Relevance of GM Syed today

Published: January 17, 2013
The writer is Chief Executive of the Strengthening Participatory Organisation

The writer is Chief Executive of the Strengthening Participatory Organisation

GM Syed, often demonised as a traitor by establishment ranks, is among the least understood and most maligned founding fathers of Pakistan. At a juncture of history when the country is in a morass of extremism, militancy and corruption, his relevance in contemporary Pakistan is of great significance.

An objective study of GM Syed’s political career proffers certain solutions for the current crisis of the state. He always stood for separation of religion from state affairs and advocated greater autonomy for federating units. The Charter of the Pakistan People’s Organisation, which he founded in 1948, envisioned a progressive, democratic country. The party proposed to make the country a ‘union of autonomous socialist republics’. The prescription could have stitched a tenable federation and averted its fragmentation. The party charter also emphasised the recognition of Pakistan as a multi-nation state where historic identities and rights of the constituent nations should be respected .The creation of Bangladesh and the disgruntlement of Balochistan and Sindh signify the hitherto unresolved riddle.

Another relevance of GM Syed’s work is his unambiguous proposition for separation of religion from state affairs. Although Pakistan was created on the basis of the two-nation theory, it is widely believed that, after its creation, the Quaid-e-Azam intended to make it a secular state. Vested interests, however, were reluctant to wean off from religiosity, as it offered a lucrative nexus with global powers. Besides the national leadership, GM Syed also berated superpowers for blending religion with regional politics for their strategic appetite. He delivered a spellbinding speech at the Vienna International Peace Conference in 1952. Addressing delegates from the US and Britain, he deplored American and British efforts to unite Muslims based on their faith which, he felt, engendered serious ramifications. He warned them that patronising such forces would promote religious extremism and fascism. These words testify the prescience of a maverick.

GM Syed’s intellectual contribution was enormous. He bequeathed a treasure trove of over 60 published books and a huge cache of unpublished work. Mostly in Sindhi, his books are a testimony of the history of Sindh and the subcontinent. His landmark books Paigham-e-Latif (Message of Shah Latif) and Jee’aan ditho aa moon (As I witnessed) are especially seminal works of Sindhi literature and politics. In Paigham-e-Latif, he reinterpreted Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai as an icon of the social consciousness of Sindh and not a mere reclusive dervish. His interpretation of Bhitai rediscovered him as a national poet of Sindh, whose message of humanity characterised the soul of the province as an abode of universal peace. Jee’an ditho aa moon provides an unusual comparative analysis of religions and an assault on religious extremism. The book riled clerics prompting them to issue an edict against him. It did not, however, muzzle him and he continued to proselytise his views.

For his defiant views, he remained interned for over 30 years. One may repudiate his political views but certainly cannot relegate his commitment to peaceful coexistence, democratic and secular values in politics and rights of nations. All of this is very relevant for today’s Pakistan to make it a tenable state.

Note: January 17 is the 109th birth anniversary of GM Syed.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 17th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • Mehran
    Jan 17, 2013 - 3:19AM

    Very true, G.M Syed was one of the leading founding father of Pakistan, who strengthened Muslim league during pre-partition, his historic Pakistan resolution is still part of Sindh’Assembly’s record which demands Sindh to be the part of federation of Pakistan. But unfortunately post independence, opportunist politicians, Mullas and powerful institutes cornered many important Heros of Independence. His message of secularism, multi-nation origin of Pakistan and autonomy for provinces lend him labels of traitor and was under house arrest for nearly 30 years. This is the time to accept and respect our forgotten real heros, who wanted us to return to our indigenous roots of indus valley civilization rather than supporting Arabization of Pakistan.


  • shahid
    Jan 17, 2013 - 3:37AM

    Although Pakistan was created on the basis of the two-nation theory, it is widely believed that, after its creation, the Quaid-e-Azam intended to make it a secular state.

    So in his 100 statements about future of Pakistan, that he gave before Pakistan’s creation, which contradict this thesis, he was deceiving his followers. And then those followers did not discover it for many years to come and drafted the Objectives Resolution and constitutions following it. Does this sound believable?


    Jan 17, 2013 - 7:08AM

    G.M. Syed and A.K. Fazal Haq had one point agenda: Religion should be separated from politics.


  • nirode mohanty
    Jan 17, 2013 - 8:34AM

    His dreams would come true.Sindh should preserve the Indus Valley civilization, the most glorious civilization. Sindh should reject the Arabization of Sindh.Truth will prevail.


  • Jan 17, 2013 - 12:26PM

    G.M Syed,s ideas to separate religion from politics is need of the hour even today


  • Sindhudesh
    Jan 17, 2013 - 9:33PM

    Not maligned. We love him. We worship him. We demand Sindhudeshh


  • mystreeman
    Jan 17, 2013 - 10:53PM

    G.M.Syed was responsible for mixing religion with politics in Sindh in pre-partition India. He was the Muslim leader who championed the cause of Masjid Manzil Gah that brought Sindhi hindus in confrontation with Sindhi Muslims. So we must also mention his past while eulogizing his secular credentials in Post-Partition days.


  • Arbab Ali
    Jan 17, 2013 - 11:30PM

    G.M. Syed has termed Pakistan as big fraud with small Nations. His all predications are proving to be true.The whole world is now calling it as a failed state.


  • Sterry
    Jan 17, 2013 - 11:34PM

    @Sindhudesh: Go make your Sindudesh in India – Sindis don’t want anything to do with your Indian agenda. Why not worry about Nagaland than be an Indian troll here. Do you not understand that GM Syed worked for Sind to be part of Pakistan?


  • Sikander Baloch
    Jan 18, 2013 - 4:29AM

    GM Syed message of peace and humanity is doubt,he should have been more understood n still need research over his intellectual work and message,which we are in dire need of today’s world.he taught us that Sindhi as nation.


  • Nero
    Jan 22, 2013 - 12:41AM

    Mr. Jinnah wanted a “secular” Pakistan, but achieved it through the slogan of “muslim hai to muslim league mein aa” and threats of “direct action”. No matter how sharp and intelligent one is, nation building and power politics don’t go together.


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