With the passing away of Mohammad Ali Shah we have lost a dear comrade, friend and an untiring fighter for human rights of the most marginalized section of Pakistani society. He was a veritable leader of over 5 Million people from the fishing community of Sindh and Balochistan. He was the founding Chairperson of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF). Formally founded in 1998, PFF has a membership of 100 000 with over 35% of women members.
Mohammad Ali Shah was leading the battles at multiple fronts. When during the dictatorship of Parvez Musharraf, the army forcefully took over the fishing trade of the interior lakes of Badin district in Sindh province, Shah led a series of demonstrations and mobilized public opinion thus forcing the army to withdraw from the fishing industry. When the national and provincial government’s neoliberal policies disregarded the licences of indigenous fishermen and instead auctioned the lakes on contracts to big landlords and business houses, the already impoverished fishing community was hit hard. This triggered huge mobilizations and protests all over Sindh led by the PFF. Under the leadership of Shah, PFF actively participated in progressive regional and international initiatives such as the Pakistan India Peoples Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD), World Forum of Fisher People (WFFP) and the World Social Forum (WSF). It played a key role in organizing the WSF held in 2006 in Karachi, Pakistan.
With the demise of Mohammad Ali Shah the fishing community of Pakistan has lost a great, caring and a fearless leader and fighter for their rights. We extend our sincere condolences to his entire family, his friends and the entire community.