A book containing articles and other write-ups written after the death of social activist Sabeen Mahmud titled Candle in the Wind — Remembering Sabeen Mahmud compiled and edited by Zulfiqar Halepoto was launched at T2F on Thursday.
Journalist Afia Salam, who moderated the programme, said the book was a worthy read. It carried “immediate impressions” penned in English, Urdu and Sindhi about Ms Mahmud after her death in 2015.
Mr Halepoto said he had been involved in activism for the past 20 years. During that period big events unfolded before his eyes — the killings of Benazir Bhutto, Akbar Bugti, Salmaan Taseer and Sabeen Mahmud. A lot was written on Benazir Bhutto’s murder, and the Sindhi press wrote a great deal about Taseer’s assassination. But in the context of civil society, the amount of articles, essays and impressions penned on the death of Ms Mahmud were diverse and in a big number. No other person had been written about as much, he said.
The second reason Mr Halepoto gave for working on the book was that he wanted to narrow the gap between Karachi and the rest of Sindh. “Karachi is a sensitive issue for Sindhis,” he remarked, adding he never passed up an opportunity to narrow that gap. Newspaper [articles] got lost with the passage of time, but books got compiled [to stay].
Mr Halepoto said T2F, the place that Ms Mahmud founded, wasn’t just there for organising events, rather it was a ‘space’, and that space had become a problem for those who killed her. The book was a small tribute to her and her work.
Mohammad Ali Talpur, who has written the foreword to the book, said Ms Mahmud gave voice to the Baloch issue. She was that rare non-Baloch who gave them a voice. She created a venue where humanity was worshipped, where the importance of humanity was projected. Her death had hurt him. He couldn’t write after her demise. The tears that he shed back then wouldn’t stop now. He was there when Ms Mahmud arranged the event after which she was killed.
Mr Talpur said the book carried pieces written by people belonging to a wide spectrum of society. They created a beautiful tapestry. The articles included in it were worth going through. With reference to T2F, he said it was still alive and kicking.
Rahma Mian said Ms Mahmud was an honest human being. People connected with her. She was an individual who did things truly from the heart. This was the reason she was able to impact different people. After reading the book, no one would be able to say that she was just an activist.
After the three main speakers’ views, the floor was opened for members of the audience to give their comments on the topic. Dr Yasmeen, whose piece is included in the book, said she attended the session after which Ms Mahmud was murdered. She hoped that her legacy would continue and people became more tolerant.
Prof Ajaz Qureshi said he had been coming to T2F since 2011. It’s a wonderful institution. The work undertaken by it made him feel proud. Ms Mahmud was a creative and courageous woman, he added.
Originally published in Dawn, October 27th, 2017