Nazir Abbasi was a courageous, intrepid student leader who was killed on August 9, 1989 during Zia-ul-Haq’s regime while under custody. According to Abbasi’s family, he was being held by secret agencies and it was a certain Colonel Imtiaz Ahmed who tortured him to death. Since then Sindhi youth and political activists have been observing his death anniversary each year in remembrance of the hardships Abbasi faced throughout his life and for the kind of inspiring leader he was.
Although Pakistan has witnessed democratic as well as military dictatorships, the investigations into Abbasi’s death have never taken off. Benzair Bhutto’s first government initiated the investigation into the death but till today, remains incomplete.
Abbasi was born in Tando Allahyar and joined politics of the Left during college. He used to work as a munshi (clerk) at the Tando Allahyar municipality at night while he studied and continued with political activism during the day.
When he joined the Communist Party of Pakistan, the party was mainly working underground, holding clandestine meetings. He married Hameeda Ghanghro in 1978, but soon after marriage he was arrested and incarcerated in the Quetta Quli camp.
Abbasi worked for political and economic equality the downtrodden. He was not only a hardworker and a believer in Leftist politics and a revolution, but also devoted his life to the cause. Throughout most of his political career, he either remained under arrest or was worked secretly. He was the president of Sindh National Student Federation and later also formulated a student body by the name of Pakistan Federal Union of Students – both of which were affiliated with the communist party of Pakistan.
A contemporary of Abbasi, who was also part of a nationalist organisation stated that he had discussed with him, an idea of forming a reading club that would include nationalists, leftists and others that would allow debate and progressive thought.
Nazir Abbasi was arrested along with his fellow-activists, Professor Jamal Naqvi, Badar Abro, Kamal Warsi, Shabir Shar and, myself. The agencies unleashed extreme torture, but nothing could break Abbasi’s courage. He finally succumbed to his wounds and died. According to an official at the Edhi Foundation who buried Abbasi, it seemed as though some one had attacked every part of his body with a broken glass bottle. Nazir Abbasi was laid to rest at Karachi’s Sakhi Hassan graveyard.
The agencies found handbills, pamphlets, some magazines published on a cyclostyle machine along with some other such literature. We were charged for attempting to overthrow Zia’s regime and attempting a revolution similar to that in the Soviet Union and Afghanistan.
Nazir Abbasi was of a high caliber and always thought with an open mind. He constantly sought ways to include everyone’s thoughts and ideas to a common platform. Prof. Jamal Naqvi, his senior comrade, recalls his last conversation with Nazir after arrest:
Abbasi asked “Comrade, what is line of action?”
Prof Naqvi replied, “We are communist, will remain communist and will return from prison as communists.”
Nazir replied in affirmative, with a thumb up gesture.
Nazir stood by his promise till the very end.