight. They feared that their victim’s cries if heard by the outsiders, may lead to their exposure and arrest. To prevent detection of their crime they turned on the radio and raised its volume. He said same is happening with the peasants. Feudal Lords fear that their hue and cry will get them public sympathy, therefore they turned the radio of Islam so that their voice drowns under the high volume of pious sermons. He told them that MKP wants them to raise their voice and pay no attention to the sermons given in sympathy of oppressors.
MKP workers were doing what Afzal Bangash had mentioned in his speech. During 1975-1978 I got the opportunity to meet MKP’s brilliant activists in peasantry and working class; they included Manzoor Bohr from Dera Ghazi Khan, Sufi Sibghat Ullah, Raman, Abdul Waheed and Abdul Qadir and Rahim Bakhsh Jatoi from Raheem Yar Khan. Sufi worked among peasants and Waheed and Qadir were trade union leaders in Liver Brothers. Raheem Yar Khan gave Akram Dhareeja to worker’s movement in Karachi and he was joined by Iqbal Niazi from Mainwali and Shafiq Waziri from Bannu. Rahim Bakhsh Jatoi was a talented journalist and had a very vast social network. Another bright and well read trade unionist from Saraiki region was Iqbal Bhidwal. MKP Multan was led by Rao Suleman and Vehari by Mira Ijaz Beg. They were all shining stars of working class movement but some ill thought out actions by a circle of young leaders brought an unfortunate end to this work. MKP split into MKP and Lok Party. Lok Party had many young vocal activists but could not go very far. My political association with both these groups ended by1979.However, I would like to say a few words about Sufi Sibghat Ullah because his spontaneous remarks on some issues give us brilliant insights into progressive political work and show the mental finesses typical of MKP workers.