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Tributes paid to anti-nuclear activist, journalist Praful Bidwai in Karachi

24 July 2015

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Tributes paid to anti-nuclear activist, journalist Praful Bidwai in Karachi

KARACHI, July 24, 2015: Peace, human rights and women rights activists, academicians, political workers, students leaders, artists and economists eulogized the services of noted Indian jk6ournalist and anti-nuclear peace activist Praful Bidwai for peace in South Asia at a condolence reference at Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Auditorium here on Friday afternoon.

Organized by Pakistan Peace Coalition (Sindh), the memorial reference was largely attended by peace activists, writers, lawyers, professionals, civil society activists, columnists and students including President of Pakistan Peace Coalition Sindh Dr. Tipu Sultan, Karamat Ali , Executive Director of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), Dr. Jaffar Ahmed, Director of Pakistan Study Centre, University of Karachi, senior economist Dr. Kaiser Bengali, senior journalist Muqtida Mansoor, senior lawyer and Secretary General of Forum for Secular Pakistan Javed Qazi, Ms. Sheema Kermani of Tahrik-e-Niswan and Dr. Jaipal Chhaparia.

Praful Bidwai who died in Amsterdam in Netherlands on June 23, 2015, was cremated in India. Some ashes of Praful Bidwai have been brought to Pakistan for immersion in River Indus. This ashes immersion ceremony would be held at River Indus, Al-Manzar Jamshoro on Saturday. Praful was an analytical journalist, writer and independent scholar-researcher in social science related fields. In the 1994 Praful Bidwai was active among the founding members of Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy. In the mid 1990’s he co-founded the Movement in India for Nuclear Disarmament (MIND). He also cofounded and campaigned for the Coalition of Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP) in India in 2000.

Dr. Jaffar Ahmed, Director of Pakistan Study Centre, University of Karachi in his key note addressed spoke on various aspects of the writings by Praful Bidwai. He appreciated the role of Praful Bidwai in the anti-nuclearization campaign in South Asian. “After Praful’s death this peace movement has received a great shock and a window of the hope has been closed,” he added.

Praful wrote on a variety of topics including Pakistan-India peace issues, economic subjects and the current social issues of South Asia. Praful kept the focus of his writing on demilitarization in South Asia especially he supported the nuclear non-proliferation. After 9/11 incident, Praful severely criticised the war-mongering by India. Praful wrote a number of articles on initiation of a peace process with Pakistan, even when India was aggressively following the war-path, he added.

Praful was also a committed anti-imperialism activist and wrote many articles on growing influence of America in the world. Praful wrote against the “Washington Consensus”, which is referred as a set of broadly free market economic ideas, supported by the IMF, the World Bank, the EU and the US. “This idea is an exploitative in nature and it is against the developing countries,” Dr. Jafar said.

He had mentioned the weakness of the left politics in India, Dr. Jaffar said adding that in his articles, Praful wrote on new social changes and emergence of new interest groups. Praful frequently advised the Indian Left to include the issues of grassroots like health, unemployment, decent wages, pro-poor housing, urban transportation, police accountabilities in their programmes.

Praful wrote against the policies of Aam Admi Party which are also reflected in Imran Khan’s politics in Pakistan and their dictatorial decisions. In his opinion this type of politics is short-lived, Dr. Jaffar added.

Karamat Ali, Executive Director of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) who remained in close friendship with Praful Bidwai for the last 30 years said he met with him in 1980s and jointly worked for labour rights and demilitarization in South Asia. Praful Bidwai was associated with trade union movement in India, he added.

Environment was an area of concern for Praful, who practically worked for protection of environment. “He purchased a battery-charged car, which was small in size and spent all his entire life on driving that environment-friendly car, he added. He wrote a classic book on climate change.

Karamat Ali said Praful wrote another book on communalism. He wrote articles on political economy and a book on history of trade union. “We need to celebrate the life work of Praful Bidwai.”

Praful raised his voice wherever there were injustices, atrocities in the world. He fearlessly spoke for the rights of Palestine people. The Palestinian Embassy sent a floral wreath on the occasion of his cremation.

Senior economist and Advisor to Balochistan Chief Minister Dr. Kaiser Bengali said peace is essential for the world progress.

In recent days, he pointed out that three major international pacts have been signed, including Iran’s nuclear deal, which is important for Pakistan as well. “We are now able to get gas from Iran,” he added.

According to him this Iran deal is an initial step and would lead to end of the US support to Israel and Saudi Arabia. “This deal would be better for peace in the world.”

Another international deal, which is important for the world peace was signed recently which will restore relationships between the USA and Cuba. However, he cautioned that the Greece deal with European Union was dangerous one especially for common people. This accord to provide further loan to Greece but will further aggravate the economic crises in Greece and would harm the common people. Unemployment rate, malnutrition have increased, women are facing problems in Greece and people are not getting social security.

Dr. Bengali underlined the need to restart the class-war in South Asia. Pakistan may face the situation of Greece if the neoliberal economic policies continued. “We do not protest against unemployment or for our rights.”

Senior Columnist and political analyst Muqtida Mansoor Khan said there is need to take the message of peace spread by Praful Bidwai and asked for doing translations of all his articles in Pakistani languages like Urdu and Sindhi.

Muqtida Khan said the G5+ deal with Iran for Iran’s nuclear programme is a great success for the people of Iran, which is a welcome sign for Pakistan.

He said the South Asia region should be made a visa-free region, which would help increase the peace.

Javed Qazi, Secretary General of Forum for Secular Forum said Praful Bidwai spent his entire life for the peace between India and Pakistan. In Pakistan there are severe challenges regarding secularism.

Ms. Sheema Kerman of Tahrik-e-Niswan read out a paper on violence situation in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent. She said nuclearization is an international threat. There is no other choice to shun the differences on the basis of religion and live as a secular, she added.

Dr. Tipu Sultan in his presidential address said he worked with Praful Bidwai for nuclear-free South Asia. He said the world’s economic scene has been changed after creation of another World Bank in China.