Jawad Ahmad Khan's 'Rise for Pakistan'
By Dr Shahnaz Khan
Most people know Jawad Ahmad as a famous pop singer, song writer and musician. Many also may have heard of his other humanitarian efforts like his organization for education, Taleem For All, his efforts to build homes during the 2005 earthquake and 2010 floods as well as his services to anti-polio campaign. But very few, if any, know him as an activist and an intellectual. Since his student days, Jawad Ahmad, thought about the inequalities in this world, wondering why some people have everything while the majority lives in poverty. He used to ponder who set up this system, who perpetuates it, and how can one fight it.
These thoughts led him to establish 'Rise For Pakistan' (RFP). The core message of the organization is the belief in fundamental equality of all human beings regardless of race, religion, gender, nationality, or other such traits. RFP envisions a society free of class divide and all kinds of exploitative systems like tribalism, feudalism and capitalism.
He recently visited the USA and met with various groups and individuals in New York, New Jersey and Arizona in order to reach out to them and explain the vision and mission of the organization. He spoke to a small fund raising event arranged by Mr. Iftikhar Turab and Dr Akhtar Ehtisham, two board members of Rise For Pakistan, USA in Princeton, New Jersey. Dr Shahnaz Khan, chair of RFP USA also briefly addressed the audience. People responded enthusiastically to his speech and donated generously. He also answered questions from the audience and clarified some of the issues. Later that week, Jawad Ahmad, along with Dr Shahnaz Khan, Dr Ehtisham and Mr Iftikhar Turab, had a dinner meeting with some leading members of APPNA New York Chapter organized by Dr Javed Suleman at his residence. Almost everyone appreciated his passion and sincerity for this cause and promised support. We plan to reach out to as many people and groups in the US as well as other parts of the world as possible, to promote our message and develop alliances.
As Jawad explained to everyone he met, to achieve its mission, RFP is focusing on youth and workers, two segments of society, which have historically been the agents of change. The International Youth and Workers Movement (IYWM) has been set up to involve them in this initiative. Its goal is to inform, educate, organize and empower them to struggle collectively for this mission.
History tells us that any significant change in human society only comes about through the struggle of the masses and exploited segments of the society. Thus the civil rights movement was led by blacks, women’s voting rights movement was led by women, and workers’ rights were achieved only after generations of working men, women, and children struggled and fought for them collectively and consistently in an organized way.
He said that at Rise For Pakistan, we believe only the masses can change the current system in which over 50 percent of the people live in abject poverty; children grow up malnourished and stunted without any opportunity to attend school; women are abused at home, work place and public space; millions live in bondage; people die from lack of drinking water and mosquito bite. All this is in stark contrast with the lot of the ruling elite who live in luxurious palaces, spend hundreds of thousands on food, and fly to foreign countries for state of the art medical care. Their children, born with a silver spoon, attend elite schools and are sent abroad for education and training, are destined to rule the poor, wretched masses, generation after generation.
Jawad Ahmad is leading this effort to empower the masses. He is reaching out to the youth, workers, peasants, men and women in all fields, races, religion, gender and ethnicity. His voice has become the voice of the ‘have-nots’, the poor and the oppressed segments of society. He has spoken to large gatherings of workers, students, and peasants. People come to these gatherings, eager to listen to him and go back inspired and motivated.
He also explained that International Youth and Workers Movement plans to organize students and workers. It is a membership organization open to all who believe in its mission and goals. Student members are organized into units at institutional and city level. IYWM has presently units in 21 colleges in Lahore, besides Multan. A Karachi office recently opened. A Karachi committee has also been set up.
Efforts are underway to reach out to workers through trade unions and in their residential areas and organize them as units also. A major initiative in this direction is to encourage workers to become part of the existing unions or set up a union where there is none. Unions serve as platform for them to collectively fight for their rights. At this time only 3 per cent of workers belong to a union. This needs to be strengthened. Jawad Ahmad spoke about these initiatives at length in his meetings. He also explained many other ways through which the organization plans to reach out to public and its core constituents. These include songs, videos, short films, documentaries, large events in various cities of Pakistan addressing students and workers. Future plans include street theater, walk, rallies, writs, seminars and training workshops. All this depends on the available resources. He also talked about some very ambitious projects like setting up a research cell to focus on workers' issues and gathering of data, a think tank promoting equality and egalitarianism, and a TV station.
Rise for Pakistan is registered in the USA as a 501 (C) 3 organization with tax ID # 45-3061548. For more information, please visit www.riseforpakistan.org or www.iywm.org . You can also listen to his speeches at various events here: http://www.riseforpakistan.org/Video-Gallery.php?ETID=3 .
Like us on face book at https://www.facebook.com/INTERNATIONAL.YOUTH.AND.WORKSERS.MOVEMENT?ref=hl . You can email at email@example.com .
(Dr Shahnaz Khan is a practicing physician in the state of Florida. She is the founding member of Rise for Pakistan and chairs the organization in the USA)