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Tufail Abbas ( c. 1928 – 8 September 2019) [1] was a Pakistani trade unionist and communist politician. He was a veteran labour leader in the airline industry, heading the Airways Employees Union.[2][3] In later years he served as chairman of the Pakistan Mazdoor Mahaz ('Pakistan Workers Front') and chief editor of the Urdu monthly Awami Manshoor.[4]

Airline industry union leaderEdit

Abbas was a union leader at Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) during four decades.[5][6] He had become an employee at Orient Airways in late 1948, and took part in the strike of March 1949.[6] When PIA acquired Orient Airways, Abbas became a PIA employee.[6] At the time PIA management and union leaders were in close contact, the PIA Managing-Director Malik Nur Khan sent Abbas to India to study labour practices at Air India.[6] Abbas was jailed on different occasions due to his labour activism.[6]

In the Communist PartyEdit

Abbas was recruited to the Communist Party of Pakistan in the early 1950s by Ahmed Aziz (who was later accused of having working as a government infiltrator).[7] At the time Abbas was working in the airline industry.[7] By the late 1950s Abbas held the post of secretary of the Karachi Committee of the Communist Party.[7] The Karachi Committee was hierarchically placed under the Hyderabad-baded Sindh Provincial Committee, but under Abbas' leadership the Karachi Committee became increasingly independent.[5] Apart from his base in the PIA union, Abbas also counted on support within the National Students Federation and some labour groups in the city.[5]

Sino-Soviet splitEdit

In 1966 the Sindh Provincial Committee was split in pro-Soviet and pro-China parties, a split taking place in the aftermath of the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war.[8] Abbas emerged as the general secretary of the underground, pro-Beijing Communist Party.[2] His group won the support of the majority in the National Students Federation.[9] Abbas was invited to the October 1 celebrations in China in 1966.[10]

After the 1966 split Abbas' faction began seeking to build an organization across West Pakistan.[9] It also had some contacts in East Pakistan.[9] Abbas' labour wing was known as the Quami Mazdoor Mahaz ('National Labour Front'), which emerged from the Markezi Mazdoor Committee in 1969.[3][11] The Airways Employees Union was the strongest union inside the Quami Mazdoor Mahaz.[3]

Alliance with BhuttoEdit

Tacitly, the Abbas faction provided support to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.[12] In the late 1960s, some member of the Abbas' faction joined Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party on the instruction of the party and began occupying positions in the PPP.[13] Abbas' support base amongst students and workers played an important role in building the PPP in Karachi at its earliest phase.[14] One of the key leaders of Abbas' faction that became a PPP leader was Meraj Muhammad Khan.[14] Nevertheless, Abbas' group opted not to participate in the 1970 elections.[13]

In the context of the Bangladesh Liberation War, Abbas' faction opposed military action in East Pakistan at some points whilst maintaining a critical view of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's Awami League.[12]

Sino-Albanian splitEdit

Abbas sided with Albania in the Sino-Albanian split.[10]

Later yearsEdit

Abbas' autobiography Subah ki lagan ('Yearning for Dawn') was published in 2010.[4][6]

Abbas died in Karachi on September 8, 2019.[15]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ https://www.dawn.com/news/1504267/comrade-tufail-abbas-passes-away
  2. ^ a b Kamran Asdar Ali (2015). Surkh Salam: Communist Politics and Class Activism in Pakistan, 1947-1972. p. 392. ISBN 978-0-19-940308-0.
  3. ^ a b c Amjad, Rashid and Khalid Mahmood. Industrial relations and the political process in Pakistan 1947–1977
  4. ^ a b The News. Tufail Abbas’s autobiography launched
  5. ^ a b c Kamran Asdar Ali (2015). Surkh Salam: Communist Politics and Class Activism in Pakistan, 1947–1972. p. 230. ISBN 978-0-19-940308-0.
  6. ^ a b c d e f The Tribune. From Tufail Abbas to Sohail Baluch, the way of the union
  7. ^ a b c Kamran Asdar Ali (2015). Surkh Salam: Communist Politics and Class Activism in Pakistan, 1947–1972. p. 380. ISBN 978-0-19-940308-0.
  8. ^ Kamran Asdar Ali (2015). Surkh Salam: Communist Politics and Class Activism in Pakistan, 1947–1972. p. 231. ISBN 978-0-19-940308-0.
  9. ^ a b c Kamran Asdar Ali (2015). Surkh Salam: Communist Politics and Class Activism in Pakistan, 1947-1972. pp. 232–233. ISBN 978-0-19-940308-0.
  10. ^ a b Revolutionary Democracy. An Interview with Tufail Abbas of the Pakistan Mazdoor Mahaaz
  11. ^ Kamran Asdar Ali (2015). Surkh Salam: Communist Politics and Class Activism in Pakistan, 1947–1972. p. 237. ISBN 978-0-19-940308-0.
  12. ^ a b Kamran Asdar Ali (2015). Surkh Salam: Communist Politics and Class Activism in Pakistan, 1947–1972. p. 399. ISBN 978-0-19-940308-0.
  13. ^ a b Kamran Asdar Ali (2015). Surkh Salam: Communist Politics and Class Activism in Pakistan, 1947–1972. p. 389. ISBN 978-0-19-940308-0.
  14. ^ a b Workers Hammer. Pakistan 1968–69: Hidden history of the workers upsurge
  15. ^ Dawn. Comrade Tufail Abbas passes away