Tufail Abbas: Tributes

Revolutionary Tribute to Comrade Tufail Abbas

Marxist Communist Party of India (United) MCPI(U) mourned the demise of Revolutionary leader of Pakistan Com. Tufail Abbas. Com. Abbas has dedicated his whole life for the cause of working class of Pakistan as well as the working class of the world.

Com. Tufail Abbas was one of the founders of the Communist Party in Pakistan and was at the same time member of various left organization. He was secretary of the workers union of Oriental airlines for many years. During the struggle for the rights of workers he had to face the wrath of the State Power and had to suffer jail several times.

Com. Abbas was a great writer also and published “Manshoor” in which his thought-provoking writings on Pakistan and Kashmir are still relevant and inspired many younger generations. His death is a great loss not only to Left Revolutionary movement in Pakistan but also to the whole of Indian subcontinent.

Com. Kuldip Singh
General Secretary,
Marxist Communist Party of India (United)

Tufail Abbas as I remember him

I came to know about Tufail Abbas through the journal Revolutionary Democracy. In 2003 I had an opportunity to visit him in Karachi. He was then the Chair of Pakistan Mazdoor Mahaz (Pakistan Workers Front) and the Chief Editor of the Urdu monthly Awa- mi Manshoor. He invited me to a lunch at his home and introduced me to several trade union leaders. There were several trade unions affiliated to PMM and I was given an opportunity to visit some of the factories to interact with unions and workers.

In a factory related to the manufacturing of electrical appliances, I discovered that hundreds of workers were well unionized to the extent that rules of dining and dietary requirements strictly adhered to the norms created in the interest of the workers. The price of lunch per head (rice, roti, meat, vegetables, and any two varieties of fruits) for a worker was fixed at Rs. 1 only. Everyone in the factory, including the highest managerial class, workers, and menial labourers shared the same food and the same dining hall. There was no class distinction in food and seat allocation. I also discovered that the concerned trade union had a well-organized system of generating income outside the factory, distribution of pension among retired workers, and investment in human resources to provide services amongst the union members. It was done by accumulating principal capital through an absolute appropriation from the government scheme of a one-time pension of the retiring workers. The system worked very well, as each of the pensioners was ensured a monthly return while at the same time qualified candidates were sent abroad for professional training such as doctors, lawyers, and so on. In all these Tufail Abbas had some role.

His influence spread far and wide across Pakistan. He was respected by trade union members, peasant leaders, and parties in Punjab (Pakistan). His legacy and leadership were not disputed by the leaders of Mazdoor Kissan Party in Pakistan. When he visited New Delhi in the late 2000s, his revolutionary internationalism was warmly appreciated by Revolutionary Democracy, New Trade Union Initiative, Committee on Human Rights (Manipur) and several other organizations and parties. In his demise in 2019, we lost a great leader who could have brought to a higher level the people’s democratic movement in Pakistan and beyond.

Malem Ningthouja


During our two visits to Karachi I had the good fortune of having a close interaction with Tufail sahib and his wife Naeema spread over four days. Also once when Tufail sahib, his wife, and their sister-in- law Shakira Zaki, visited Delhi, I had the opportunity of spending an evening with them. Tufail sahib was a towering personality, as also physically.

It has been my universal experience with just miniscule exceptions that most men involved in the left politics even those fighting revisionism are deeply patriarchal and Tufail sahib was no exception to it. However, what distinguished him from others was the fact was that he used his position as the patriarch of the extended family to involve everyone in his politics. Naeema Baji, who had been his colleague in the Pakistan International Airways, and had been presumably active in the PIA worker’s union, organized by Tufail sahib, later was bringing out the party journal, with Zakira, after the demise of Zaki Abbas, the younger brother of Tufail sahib.

I was also very struck by the fact that when in India, Tufail sahib was keen that his female companions, his wife and his sister-in-law, also attend the meetings he was to address. But that could not materialise. That way Tufail sahib was far ahead of his times and most of his comrades.

Tufail sahib worked with the PIA and true to the principle of doing political work in one’s workplace, he organized and unionised those working in the Pakistan’s official airline. He not only organised them but was also instrumental in leading them to struggles with success.

One particular aspect of Tufail sahib’s political life that I learnt was and was fascinated by was his support of Bhutto. Attempting to create space or a civil government vis a vis the army, Bhutto, knowing Tufail sahib’s mass base, sought is political support. And Tufail sahib did support him. While he continued to support and advise Bhutto he also continued his own political work. A contradiction was inherent in the situation. When Bhutto presumably became uncomfortable with his work, he decided to put him in jail and despite political pressure he was not amenable to releasing him. At some stage Bhutto began to shift him from one jail to another jail with the consequence that his family was unable to meet him and keep track of his whereabouts. Tufail sahib felt that Bhutto’s plan to was to eliminate him and his quick shiftings were a part of Bhutto’s plan to do that. However during one such transfer from one jail to another, one worker saw him being taken and Tufail sahib felt quite sure that with that worker having seen him, news would get across and Bhutto’s plan would be foiled.

I was very struck by this incident. It speaks volumes about the extent, depth, and the nature of his political work among the working people of Pakistan.

Tripta Wahi

Click here to return to the April 2020 index.