People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
July 15, 2007
COMRADE C R ASLAM
On July 12, on behalf of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), its general secretary Prakash Karat sent the following message to Abid Hasan Minto, president of the National Workers Party, Pakistan, condoling the demise of veteran communist leader Comrade C R Aslam.
IT is with a sense of deep grief that I have learnt of the death of Comrade C R Aslam, a veteran of the communist movement in Pakistan.
Ever since he joined the Communist Party of India in 1940, Comrade Aslam remained unwavering in his commitment to the cause of the working class. During his eventful life he was jailed many times and faced untold sufferings.
Comrade Aslam will be remembered by people on both sides of the border for his dedicated service to the cause of socialism, against oppression and his passionate resistance of the military regimes.
A stalwart of the Left movement in Pakistan, Comrade Aslam was held in high esteem by friends and foes alike. His death is a big loss for the Left and democratic movement in Pakistan.
I pay homage to his memory. Please convey my heartfelt condolences to his family members.
On the same day, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury sent the following message on behalf of the party’s international relations department.
I WAS deeply saddened to learn of the death of Comrade C R Aslam, a veteran of the communist movement in Pakistan.
Known for his deep commitment to the working class movement, Comrade Aslam laboured hard to develop and strengthen the Left and progressive movement in Pakistan. His zeal for the cause of the movement was unwavering ever since he joined the Communist Party of India in 1940. It was on account of this that he had to face severe repression and was jailed several times.
I will always cherish my visit to Pakistan when I met him at his Temple Road residence. Despite his age and failing health, he was full of zest and youth.
His death is a big loss to the Left and progressive
movement in Pakistan. It has left a big void which would be difficult to fill in
the near future.
I pay respectful homage to his memory and convey my heartfelt condolences his family members.
VETERAN communist leader of Pakistan and a life-long campaigner for the rights of workers, peasants and other downtrodden sections of society, Comrade C R Aslam expired at Lahore, July 10 evening, after prolonged illness. He was 92. To pay him homage and have a last glimpse of this stalwart of the Left movement in Pakistan, thousands of people thronged his Temple Road residence where his body was kept before the burial took place on Wednesday, July 11.
Chaudhari Rehmatullah Aslam was born at Shahkot near Sheikhupura on January 15, 1915. He completed his schooling at Sangla Hill in 1930 and received his LLB degree in 1936. During this period, he was deeply impressed by the writings of Allama Iqbal and was a frequent visitor to his evening gatherings. His circle included passionate young students like Hameed Nizami, Abul Sattar Niazi, Shabbir Hasan and Mian Shafi (Meem Sheen). Here, heated debates on the contemporary issues like fascism and liberation movement at their shared Railway Road abode brought about a change in C R Aslam's outlook and he embraced the communist philosophy and ideology. In 1940, he became a member of the Communist Party of (undivided) India, and his allegiance to the cause of the working people remained unwavered for the rest of his energetic and eventful life. His mentors in communist circles included stalwarts like Ajoy Kumar Ghosh, Sardar Teja Singh and Feroz-ud-Din Mansoor who later became the general secretary of Communist Party of Pakistan after Comrade Sajjad Zaheer was interned in jail in the infamous Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case.
When the party asked him to organise trade union activities, he took up the task with verve despite his own peasant background, and was put behind bars in 1948. In 1951, he was again rounded up along with scores of leftist activists under the blanket ruse of Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case. He married Syeda Aslam in 1953 and his sons, Qais and Sufian, were born while Comrade C R Aslam was detained in the Lahore Central Jail. From 1948 to 1954, C R Aslam tried to bring out at least four weekly papers but the government brutally frustrated each of his attempts. Not the one to be deterred, however, he continued to improvise tactics till 1969 when he successfully launched the weekly Awami Jamhuriat (People’s Democracy) that educated at least two successive generations of political workers.
The Communist Party of Pakistan was banned in 1954 and C R Aslam joined the NAP where he emerged as the leader of its Bhasani faction in West Pakistan. After the foundation of the Socialist Party in 1970, his most outstanding contribution was to organise conferences of the peasantry in all parts of Pakistan and he made incessant efforts to arouse public opinion to the desirability of greater provincial autonomy. In this period, the Bhutto regime banned the weekly Awami Jamhuriat when he wrote a passionate editorial in favour of the demands of Baloch nationalists. Z A Bhutto made several attempts to make him join the People's Party, but he stuck to his guns. But he equally passionately resisted the Zia regime and went to jail along with many comrades. When the old comrades reorganised themselves under the name of Workers Party in 1999, however, Comrade Aslam was unable to lead it because of his old age and he opted to be only in its Central Committee. However, all the leftist groups in the country always regarded him as a part of their legacy.
Comrade C R Aslam was, in his prime years, one of the most mobile politicians in Pakistan. He has authored more than a dozen books.
The Communist Party of Pakistan, Communist Mazdoor Kisan Party, National Workers Party and other Left formations in the country have condoled the demise of Comrade C R Aslam and expressed determination to carry forward his unfinished task.
A whole chapter of the Left movement in Pakistan comes to a close with the demise of Comrade C R Aslam who was an institution in himself, leading the movement in Pakistan during various periods of political turmoil. In Pakistan media, he has been described as “the last of the Mohicans” who was associated with such stalwarts of the Left in the country as Shaheed Hasan Naasir, Mirza Ibrahim, Feroz-ud-Din Mansoor, Ghaus Bakhsh Bizanjo, Mian Mehmood and Syed Mutlabi Faridabadi.