Propositioning Ideology
Fatima Rizvi
THE REST HOUSE: AHMED NADEEM QASIMI STORIES by Muhammad Umar Memon Katha Asia Library/Urdu, 2011, 507 pp., price not stated
April 2011, volume 35, No 4

The All India Progressive Writers Movement (AIPWM) has been one of most dominant, indigenous, 20th century countrywide movements taking in its sweep most writers of vernacular literature. Initiated in British India, it has the distinction of being the only literary movement aimed at propagating political, Marxist socialist principles. Within its purview, realistic literature became an extrovert activity; it assumed larger sociological proportions and provided a platform for the working masses that had hitherto remained unrepresented in literature. An active proponent of the Movement and proficient in most genres of Urdu literature, Qasimi espoused its cause in Pakistan. This radicalized Indian litterateur and the writer saw himself as a crusader. Using didacticism as an implement, he espoused the cause of the marginalized millions. From 1949 to 1954 he served as SecretaryGeneral of the Association.

He edited several prominent literary journals generally considered standardbearers of the PWM such as Imroz, Adab-i-Lateef, Savera, and Naqoosh and contributed weekly columns to national newspapers. Several restrictive measures including imposition of the Safety and Security Acts, arrests, bans and forced shutting down of offices, imposed by governments of Liaquat Ali Khan and General Ayub Khan in the early years on the Communist Party and associated organizations ensured absence of any literary or political activity. Qasimi and other activist writers and journalists were arrested several times. The Left organizations especially those associated with the PWM and Progressive Papers Ltd., were considered an ideological threat to national security. Strict control over the media ensured that the All Pakistan Progressive Writers Association (APPWA) never recovered. Nevertheless, ideas propagated by the Left and the progressive writers continued to resonate till after the Bhutto government took over in the 70s.

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