Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP) and its Chairman Engineer Jameel Ahmad Malik paid a high tribute on the birth centenary year of Syed Sibt-e-Hasan and said that the life and legacy of Sibte Hasan can be understood in three ways: as one of the founders of the Progressive Writers’ Association (PWA) in colonial India; as one of the leaders of the CPP in Pakistan; and as one of the pioneers of progressive journalism in Pakistan while working for such distinguished newspapers as Imroz, The Pakistan Times and Lail-o-Nahar.
Syed Sibt-e-Hasan (سید سبط حسن) was an eminent scholar, journalist and activist of Pakistan. He is regarded as the pioneer of Socialism and Marxism in Pakistan, as well as the moving spirit behind the Progressive Writers Association.
Sibte Hasan was born on 31 July 1912 in Ambari Azamgarh Uttar Pradesh, India. He graduated from Aligarh Muslim University. For higher studies he went to Columbia University, USA. In 1942, Sibte Hasan joined the Communist Party of India. After partition of India, he migrated to Pakistan.
He arrived in Lahore in 1948 and started work with the newly-minted Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP) together with his comrades Sajjad Zaheer, Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Ashfaq Beg. However, the CPP was later banned on a trumped-up charge of attempting to overthrow the Liaquat Ali Khan government.
Sibte Hasan was arrested along with scores of comrades in 1951 in the Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case and remained in jail until 1955. After Pakistan’s first military coup in 1958, led by General Ayub Khan, he was again arrested. Thus, the comparison to the famed Italian Marxist thinker, Antonio Gramsci, is not accidental; however unlike Gramsci, Sibte Hasan’s internment mercifully proved temporary and he went on to research and write his seminal works.
It is not possible in this short tribute to do justice to each of Sibte Hasan’s 11 works in Urdu and the lone one in English. Most of these works, like
- Musa se Marx tak
- Mazi ke Mazar
- Pakistan main Tehzeeb ka Irtaqa
- Adab aur Roshan Khayali
- Sukhan dar Sukhan
- The Battle of Ideas in Pakistan
- Bhagat Singh Our Us Ky Sathi
- Marx Our Mashriq
require separate discussions and expositions.
He also served as editors of noted journals including; Naya Adab and Lail-o-Nehar. He died of a heart attack on 20 April 1986 in New Delhi while returning from a conference in India. He was buried in Karachi and was member of the CPP till his death.
The year 2016 is being celebrated as the birth centenary year of Sibte Hasan. He was not only Pakistan’s own Gramsci but also its gadfly, constantly provoking and questioning its elite and people alike with uncomfortable questions in the best Socratic tradition. Yet, he has been studiously excluded and ignored by all the major literary festivals celebrated in Pakistan this year, including the city where he chose to live his long and productive life says the CPP Chairman Engineer Jameel in its concluding remarks.