The Case of Abdur Rehman, 1972-1974
Dr. Anushay Malik
By Usama Shahid
Dr. Anushay Malik is a history professor at LUMS, and her talk consisted of an article from her thesis ‘The power of the labour movement in the 1950s and 1960s’. The article presented concentrated on the story of Abdul Rehman, how she came across his story and how it affected her thesis. The talk was organised by Fatima Mustafa, the instructor for Introduction to Politics in Developing Countries.
Dr. Anushay Malik started the talk with a brief introduction of her thesis. Her thesis was based around the 1950s and 1960s, and the labour movements that took place during that time, in Lahore. While conducting research for her thesis, she encountered the name Abdul Rehman, leader of the labour movements during 1972-1974. She referred to Abdul Rehman as a ‘ghost’, a person who was ignored by many historians documenting that time. ‘Abdul Rehman was a person that you could get to beat up a person that was rough to you. A person disrespects your sister and Abdul Rehman would beat him up. He wasn’t a “Gunda” of sorts, he was more disciplined and would support the cause of the labour movement with discipline outside work. This is what made me want to research Abdul Rehman’ stated Dr. Malik. Abdul Rehman’s case came to her attention while she was looking at pamphlets of different labour parties. Abdul Rehman had a similar pamphlet that was used in the ward 5 elections in 1972. It showcased Abdul Rehman, promoting himself, as the second Bhutto.
Dr. Anushay Malik continued the story of Abdul Rehman by telling about his rise to power and how his emergence and victory in the ward elections against a firm favourite was a real surprise to political leaders of the time. He worked in the factory for packages in north Lahore and after the election win, became the head of 2500 to 3000 workers. His political influence and his role in getting the workers to believe a revolt was possible, was also explained by Dr. Anushay Malik. His growing influence got him a few enemies, namely Altaf Baloch and Koshi Muhammad Dogar. Both the individuals would be involved in Abdul Rehman’s murder, with the former being charged with the crime. Dr. Anushay Malik was critical of the trial proceedings, stating that workers allegiances made the case almost impossible to solve.
After the completion of Abdul Rehman’s story, Dr. Malik opened the floor for questions and comments on her thesis, which was an intriguing session on its own. The question on everyone’s mind, ‘where did the power of the workers come from?’ was left unanswered by Dr. Malik, as she stated it was the heart of her thesis and would not be let out now. The questions that were asked were answered by the instructor Fatima Mustafa. This talk was a new area for most people and was a great experience as a whole.