The International Labour Day brought to mind the extraordinary life story of Hassan Nisar. Independence and the creation of Pakistan during August 1947 seems to have brought about a substantial change in the mindsets of the scions of the aristocracy that had shared in the governance of British India together with the British themselves. The latter seem to have given them greater leeway and decision space in shaping their lives than the leaders in Pakistan who replaced them. Let me proceed to elucidate my argument a little. Let me start with Faiz Ahmed Faiz, one of the finest poets produced by the Indo-Pak subcontinent. He joined the British Indian Army and was attending to public relations dimensions. Quite impressed with his work, the British gave him a temporary rank of Lieutenant Colonel and awarded him an MBE a couple of years before Independence. Around that time, on the conclusion of the Second World War, the leaders of USSR, USA and Great Britain were redrawing the map of the world and delineating their spheres of influence globally. After departing from that summit conference, all the three leaders parted as friends inwardly knowing that this was the beginning of a major arms race and war, albeit a cold one and devoid of the traditional hostilities but manifested with more subtle nuances. Earlier the Russian revolution had shaken the Western world so much that in India alone hundreds of thousands of copies of the Holy Quran translated by Mohammad Marmaduke Pickthall were sent for the Muslims to infuse greater religiosity into them while the Hindus were provided their holy books almost free of cost. It was unquestionable that communism could exist in India. After Independence and the creation of Pakistan, knowing that Gandhi, Nehru and most of their political colleagues were socialist-minded, the attention soon turned to the newly created Muslim nation. In the aftermath of a long visit to the USA by Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, significant restrictions were placed on the Communist Party of Pakistan, founded by the British decorated poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz clandestinely with support from Sajjad Zaheer and J. A Rahim. While Zaheer was the son of Sir Wazir Hasan, the first Indian Chief Justice of the Oudh High Court, Rahim was a senior Indian Civil Service officer who had opted for the foreign service in Pakistan. The latter was the son of Sir Abdul Rahim who was President of the Legislative Assembly of India for nearly a decade. J. A. Rahim had secretly joined Faiz and Zaheer while serving as ambassador in several countries and remaining the Foreign Secretary. He would later substantially draft the framework of Z A Bhutto’s Pakistan People Party. After Independence and the creation of Pakistan, knowing that Gandhi, Nehru and most of their political colleagues were socialist-minded, the attention soon turned to the newly created Muslim nation. Meanwhile, within the Army, Gen. Douglas Gracey while handing over the charge of Commander in Chief to Gen. Ayub Khan warned him to be careful of some “Young Turks” like Major General Akbar Khan. Yet Ayub seems to have been caught napping when in less than two months of his taking over in January 1951, he was apprised by the Intelligence agencies of a plot to assassinate the prime minister and take over the government. This was later known as the Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case. Curiously the coup leaders were assisted by the communists. As it turned out, Akbar Khan had at some point served as head of the unit to which Faiz was assigned. The conspirators would discuss things as though they were already in power, and their hostess Begum Naseem Shahnawaz Akbar Khan was the grand-daughter of Sir Muhammad Shafi. Things came to a head when Akbar Khan’s cook went on leave and the IB planted its own man there who revealed everything to his bosses. Maj. Gen. Akbar Khan, Air Commodore M. K. Janjua, Maj. Gen. Nazir Ahmed, Brigadier Sadiq Khan, Brigadier M. A. Latif Khan, Lt. Col. Zia-ud-Din, Lt. Col. Niaz Muhammad Arbab, Captain Khizar Hayat, Maj. Hassan Khan, Major Ishaq Muhammad, Captain Zafarullah Poshni, Mrs. Naseem Shahnawaz Khan, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Syed Sajjad Zaheer and Muhammad Hussain Ata were put on trial. Despite a formidable Defense Attorney like (later Prime Minister) Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, most of the accused got hefty imprisonment terms while a few like Brig. Latif – the senior most officer from East Pakistan – were acquitted. He. However, resigned from service after his honorable release. In succeeding years some others were released, while during Suhrawardy’s tenure as prime minister, the case was pretty much wrapped up. It turned out that the conspirators were essentially irked by Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan’s inaction in Kashmir and his delaying constitution-making and the elections, and this was creating disappointment within the ranks of the Army. This was also told to my father by Col Ziauddin. He was to be Governor of Punjab after the takeover and happened to be Resident Representative of PIDC in Rawalpindi when my father was Chairman PIDC during the 1970s. Interestingly and ominously, the Prime Minister was himself assassinated around 7 months after the conspiracy was unearthed. Some of the elitists in the Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case may have had something to do with his elimination. However, it is said that when his widow Ra’ana was confronted with evidence of the high and mighty engaged in the act, she decided to cooperate with the powers that be in the larger interest of the nation. Let’s turn to the students’ community now. Tariq Ali (now a famous author) was grandson of Punjab governor and premier Sir Sikander Hayat Khan. He was a student activist and once the Director Intelligence Bureau told his parents Mazhar Ali Khan and his wife Tahira that he could not save him any longer if he remained in Pakistan. He was packed off to England for education. Tragically, another student more senior than Tariq Ali was Hassan Nasir, who having received admission in Cambridge University, was dissuaded by his father to proceed abroad and instead was sent to Aligarh. He was grandson of Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk, one of the founding fathers of Pakistan. On Independence, he migrated to Pakistan and was brutally killed at the age of 32 inside the Lahore Fort following incessant torture for two months. His dead body has yet to be found. When his body was supposedly exhumed, his mother who had come from the Deccan, castigated the authorities for not only killing her son but even depriving her of the right to bury him properly. The unidentified body was buried again. Going back a little, Governor General Ghulam Muhammad had dismissed the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan headed by Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan in 1953 and consequently the cabinet headed by Khwaja Nazimuddin as well. The actions were construed in East Pakistan as vindictive considering that two senior Bengali politicians of impeccable integrity had been dislodged. It was a semi-coup carried out in connivance with the Defense Secretary Iskander Mirza, Army Commander Gen. Ayub Khan and Chief Justice Munir of the Federal Court. Our Ambassador in Washington DC, Mohamed Ali Bogra was summoned to replace Nazimuddin as Prime Minister and one of the first decisions of his cabinet was to ban the Communist Party of Pakistan fully and finally in 1954. In a few years more, Gen Ayub would be telling US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and his brother Allen Dulles who headed the CIA that Pakistan feared a danger from the North (meaning China) more than the East (meaning India). When he stopped over in a European capital, the ambassador Begum Liaquat Ali Khan hammered into him the notion that Pakistan required a stable government for at least ten years to usher in some sustainable progress. As it turned out, Hassan Nasir was born on New Year’s Day in Hyderabad Deccan in 1928. There were reports that he was a communist activist even in his hometown in Telangana. After release from jail in the Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case, Sajjad Zaheer had returned to India and the officially defunct Communist Party fell into the hands of its Secretary General Hassan Nasir who was also associated with Suhrawardy’s National Awami Party. He fought for the rights of the students, peasants, and laborers. In 1958, Ayub assumed power in Pakistan through a coup spearheaded by President Mirza, who was sent into a life of exile in England, three weeks later. From his death cell in 1978, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had written: “Coup-gemony is the bridge over which foreign hegemony walks to stalk our lands.” Hassan Nasir understood his precarious position even 20 years earlier in 1958 and carried out his activities from beneath the surface now. However, in 1960, he was arrested in Karachi and then shifted to a cell in the Lahore Fort and brutally tortured incessantly for 2-3 months till he passed away on 13th November 1960. The provincial government headed by Governor West Pakistan, Nawab Amir Muhammad Khan of Kalabagh tried to depict the death as an act of suicide but was unable to even produce his body which must have so much evidence of their crime that they ostensibly destroyed it. Earlier in 1954, when a young lawyer Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim visited the central prison of Karachi to meet his client Z. A. Suleri, a rightist journalist held on sedition charges, the policemen told him that a group of students were not prepared to apologize even verbally and secure their release and he may try to convince them. The police mentioned that the Chief Commissioner A. T. Naqvi would send his men daily to their leader Hassan Nisar, but he always refused. Ebrahim, who was later Supreme Court judge and Governor of Sindh, mentioned decades later how he marveled on hearing that people preferred to remain in jail for the sake of their principles, when not even asked to apologize in writing but to do so verbally. However, by the time of the 1958 martial law, things had changed for the worse and the authorities were so seriously antagonized by the communist activities in the country that the entire police force of the country was looking for him. At the time of his assassination, he was only 32, although ten years ago he had acted as private secretary to three prime ministers of Hyderabad including Sir Mirza Ismail Hyderi, Nawab Chhatari and Mir Laiq Ali. In Pakistan, his convictions seem to have made him literally walk to his death. President Ayub Khan would soon make Pakistan the most allied ally of the United States and wanted to demonstrate how he had eliminated the last vestiges of communism from Pakistan. The Lahore Fort has witnessed the torture of political prisoners ever since Mughal Rule followed by British rule after the Mutiny and subsequently by several governments in Pakistan. The list of senior, patriotic and leading politicians and citizens tortured there is virtually endless there and no one emerged from there without permanent mental and physical scars. Despite the pronouncements of Prime Ministers Muhammad Khan Junejo and Benazir Bhutto that prisoners would no longer be tortured in the Lahore fort, it is believed that similar activities are carried out across the country in different settings. A word on the Rawalpindi conspirators would be in order here. Foreign Minister Bhutto interceded with President Ayub Khan to let Faiz Ahmed Faiz leave for the USSR, which bestowed on him the Lenin Peace Prize just as Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto awarded him the Nishan-i-Imtiaz posthumously. Gen Akbar Khan was made National Security Adviser by President Bhutto. Gen. Ziaul Haq, who was the most tyrannical ruler in the history of Pakistan, appointed Col. Niaz Ahmed Arbab as a cabinet minister. Col. Ziauddin got a good position in PIDC for a sustained period of time. Indian Prime Minister Nehru personally supervised Sajjad Zaheer’s nationality process in India on his return. Everything said and done, Hassan Nisar’s sacrifice will always remain a scar in Pakistan’s psyche with feelings of collective guilt. Regardless of anyone’s political views, downright tyranny, torture and extra-judicial murder does not behove a civilized nation specially in this time and age and evokes feelings of outrage from all and sundry. The United Nations’ General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the protection of all persons from being subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, on 9 December 1975, and has since spearheaded an effective struggle against such practices globally. The Government of Pakistan needs to take affirmative in this regard and move to end tyranny in all its forms across the country. The writer is a public health and public policy specialist of Pakistan.