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A friend sent the above to me this earlier today. Oddly, the list reminded me of Hassan Nasir.


I know most don’t know him. He was once a beautiful Pakistani man, but died after beatings and torture by the Pakistani state during the decades of anti-Communist and anti-progressive pogroms that not only destroyed any hope of an egalitarian and democratic Pakistan, but also opened the door to religio-political shennanigans meant to distract the people from their hunger, their cold, and their slow deaths. Faiz Ahmed Faiz wrote of him. Our 22 boy-toys can’t quite live up to that achievement.

Who was he? You can read about him here:

As pointed out, the child of the rich chose not to play with the rich, or wallow in the tribial pursuits of entertainment and consumption, but instead, seeing the massive inequalities upon which the privileges if his class depended, he chose to change them.

“Hasan had fought, along with Makhdoom Mohiuddin and others, in the Telangana armed struggle. He was a maternal grandson of Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk. After the Partition of British India, he migrated to Pakistan and soon became, to the new ruling classes of the country, one of the most feared communists in Pakistan. Thus, despite being the scion of an aristocratic family of Hyderabad, Deccan, he had taken up the cause of the oppressed. e was sent by the CPI (Communist Party of India) as assistant to Sajjad Zaheer, who took over as the secretary general of the party in Pakistsn.”

We need a new list of 22 Pakistani men where the criteria of critical thought, moral courage, moral outrage, indifference to power, and an undying belief on a more equal, humane, and inclusive Pakistan remains. And that they are beautiful to look at. We need a list worthy of the struggles that Pakistan’s people are involved in every day – against their dispossession, against their marginalisation, against the erasure of their histories and dreams, against the denigration of their values and hopes. We need to pretty men to look at, but men (and women) who are beautiful because of their conscience, their sacrifices, their voices and their works. We need a perfect cocktail of critical engagement and public service.

22 beautiful men. All subsumed into the consumer marketplace, producers of playthings for the rich, and products of the class that never fails to spit down on the very people it lives off.

(My friend Ammar Belal is on this list. I suspect he isn’t the only one somewhat embarrassed to find himself on it. Had they checked his recently evolving political views, the editors may have reconsidered his inclusion. :)) )