Remembering Hasan Nasir by Syed Ehtisham

Scion of an aristocratic family of Hyderabad, Deccan, Hasan Nasir was a student at the Cambridge University in England, when he came under the influence of the communist party, which had a vibrant presence in the academia of UK during the post WW II period.


According to a senior friend, he was on his way to England, when his steamship stopped in Karachi. He went on shore to meet progressive friends, who persuaded him to stay in Karachi. According to party sources, he was sent by the CPI as assistant to Sajjad Zaheer, who took over as the secretary general of the party in Pakistan.

The CPP was implicated in in the so called Pindi conspiracy case of 1951. besides army, navy and air force officers, Sajjad Zaheer, Faiz Sahib, Hasan Nasir and a few journalists were arrested. Faiz sahib wrote some of his best poetry in Hyderabad Sind jail. According to CPP sources, the conspiracy was a very half baked affair. Some army officers, in their cups, boasted of their plans to intelligence officers. They were picked up and to make the affair credible, the CPP was hauled in.

The titular leader of the conspiracy was one general Akbar Khan, who was disgruntled with the governments Kashmir policy. I met him in Karachi in 1956-57. He was such a vacuuous person, I am glad the conspiracy did not succeed. PM Liaquat Ali Khan had been besieged by the landowners (he had left his estate in India). Suhrawardy and Fazal haq from East Pakistan were snapping at his heels. He made much of the conspiracy, made a very emotional speech and gained high stature and acceptance, so far denied him, because he had been so much in the shadow of Jinnah. It is believed that he meant to use his newly acquired standing to get the Constituent Assembly to pass a constitution and hold elections. He was conveniently assassinated.

Pandit Nehru apparently interceded on behalf of Sajjad Zaheer and Hasan Nasir. they were released, Sajjad Zaheer went back to India, while his mother took Hasan Nasir to Switzerland. Hasan Nasir returned to Pakistan and took over as the secretary general of CPP. He also organized the National Awami Party of Maulana Bhashani and Wali Khan The following is from my book, “Across Three continents”: “Hasan Nasir went underground when Ayub Khan took over and suppressed all political activities and freedom of expession. He spent a part of his underground time in the home of the foreign secretary whose daughters were said to be in love with him. He had truly declassed himself.

Wadood (a highly respected student leader) once asked me to accompany him, in a rather mysterious fashion, to an out the way locality in the town. We met Hasan Nasir who had spent the previous night sleeping on the footpath. I must say he did not look any worse for it. He was eventually arrested.

It was widely believed at the time that he was betrayed to the police by a close and trusted associate, a journalist in the higher ranks of the party. He was tortured to death in Lahore Fort.He was only thirty-two.Hassan Nasir

Faiz, arguably the most renowned Urdu poet and unarguably the leading progressive muse in the language in the twentieth century, wrote a beautiful elegy for him. I quote a verse Kaun Hota Hai hareefe-e-mai mard afghane ishq Hai mukarrar ye sila labe saqi pe mere baad Transliterated it means that who will carry the emblem of defiance after me).

It was November 13, we were in the midst of a Fete to raise funds for DOW Medical college, when the news of his asassination broke. Sher Afzal broke down. That reminds me of an anecdote. The secretary general of the communist party of the USA while addressing a secret politburo session started “Comrades”  and after a pause added “members of the FBI”.

A judicial luminary and erstwhile votary of Benazir’s PPP of told me recently that security agencies had their men in the highest councils of the party and were fully briefed on all discussions. Hasan Nasir had managed to exclude the agents from two or three meetings. Interrogators insistently asked him about them. His only response was Bako Mat (Don’t talk rubbish), don’t talk rot.

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