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NTUF welcomes Pakistan’s climate change prisoner Comrade Baba Jan, pays tribute to his struggle

Karachi, April 08, 2021: The National Trade Union Federation organized an event on Wednesday to pay tribute to the struggle of Comrade Baba Jan against oppression, tyranny and colonial mindsets as he along with his wife Himmat Jan arrived in Karachi for the first time after their marriage. Due to Covid-19 protocols, a limited number of people from different walks of life were invited to honor the revolutionary leader of Gilgit-Baltistan Baba Jan.   

Speaking to the gathering, Baba Jan said that he was overwhelmed by the gesture of love people extended to him by continuing to protest for nine years for his release. He said that he will never forget the love of people and will never do away with their cause. He said that the working-class struggle needed to be strengthened in the country and all stakeholders from students to laborers should join it for the common goal. 

He said that the politics of the left also needed to be revived by sending its message to the public to join them. He added that the local bodies elections are near and all left-leaning activists should go door-to-door handing down their manifesto to the public so that they know that there is a third alternative available. He said that the political activists must stand for the oppressed as this is the true revolution. 

NTUF’s general secretary Nasir Mansoor said that Baba Jan was the first climate change prisoner of Pakistan and had played a pivotal role in the campaign for compensation to the affectees of the 2010 Attabad disaster. He said that in a bid to crush the movement for unpaid compensation, the then government ordered police to open fire on the demonstrators which killed two people, a father and his son, and later implicated Baba Jan and his companions in a fake case. 

Mansoor said that basically, the political and ruling elite of the region were wary of Baba Jan’s popularity among masses and deemed it as a threat to their hegemony. He said that Baba Jan and his fellows were sentenced to life imprisonment after a one-way trial in which the accused were not heard in 2011. He said that however, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and across the country continued their struggle to free Baba Jan from this unjust imprisonment and eventually after nine years, the government had to release him but on certain conditions.

He said that after the release of Baba Jan, the valley of GB witnessed its biggest public wedding in history which was attended by estimatedly 8,000 people and everyone was welcomed in it be it political rivals or government officials and treated with the same respect and hospitality. He said that the Himmat Jan, the wife of Baba Jan, was also a political activist and had waited for him for years. He congratulated the couple and also thanked them for their visit to Karachi. 

Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum general secretary Saeed Baloch said that Baba Jan had continued the legacy of the true leaders by sacrificing years of his life in jail for the public. He lauded Baba Jan as a symbol of struggle and his personality united everyone, be they from left or right of the political spectrum. He said the struggle of Baba Jan and the GB people had set a direction for the generations to come and across the globe. 

Asghar Dashti, head of international relations department at Urdu University, said that the voice of Baba Jan had shaken the foundation of the colonial-like rule in the GB and therefore the government attempted to put him away. He called Baba Jan the prisoner of conscience and tribute to his struggle. He said that Baba Jan was a true revolutionary as he preferred to care for the public over him.

Others who spoke at the event include Home Based Women Workers Federation general secretary Zehra Khan, Sajjad Zaheer, Saira Feroze, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan vice-chairman Khizer Qazi. 

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