Raza Naeem on the life and legacy of the legendary popular leader Comrade Hyder Bux Jatoi

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto spending time with Hyder Bux Jatoi

Raza Naeem on the life and legacy of the legendary popular leader Comrade Hyder Bux Jatoi
The famous long poem of Comrade Hyder Bux Jatoi titled Jiye Sindh (Long Live Sindh) achieved such respect that afterwards every bourgeois used it. Today it has become a salutation substituting for Asalamu Alaikum or Khuda Hafiz. In addition, Sindh Pyari (Beloved Sindh) and Salam Sindh (Salute Sindh) too became very popular poems of Hyder Bux Jatoi.

His words resided in the hearts of the common people.

“Be-insafi jo bunyad

The nabud aen barbad

Aa Tarikh jo hi anjam

Jiye Sindh, Jiye Sindh”

The reader will enjoy more if this musical ‘Jiye Sindh, Jiye Sindh’ is published here in Sindhi and is, indeed, understood in Sindhi.

But here is the English translation, in any case, for whatever it is worth:

“On you Sindh a thousand salutes

May you be happy like a garden and spring


May you remain enchanted in peace!

Long live Sindh, long live Sindh

Every human being is our brother

This is our faith

This is our Islam

Long live Sindh, long live Sindh

Intrigue and jealousy be barbed

‘Affection and love, long live!’

This is our message

Long live Sindh, long live Sindh

Long live Sindh, long live Sindh

Let Sindh drink the bowl of love

Let the high and low drink this bowl

Long live Sindh, long live Sindh

Long live Sindh, long live Sindh 

Long live sweet life (lovable being) everywhere

Let love spring from our mango and rose-apple

Long live Sindh, long live Sindh”

This great leader was put in jail eight times from 1951 to 1969. Hyder Bux Jatoi is remembered with respect not only in Pakistan but the entire progressive world. When the great Chinese leader Zhou Enlai came to Pakistan, he went to see the Ghulam Muhammad Barrage. At this occasion, he also expressed a wish to meet Comrade Hyder Bux Jatoi. So the meeting of Jatoi with Zhou Enlai was arranged.

Zhou Enlai warmly embraced the Sindhi peasants’ leader and pinned the badge of China’s revolutionary leader Mao Zedong on Jatoi’s chest.

Sheikh Mujibur Rehman with Hyder Bux Jatoi

It was a misfortune of the Hari Tehreek that some opportunist and rash people came into the ranks of its leadership. So we see that Qazi Faiz Muhammad left to foment revolution in the Awami League and Ghulam Muhammad Leghari went into the National Awami Party to search for socialism. In this manner, the Hari Tehreek began to fade in the seventh decade. In 1965 comrade Abdul Qadir passed away and in 1970 Comrade Hyder Bux Jatoi left for his eternal abode.

Consider this extract from the weekly Awami Jamhuriyat issue dated the 13th of June, 1970, to get a sense of the man’s commitment and the respect he was held in by fellow revolutionaries:

“The deceased had been ill for a long time. When the invitation for the Toba Tek Singh Kisan Conference was given to him on his deathbed, he felt sorrow more than happiness at the gathering of the peasants of the whole of West Pakistan; because he was unable to participate in this historic gathering due to his illness and weakness. This helplessness made him cry incessantly. His message which was read at the Kisan Conference spoke for his heartfelt emotions at the time. He was a sincere worker of that class of Pakistan without ending whose backwardness the construction of a free, prosperous and democratic Pakistan is impossible. In Sindh the deceased made several attempts to organize the hari movement with the cooperation of other comrades. He properly understood the problems of the haris and their causes and confronted miseries bravely for their solution, bore the tortures of jails, suffered calamities at the hands of self-proclaimed Sindhi leaders, who kept appearing in front wearing the dress of nationalism in order to use the haris within their own feudal rivalries. The death of Mr Hyder Bux Jatoi is a tragic mishap for the peasant movement of Pakistan, especially the peasant movement of Sindh. The peasants of Sindh have lost their priceless and sincere son.”

Hyder Bux Jatoi not only witnessed Pakistan being destroyed by landlords and skirt-carriers of US imperialism, but also struggled strongly against them; in labour-filled prisons, hunger strikes, in rallies and processions and in writings.

Here is a beautiful extract from his writing:

“You fill up the jails

You control the youth

You extinguish the candlestands

You blow up those who understand

Bring in the takers of bribes

Who will put together bungalows and palaces

The skies are embarrassed

You recite the national anthems

That Long Live Pakistan”

The people of Sindh associated Hyder Chowk (in Hyderabad) with the publishing house and residence of Hyder Bux Jatoi; and the people of the whole region remember him as Baba-e-Sindh (Father of Sindh).

Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, the equivalent Baba-e-Baluchistan (Father of Baluchistan) used to refer to Jatoi in very weighty terms – and his was a weighty tongue. In the same manner, Khair Bakhsh Marri referred to him with respect. Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti also talked about him with great reverence. The great Punjabi communist leader C. R. Aslam kept referring to the public human services of Hyder Bux Jatoi.

The people’s poet Habib Jalib acknowledged Jatoi as his leader and giver of political consciousness. Not for nothing had he penned a poem on Jatoi:

“Hyder Bux Jatoi re bhayya Hyder Bux Jatoi

There is no other who sympathizes with the hari

Hyder Bux Jatoi re bhayya Hyder Bux Jatoi

One landlord alone, robs the wealth of us in our thousands

He dresses well, roams in a car, his pleasures like brigands

We cry with hunger and his house replete with fairs

We cannot even get a blanket, a shawl he himself wears

Hyder Bux Jatoi re bhayya Hyder Bux Jatoi”

Fittingly, May 21 also marks the annual World Day for Cultural Diversity. One of the goals which UNESCO sought to foster when it first sanctioned this day was to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms, something which Jatoi fought for all his life vis-à-vis Sindh and in the context of its peasantry.

Mao Zedong enjoys a special place in the minds and hearts of thinkers and activists belonging to the developing world, non-white races, oppressed nations and struggling classes, especially in primarily agricultural countries like Pakistan. Mao’s works have helped us better understand and critique both imperialism and feudalism. In his essay The Chinese Revolution and the Chinese Communist Party written in December 1939 after he had cemented his undisputed leadership of the Chinese Communist Party following the legendary Long March, he writes,

The ruthless economic exploitation and political oppression of the peasants by the landlord class forced them into numerous uprisings against its rule.... It was the class struggles of the peasants, the peasant uprisings and peasant wars that constituted the real motive force of historical development in Chinese feudal society.”

Then in On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship written June 1949, a decade later and exactly four months before founding the first communist republic in Asia, Mao notes,

The serious problem is the education of the peasantry. The peasant economy is scattered, and the socialization of agriculture, judging by the Soviet Union’s experience, will require a long time and painstaking work. Without socialization of agriculture, there can be no complete, consolidated socialism.”

Mao’s words came back to me while I was working on this piece on Hyder Bux Jatoi.

Like Mao, Jatoi betrayed his own class and left his cushy job to take up the cause of the peasants. Like Mao, he was a poet committed to his land, language, people and culture, and lived for 69 years with great dignity. His dignity was drawn from the land he loved.

But unlike Mao, he passed away still waiting for the dream of a socialist, sovereign and prosperous land to materialise. With Jatoi’s untimely death, Sindh’s peasants were prematurely orphaned.

Raza Naeem is a Pakistani social scientist, book critic and award-winning translator and dramatic reader based in Lahore, where he is also the president of the Progressive Writers Association. He can be reached via email: razanaeem@hotmail.com and on Twitter: @raza_naeem1979