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Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik: An Epoch-Making and Brilliant Labor Personality of the Trade Union Movement

My first introduction to Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik was in 1986 when he was representing the employees of Sindh in the Board of Trustees of the Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI). He’s an epoch-making, genius labor leader and an extremely kind personality, as well as a walking encyclopedia of the trade union movement in Pakistan. He greets everyone with extreme amiability and traditional compassion, and those who meet him once become devoted to you. Therefore, owing to his sympathetic nature, the foundations of one’s attachment to his personality get solidified. During this time, appreciating my writing and reporting skills, he very kindly and lovingly entrusted me with the responsibility of enhancing the monthly Al-Kasib published under the auspices of the National Labor Federation (NLF), which I happily accepted as an honor for myself. It was fortunate for me that I had the opportunity to serve the monthly magazine ‘Al-Kasib’ Karachi under the direct supervision of a valuable and knowledgeable personality like Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik for a considerable period of time. At that time, the central office of the National Labor Federation was located on the upper floor of Al-Ameena Plaza, M.A. Jinnah Road.


Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik, the founder, and editor-in-chief of the monthly Al-Kasib Karachi, is a veteran and erudite labor leader of the country as well as a profound scholar on various subjects due to which he is a highly important asset and like an institution himself of the trade union movement. He’s considered belonging to the few shining stars of the Trade Union Movement in the country. He advocates the Islamic model of industrial relations in the trade union movement, which emphasizes a balance between rights and duties to completely end the decades-long industrial disputes and conflicts between employers and employees in the country’s industrial, manufacturing, trading, and business institutions, and to find a sustainable solution to the longstanding issue between employers and employees. He experimentally implemented his unique Islamic model of industrial relations (which emphasizes duties first and rights second) at the Siemens Engineering Company Pakistan (Siemens Pakistan) site in Karachi, owing to which litigation between the company and union progressively declined to zero, leaving the German management astonished. They expressed a desire to personally meet the extraordinary personality who introduced this unique model, Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik.


Recently, we had a long session with our respected Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik, during which we had a detailed discussion with him about his vast and extraordinary services and visionary personality in the fields of education, trade union movement, politics, journalism, and writing spanning over seven decades, which is now being presented here to readers in the following section.


Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik was born on 20 August 1928 in a respected middle-class family, in the district of Tijara, State of Alwar, Rajputana (present-day Rajasthan). His respected father, Muhammad Ibrahim Khan, worked in the Revenue Department and also ran his own business. Although his respected mother was a housewife, she knew the folk poetry in the local language. He had four brothers and three sisters, and he is the eldest among them. His two younger brothers, Muhammad Asghar, and Muhammad Iqbal, passed away in childhood in pre-Partition India, while the other two younger brothers were Muhammad Anwar Ahmed Khan and Rafiq Ahmed Khan. Of them, the late Muhammad Anwar Ahmed Khan retired as Director from Allama Iqbal Open University, Hyderabad Region. The other brother, Muhammad Rafiq Ahmed Khan, retired as Principal of the Government High School Latifabad.


Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik acquired his early and intermediate education in the State of Alwar (undivided India). In early 1946, during the student years, due to his God-gifted abilities, he was also elected as the President of the Muslim Students Federation, Tijara, but his education was temporarily disrupted in August 1947 owing to the Partition of India.


During the riots that broke out during the Partition of India, in August 1947, under the command of his father, he migrated to Pakistan with his family members. His family first stayed in Karachi for six months and then settled in Choti Ghiti, Hyderabad.


Although he had acquired his early and intermediate education in the State of Alwar itself, it was disrupted due to the Partition of India. Therefore, after settling down in the new homeland, Pakistan, following migration, he restarted his educational journey, as a result of which he passed his B.A. exam from the Government College Hyderabad with distinction. Subsequently, in 1954, he acquired a Master’s degree in Economics from Sindh University. He had also enrolled for an M.A. in English but had to leave it incomplete due to some reasons.


The situation after migrating from India was extremely destitute and there was an immediate need for a suitable source of income for a respectable maintenance of the family. Therefore, he started his practical life as an Accounts Clerk at the famous British oil company, Pakistan Burmah Shell (PBS) in Karachi. After that, he worked in the Carriage and Works Department (C&W) of the Railways Department in Hyderabad, and then for 6 months in the Public Works Department (PWD) in Hirabad, Hyderabad. Subsequently, keeping in view his educational capabilities and passion for teaching, he decided to get involved in education and took up the profession of teaching at the Jamia Arabia School, Tilak Charri, Hyderabad. From 1954 to 1958, he also rendered teaching services at the Memon Anjuman High School, Hyderabad.


In the early years of his student life, Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik became associated with the popular student organization Islami Jamiat Talaba. He has the honor of being the first Nazim of Hyderabad city. Subsequently, keeping in view his effective organizational abilities and oratory skills, he was appointed as the Nazim of Sindh and Balochistan provinces, a responsibility he admirably discharged from 1951 to 1956.


After completing higher education in Economics, from 1960 to 1965, he worked as the Principal and Professor of Economics at the S.M. Arts College Tando Allahyar. Similarly, he laid the foundation of Ghazali Degree College, a prestigious educational institution, in Hyderabad city to promote high and quality education, which was inaugurated on September 5, 1965, by the country’s eminent legal expert, A.K. Brohi. He served as the Principal of this prestigious educational institution from 1965 to 1970. During this time, he also established a boys’ hostel to provide suitable residential facilities for students from far-flung cities. Likewise, he was also instrumental in establishing the famous educational institution Allama Iqbal High School for secondary education in Hyderabad. By the grace of Allah, the Ghazali College was nationalized by the government in 1972. After years of its establishment, Ghazali College, set up by Professor Shafi’s tremendous efforts, has now attained the status of Government Ghazali Degree College and Post Graduate Centre. His contemporaries in Hyderabad include renowned bureaucrats Dr. Ishrat Hussain and Dr. Anwar Ahmed Siddiqui, former Vice Chancellor of Islamabad University.

In 1956, Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik had two options before him: to continue in the field of education or to join the trade union movement. So he sacrificed his excellent teaching career in Hyderabad and chose to provide moral, intellectual, and ideological guidance to millions of the weakest people belonging to the working class of the country. Consequently, he permanently joined the labor movement in 1956. He writes in his autobiography “Travelogue of Islamic Labor Movement” (اسلامی مزدور تحریک کی سفر کہانی):


“In the field of labor, the city of Hyderabad was my first workplace, and the Zeal Pak Cement Factory in Hyderabad was the first trade union project. The Zeal Pak Cement Factory was a large cement plant established through the collaboration of Pakistan and New Zealand and under the Pakistan Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC). It initiated production operations in 1956.”

So immediately after joining the labor movement, in 1956, Professor Malik laid the foundation of a trade union named Cement Labour Association at the Zeal Pak Cement Factory Hyderabad and was elected as its first General Secretary. Later in 1957, this union attained the status of a Collective Bargaining Agent (CBA). After getting the CBA status, a referendum was also held at the Zeal Pak Cement Factory in which he achieved a record victory with 98 percent of the votes. As a result of this extraordinary success, he was elected President of the Zeal Pak Cement Factory Union while the popular Ahmed was the General Secretary. The Executive Council of this union comprised 12 members.


Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik says that after the Zeal Pak Cement Factory Union attained the CBA status in 1957, he had requested the then Ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami, Maulana Syed Abul A’la Maududi to participate as a special guest at the oath-taking ceremony of the elected CBA office-bearers and administer oath to the elected office-bearers, which Maulana graciously accepted and specially visited Hyderabad to attend this ceremony. This ceremony was held in the canteen of the Zeal Pak Cement Factory, which was also attended by Mr. P.S. Pedersen, the New Zealand origin General Manager of the factory. Therefore, on this occasion, Maulana Maududi had addressed in English.


At that time, political turmoil was at its peak in the country and general elections were going to be held under the 1956 interim constitution, for which a date in February 1959 had already been set. Therefore, keeping in view Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik’s extraordinary services in civic, political, and trade union fields, he was nominated by Jamaat-e-Islami for a National Assembly seat. However, while the election campaign was at its height, General Muhammad Ayub Khan imposed martial law in the country in October 1958 after dismissing the government, as a result of which all political activities in the country came to a sudden halt. After the imposition and strict ban on political activities under martial law, Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik’s complete focus shifted towards the trade union movement. However, the martial law regime was strongly averse to trade union activities as well along with political activities in the country. In particular, it did not like at all Jamaat-e-Islami’s involvement in the labor movement. Soon afterward, on the instructions of Maulana Abul A’la Maududi, Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik received an invitation from Professor Abdul Ghaffoor Ahmed, an important leader of Jamaat-e-Islami Karachi, to relocate from Hyderabad to Karachi and work vigorously for the trade union movement there. At that time, Professor Malik was serving as Principal of Ghazali Degree College Hyderabad. Consequently, sacrificing his illustrious teaching career, he relocated to Karachi accepting that invitation.

During the dark era of military rule, raising a voice for the rights of the working class was considered a serious crime. Therefore, Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik also had to go through the grueling phases of trials and tribulations during Ayub’s dictatorial rule. Recalling this incident, he says: “It was probably around May/June 1959, just 10 days before Eid-ul-Azha. After offering Zuhr prayer, I had finished lunch when someone knocked at my house door. At that time, my residence was in Advani Street adjoining Shahi Bazaar. It turned out that two plainclothes policemen from the City Police Station had brought an arrest warrant for me, while the reason for the arrest was my press statement regarding issues of the workers of Fateh Textile Mills. Consequently, the next day I was imprisoned in Hyderabad Jail wearing handcuffs. Along with me, the editor and reporter of the concerned newspaper were also jailed in this case. The next day we received the news that our case would be tried in a special military court on charges of mutiny. During this time, the prominent lawyer Muhammad Ahmed Memon vigorously took up our defense. After spending a week in jail, we were presented in heavy shackles before the military court, where after a brief hearing our case was referred to the Summary Military Court. On the first hearing of the case in the Summary Military Court, our lawyer Muhammad Ahmed Memon professionally presented his arguments, but during that time I decided to plead my own case at the next hearing and informed Jamaat-e-Islami’s Ameer about my decision. At my next hearing before the military court, presenting my arguments I stated:


“I believe that the martial law court must be fully aware that the workers of Fateth Textile Mills have some legitimate complaints and issues with the factory management. The Labour Federation of Pakistan, of which I am the Senior Vice President, has been continuously directing the factory management through the Director of Labour to resolve these complaints, but the factory management has still not paid any attention to resolving the genuine issues of the workers. The fact is that the Director of Labour is currently out of the country for training and we have no direct access to the factory management. Had the Director of Labour not gone abroad for training, there would have been no need for us to issue a press statement about this matter. Fateth Textile Mills management enjoys the full support of the district administration, so they don’t care about any officer from the Labor Department. Therefore, our view is that our press statement has shed light on the plight of the hardworking laborers at the factory, so they may realize that there are some sympathetic people concerned about resolving their legitimate issues and they don’t need to take law into their own hands.”

However, the emphasis of the complaint in this case was on the part of the press statement which stated that “if the management of Fateth Textile Mills does not make efforts to resolve the workers’ issues, the responsibility of the consequences will lie with the factory management!”


So after hearing Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik’s arguments, the military court imposed a fine of Rs. 200 and ordered his release. After the court’s decision, a large number of workers from Zeal Pak Cement, Indus Glass Factory, and Fateth Textile Mills welcomed him with garlands outside the court. This was the first arrest during the martial law period in the history of Hyderabad, and finally, with dignity, Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik was released. After the unpleasant incident at Fateth Textile Mills and release from the Summary Military Court, Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik moved to Lahore. However, in May 1960, he received an interesting letter from the Martial Law Administration Hyderabad which stated in English:


“You are hereby summoned to collect an amount of Rs. 200 from the Office of Summary Military Court Hyderabad. The punishment awarded to you has been quashed.”


The then government did not like Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik’s active involvement in the labor movement in Hyderabad and his efforts to engage the workers and citizens of Hyderabad in local politics for the resolution of their various problems, despite his relocation to Lahore. Therefore, the government started creating hurdles in his mission and getting him and his associate Yawar Hussain falsely implicated under the notorious Goonda Act by the order of the District Magistrate Hyderabad. When Professor Malik went to meet Maulana Maududi carrying the notice from the District Magistrate Hyderabad, Maulana jokingly said aloud: “Oh Brother Malik Ghulam Ali! Look, two goondas have entered my room, please stop them.” On this occasion, this lighthearted joke by Maulana Maududi considerably reduced the mental stress of the two respected persons who were suffering from severe anxiety. Thus, as punishment for raising voice for people’s rights, Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik had to face false cases and imprisonment by the government several times, including under the notorious Goonda Act.

During a period of ideological conflict within the trade union movement in the country, on November 9, 1969, with the purpose of organizing and consolidating millions of workers of the country on a single ideological platform, Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik laid the foundation of a nationwide labor organization called National Labour Federation (NLF). Its first general session was held on November 9, 1969, at its central office located at 250, Alnoor Chambers, Preedy Street, Karachi. Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik says that the Federation’s constitution was adopted and its first office-bearers were elected in the general session. He himself was entrusted with the responsibility of the President, while Shabeer Hussain was the General Secretary and Majid Jalani the Senior Vice President. The entire team of the National Labour Federation comprised highly competent, talented, and selfless colleagues, due to which in the coming times National Labour Federation established its labor unions in large industrial and manufacturing organizations across various cities of the country and vigorously struggled for the rights of millions of workers and provided exemplary representation to those workers. By the grace of God, with the passage of time, the National Labour Federation has now become a shade tree for millions of workers in the country’s industrial and artisanal sector. Recently, after a detailed review of the membership of all labor federations of the country, the National Industrial Relations Commission (NIRC), Islamabad has declared the National Labour Federation as the largest labor federation in terms of workers’ membership and number of affiliated trade unions, which is a prominent honor for the founder of this nationwide federation Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik and for National Labour Federation.

Permanent migration from Hyderabad to Karachi:

Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik permanently relocated from Hyderabad to Karachi in January 1970. Initially, he resided in rented accommodations at Nazimabad No.2 and then Block ‘H’ North Nazimabad, and subsequently in order to make Karachi his permanent residence, he sold his beautiful two-story house in Latifabad, Hyderabad, and 25 acres of ancestral agricultural land, constructed his own house in Block ‘L’ North Nazimabad Karachi, and permanently settled in Karachi.

Launching Monthly Al-Kasib Karachi:

Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik has always had a deep interest in providing moral, intellectual, and ideological guidance to the country’s working class and labor leaders for positive trade union activities. Therefore, putting this idea and theory into practice in 1986, he launched a monthly newspaper ‘Al-Kasib’ from Karachi. Monthly Al-Kasib can be called Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik’s brainchild. ‘Al-Kasib’ is the sole spokesman of the Islamic labor movement in the country. At one time, the Government of Pakistan also used to publish a regular journal ‘Labour Gazette’ for the country’s working class. Similarly, the ‘Industrial Relations Journal’ was also published under the auspices of the country’s largest employers’ association, the Employers Federation of Pakistan. But it has been quite some time since the publication of both these newspapers has stopped. Now only ‘Al-Kasib’ related to the labor sector remains, which is diligently working to nourish the labor movement in the country and elucidate the Islamic model of industrial relations. For the news reports, articles, and news published in every issue, he not only selects quality and informative material under his personal supervision but also pens new informative articles and features on various topics with utmost diligence and hard work.


Despite its limited resources and various administrative and financial constraints, Monthly Al-Kasib Karachi has been regularly published for the last 37 years. Whereas due to the severe economic crisis in the country, worst inflation, and exorbitant rise in the value of money, the prices of paper and other printing materials are rising daily which has resulted in a substantial increase in printing and distribution costs, forcing a large number of newspapers and periodicals to close down rapidly. However, owing to his personal interest and passion, Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik has kept the publication of Monthly Al-Kasib Karachi alive and vibrant till today. In view of this situation, it is imperative for the federal and provincial government and autonomous bodies related to the labor sector in the country including the Workers Welfare Fund (WWF), Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI), and Sindh Employees’ Social Security Institution (SESSI), Labor & Human Resources Departments of all four provinces, countrywide organization of industrialists Employers Federation of Pakistan (EFP) and major industrial, commercial and business institutions to fully support and cooperate with Monthly Al-Kasib Karachi to sustain its publication as a mouthpiece of employers and workers.


Monthly Al-Kasib Karachi provides invaluable ideological services in the context of the Labour subject in the country, in terms of promoting Islamic teachings, jurisprudence, hadiths, patriotism, Quaid-e-Azam’s guiding principles, Iqbal’s philosophy, economics, labor movement activities in Pakistan and around the world, growth of trade unions and collective bargaining, besides raising awareness about labor laws as well as growth and promotion of the Islamic labor movement. Mr. Ghulam Rabbani has been diligently assisting Editor-in-Chief Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik for a long time as Deputy Editor of this newspaper in its preparation and timely publication, as well as in making it better and better. The Board of Trustees of Pakistan Workers Training and Education Trust in its recent meeting decided to publish Monthly Al-Kasib Karachi with new vigor on a monthly basis starting from January 2023, as a result of which this journal is now being published on a monthly basis. Monthly Al-Kasib Karachi is regularly dispatched to all relevant federal institutions of the labor sector, provincial labor departments, International Labour Organization (ILO) Pakistan, Islamabad, Employers Federation of Pakistan (EFP), Labour & Human Resources Departments of all four provinces, central and all regional offices of National Labour Federation (NLF), various labor federations, trade union activists besides personalities from academia, lawyers, and industrialists.


Nominations for National Assembly and honor of Senate membership:

During his active participation in the political arena, Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik was nominated at least three times for a National Assembly seat in general elections. The first time was in 1959 when general elections were postponed after the imposition of martial law in the country. The second time was in 1979, when once again the military government had postponed the general elections, and then in 1985, when he successfully secured the second position from Karachi constituency NA-205. Therefore, in recognition of his invaluable and extraordinary services in the labor movement, the then President General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq nominated him as a member of the Senate at the time of its formation. Consequently, he admirably rendered his services as an active member of the Senate from 1982 to 1985. In view of his vast teaching experience, immense and invaluable services for the country’s trade union movement, and intellectual and administrative abilities, President General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq had a longstanding desire that he should take over the portfolio of Federal Minister of Labour and Manpower, but he politely declined to accept this position due to certain reasons. He also rendered prominent services for a long time as the representative of Sindh employees in two national institutions established for the welfare of the working class, the Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) Board of Trustees and Workers Welfare Fund (WWF).


Establishment of Pakistan Workers Training and Education Trust (We Trust):

Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik has devoted his entire life to the pursuit of knowledge, teaching, promotion of the trade union movement, and every possible welfare of the working class. Therefore, he says that leaders of every labor movement and workers necessarily need comprehensive trade union training and education. Hence, considering the lack of necessary training and education among the country’s working class, with the full cooperation of his colleagues, on October 17, 1983, Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik laid the foundation of Pakistan Workers Training and Education Trust (We Trust) Pakistan, which is a major and unique training and educational institution of its kind for labor leaders and workers in Pakistan.


The 17-member Board of Trustees of We Trust comprises renowned, experienced, and upright personalities from various spheres of society, who perform the duty of consultation, assistance, guidance, and oversight for holding various training and educational activities organized by We Trust. The office-bearers include Rana Mahmood Ali Khan Vice Chairman, Muhammad Salman Ashraf Vice Chairman, Dr. Fouad Ahmed Secretary, Zia-ul-Haq Gilani Finance Secretary, and Chaudhry Ahmed Khan, Burjis Ahmed, Riyaz Aalam, Zahid Askari, Ata Muhammad Tabassum, Naseem Ahmed, Nauman Patel, Kashef Abdul Rahman, Mughees Siddiqi, Syed Muhammad Farhan, Fida Muhammad Khan, and Muhammad Fahim Siddiqi. Under the auspices of We Trust, training and educational courses, workshops, seminars, symposia, and other important events are held from time to time for labor leaders and workers. The We Trust Complex, Gulshan-e-Iqbal Karachi, has a vast reference library comprising various topics and rare books, reflecting Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik’s profound interest and personal passion for study, research, and writing. It also has a spacious air-conditioned “Abdul Majeed Zia Seminar Hall” with audiovisual facilities and a seating capacity of 120, where various trade union, educational, literary, and social organizations and institutions of the city hold their functions free of charge.


Holding countrywide conferences and international seminars under the auspices of National Labour Federation:

As the leader of the country’s labor movement, Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik has established personal relations with important leaders of labor movements especially from Islamic countries around the world. He says that as a result of our efforts, labour movements of Muslim countries and their leadership came very close and opportunities arose enabling us to play an active and leading role in a true international labour movement. For this purpose, under the visionary leadership of Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik, the National Labour Federation started the process of holding seminars at national and international levels including “Concept of Social Security in Islam” held at Karachi in 1991, “Islam and Labour Movement” held at Karachi in 1992, “System of Industrial Relations in Islam” held at Islamabad in 1993, “Islamic Standards of Labour and International Labour Standards” held at Lahore in 1994, “Globalization and Our Responsibilities” held at Karachi in 1998, and “World Economic Order and Developing Countries” held at Islamabad in 1999. Proceedings of the first three aforementioned seminars have already been published in 1994 in the form of a book “Islamic Model of Industrial Relations”.


In addition to representatives from the International Labour Organization (ILO) Geneva and the Employers Federation of Pakistan (EFP), these seminars were largely attended by President International Islamic Confederation of Labour (IICL) Jamal al-Banna, renowned religious scholar Mufti Rafi Usmani, Jamaat-e-Islami Naib Ameer Chaudhry Rahmat Ali, Professor Sabahuddin Zaim from Istanbul University, eminent intellectual Professor Karim Bukhsh Nizamani, central leader of the employers’ fraternity Ashraf W. Tabani, former Vice Chancellor University of Karachi Dr. Munzoor Ahmed, Dr. Abdul Wahab from IBA Karachi as well as selected representatives of trade union movements, intellectuals, journalists, government officials, labour leaders and workers from Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Bangladesh, and Malaysia. To understand holding this series of seminars, it is essential to be aware of its background. Since its inception so far, our struggle was focused on preventing the onslaught of collectivist ideology in the labour movement, but after the disintegration of the Soviet collectivist empire in 1990, spread of collectivist ideology in the labor movement actually stopped, because the entire onslaught on the labour movement was only due to heavy capital and diplomatic patronage of Soviet Union. As a result of the demise of this collectivist empire, now our entire focus shifted to training and education of our own trade union leadership. Obviously, a good training institute at a proper place was imperative for this purpose. Therefore, since 1991 we started holding a series of educational and training seminars at the international level for the trade union movement, so that not only in Pakistan but also abroad, we could continue our ideological work in a better and more effective manner.

Tours to foreign countries:

Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik has spent an eventful life as a serious and dynamic leader in the trade union movement. For this purpose, he has also undertaken study tours of various foreign countries and participated in various conferences as an active labor leader. His international contacts began in 1978. In May 1980, he received two invitations from abroad, the first being from the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Geneva to participate in the annual conference held in Geneva, Switzerland, and the second to the conference of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) held in Prague, Czechoslovakia. He attended the ILO’s annual conference in Geneva and the conference held in Prague was represented by labor leader Abbas Bawazir of the National Labor Federation. In 1979 he participated in conferences in Egypt and Yugoslavia, in 1980 in Baghdad, a study tour of Japan in 1982, a tour of Iran in 1988, participated in the Dhaka conference in 1991 and in addition to Geneva (Switzerland) in 1991, study tours of Soviet Russia, Philippines, Bangkok (Thailand) and Turkey are worth mentioning.

Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik undertook his last foreign tour to Bangladesh in 1998 when he was invited by the “Bangladesh Saramak Kalyan Federation” from Dhaka to participate in the International Labor Conference. Eminent labor leaders and dignitaries from Turkey and other Islamic countries had also participated in this conference. The special thing about this tour was that the delegates of all organizations had met with Professor Ghulam Azam, the central leader of Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh. It was an extremely memorable meeting. During the meeting, Professor Ghulam Azam expressed his impressions and said that he was extremely happy to know that the leaders of labor organizations from four to five Muslim countries not only participate jointly in international labor conferences but also have good knowledge about each other’s goals, plans and services and performance of organizations in the trade union movement. He had expressed the hope that in the near future, the International Islamic Confederation of Labor (IICL) would emerge as an international movement.

Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik: An expert institution builder and organizer

Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik, by virtue of his God-given and extraordinary administrative and organizational abilities, has proven himself to be an expert institution builder, organizer, and leader. During his 70-year-long struggle for the rights of the country’s working class and in the trade union movement, he established countless trade unions and nationwide federations in major industrial and business institutions of Hyderabad and Karachi. He also provided them with robust intellectual, ideological, and legal guidance. His journey in the trade union movement had started in 1956 with the establishment of a union in Zealpak Cement Factory Hyderabad and thereafter this long journey expanded to Zealpak Cement, Indus Glass Factory, Fateh Textile Mills, Sliver Cotton Mills, Wazir Ali Industries and Telegraph Office in Hyderabad and Karachi.


He also established unions like ‘PIAC’ in Pakistan International Airlines, ‘Paslow’ in Pakistan Steel Mills, ‘Prem Union’ in Pakistan Railways, WAPDA, Atlas Honda, and Atlas Battery in major industrial, business, and service institutions. This helped restore the rights and improve the welfare of millions of workers associated with them. Consequently, the rights of millions of employees and workers serving in these institutions were protected. They got respectful employment, fair wages, and basic facilities according to labor laws.

Establishment of prestigious educational and training institutions for higher education by Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik:

It has been the hallmark of Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik, as an eminent education and training expert, to establish standard educational and training institutions for promoting education and training among the youth. Important educational and training institutions established by him include Ghazali College Hyderabad, Allama Iqbal High School Hyderabad, and Pakistan Workers Training and Education Trust (We Trust) in Karachi. Thanks to his revolutionary initiatives in the fields of education and training, hundreds of deserving students and knowledge-seekers got valuable opportunities for education and training.

Representation of Pakistani workers at the International Labour Organization (ILO) Geneva:

Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik has the honor of having vigorously represented Pakistan’s workers from 1978 to 1991 in various annual sessions of the International Labour Organization (ILO), a subsidiary body of the United Nations. During the country’s representation in these annual sessions, he also conveyed the message of the Islamic model of the trade union movement to the chosen representatives of the labor movement from all over the world.

Large-scale grooming of personalities for the trade union movement:

As an important leader of the trade union movement in the country, Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik gifted the country’s trade union movement with such rare, competent personalities whose extraordinary administrative abilities, selfless services, and sacrifices in the trade union movement are unmatched. These prominent personalities include Shabbir Hussain, Hafiz Muhammad Iqbal, Syed Khurshid Ali, Abbas Bawazir, Zahid Askari, Pasha Ahmad Gul (Martyr), Miraj-ud-Din Khan, Hafiz Salman Butt, Rafiq Ahmed, Rana Mahmood Ali Khan, Zain-ul-Abideen, Sikandar Hayat Khan, Abdul Majeed Zia, Malik Mehr Ban, Ayub Awan, Aslam Chohan, Ishtiaq Ahmed Asi, Salim Shahzad Ansari, Abdur Rehman Mirdad Kheil, Shams-ur-Rehman Swati, Shaheed Ayub Khan and Mian Tajmul Hussain among countless others. Under the dynamic leadership and guidance of Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik, they not only promoted the trade union movement in major industrial, manufacturing, business, and service institutions across the country but also rendered invaluable services and sacrifices for safeguarding the fundamental rights of millions of workers therein.

Establishment of Workers and Employers Bilateral Council Pakistan (WEBCOP):

At the beginning of the 20th century, some representatives of positive and constructive thinking employers and employees belonging to Karachi came up with a new initiative in the labor movement and industrial relations sectors to end the longstanding conflict over rights and responsibilities between employers and employees across the country. Its fundamental purpose was to promote the concept of mutual consultation and understanding between workers and employers by introducing the notion of social dialogue at the industry and manufacturing levels across the country.


Hence, to bring together representatives of employers and employees on a common platform and maintain a harmonious environment for sustainable industrial relations in the country’s industrial sector, as well as to resolve emerging issues through mutual consultation, the Workers and Employers Bilateral Council of Pakistan (WEBCOP) was formed on January 12, 2000. Eminent employer leader and renowned industrialist Ehsanullah Khan was made Chairman, respected lady Mrs. Kaneez Fatima as Vice Chairperson, Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik as Secretary General, and U.R. Usmani of Singer Company as Joint Secretary of this organization. Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik’s name for this position was proposed by renowned labor leader Nabi Ahmed. This council remained very actively in service for a long time, but later gradually faded out due to various reasons.


Literature and books compiled by Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik for the trade union movement:

Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik is an avid reader, intellectual, and visionary who has a deep interest in reading and writing on topics related to the labor sector, trade unions, Islamic labor movement, and economics. Research in economics and labor laws has been his specific area of interest. He is the only labour leader in the country who has not only produced extensive literature in the field of trade unions but has also authored several books based on his extensive reading and intellectual prowess, including his autobiography “History of Islamic Labor Movement” (اسلامی مزدور تحریک کی سفر کہانی) and other notable books: “Labour Movement in Pakistan, An Ideological Study, 1963”, “National Charter of Pakistani Workers”, “Labour Policy in Pakistan”, “Yom-e-Khandaq … A Message, A Movement”, “Labour Movement, Industrial Relations and Islamic Social Justice (in Syed Maududi’s perspective)”, “Imperishable Personality of Labour Movement – Pasha Ahmed Gul”, “Freedom of Association in Pakistan and History, Present and Future of Collective Bargaining”, “Nigah Buland, Sukhan Dilnawaz, Jaan Pursuz” – Zainulabideen”, “Shabeer Hussain – Unarmed Warrior of Islamic Labour Movement”, “Islamic Model of Industrial Relations – Sermon of Prophet of Mercy (PBUH)”, “Report National Labour Federation (NLF) Golden Jubilee”, “National Labour Policy”.


Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik is tremendously influenced by the great personalities and thoughts of Poet of the East, Thinker of Pakistan, Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, and founder and leader of Jamaat-e-Islami Maulana Syed Abul A’la Maududi, and frequently draws guidance from their philosophy and thoughts for organizing his practical life and the trade union movement. He knows many important paragraphs from several books by Maulana Abul A’la Maududi by heart and often quotes them in conversations with friends. Likewise, he has always endeavored to elucidate Iqbal’s philosophy at the grassroots level in society, especially among the working class. For this purpose, due to his personal interest, ‘We Trust’ regularly holds special events at its “Abdul Majeed Zia Seminar Hall”, Gulshan-e-Iqbal Karachi, on Iqbal Day. In this regard, on March 23, 2018, We Trust organized a grand Iqbal Assembly on “System of Governance in Islam, in Allama Iqbal’s perspective” in which renowned philosopher, researcher, professor and Iqbal expert Mr. Ahmad Javed, former Director Iqbal Academy Lahore, delivered an enlightening speech elaborating Allama Iqbal’s famous couplet

Jin ki hukoomat se hai faash yeh ramz-e-gareeb, Saltanat-e-ahl-e-dil faqr hai shahi nahin

(Their reign gave the world an unfamiliar concept;
That the authority of the brave and spirited lay in modesty and simplicity, rather than pomp and regality.)

explaining the system of governance in Islam. A large number of individuals with a deep interest in Allama Iqbal’s personality and his poetry as well as workers participated in this memorable event. We Trust is also planning to organize an elegant event to hold the Iqbal Assembly this year.


Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik says that he has been profoundly influenced by two of his teachers during his student days. One was the Spanish principal of Government College Phulleli, Hyderabad and Professor of History, Adrina Duart, and the other was Professor of English at Sindh University, Jaliluddin Ahmed Khan, who graduated from Aligarh Muslim University. Both these honourable teachers were ideal, highly educated, and compassionate personalities for their students.


Personal Life: Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik got married in 1957. Allah Almighty blessed him with a son and three daughters. By the grace of God, all four of his children are married; his son Zubair Ahmed was engaged in business in the US for some time as well as actively associated with Tehreek-e-Islami, and has now returned to the homeland. Whereas two of his daughters live in the US and one resides in Pakistan. He’s the head of a fully flourishing family and by the grace of God all of his family members are actively associated with Tehreek-e-Islami. Professor Shafi Malik performed Hajj in 1985 and has performed Umrah several times.


Praise be to Allah! Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik is now 95 years old. Although his health and strength have declined with advancing age, his passion for service and guidance for the welfare of the country’s working class and commitment to his responsibilities as the head of ‘We Trust’ is still as vibrant and dynamic as day one. Despite old age and ill health, instead of leading a comfortable life at home, not only does he regularly visit the ‘We Trust’ office but also meticulously oversees its daily administrative and financial matters as well as selects material with utmost diligence for articles and news to be published in the Monthly Al-Kasib Karachi. No matter what the circumstances, ensuring the timely publication of Monthly Al-Kasib Karachi and its prompt delivery to all institutions, organizations, and individuals is his top priority. Unlike other senior personalities, Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik regularly uses a smartphone, which allows him to stay fully updated about current affairs, news, and events in the dear homeland as well as remain in constant contact with important personalities and dignitaries from various spheres including the trade union movement.


During his long life of 95 years, Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik has witnessed a changing world, including the era from Tehreek-e-Pakistan to creation of the free homeland, the golden period of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan, and leader of the nation Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan, the power tussle by the aristocracy in the country, political conflict between the military and politicians, and closely observed all phases of military rule as well as democracy. He is deeply concerned about the current worst economic situation and inflation in the country, which has led to extremely difficult working conditions and the plight of the common man, especially the weakest strata of society – the working class.


Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik is not satisfied with the current role and performance of the trade union movement in the country. He says that previously, along with announcing the Labour Policy every five years, the Government of Pakistan under the Ministry of Labour and Manpower also used to hold countrywide conferences comprising representatives of the government, employers, and workers, in which recommendations were presented to the government after deliberating on the establishment of peaceful and lasting industrial relations in the country’s industrial sector, wage policy, workers’ welfare, expansion of employment opportunities for workers and professional training of workers. But unfortunately, after the 18th Constitutional Amendment in April 2010, the most important sector of Labour was devolved to the provinces by the federation, which has divided the working class as well. As a result, now there is no caretaker of the fundamental rights of workers in the country and the working conditions of the working class are deteriorating with each passing day. In most industrial, manufacturing, business, and other institutions across the country, working hours, payment of wages, guaranteed decent employment, and basic rights of workers rendering services are being violated on a large scale, but the country’s labour federations and trade union leaders have no coherent strategy and plan of action to address these serious issues faced by millions of workers. Instead of operating in a professional manner, trade unions in industrial and manufacturing organizations are being run as a reaction to the employers, resulting in widespread mistrust, litigation, and an uncertain environment between employers and employees in the country’s industries, which is having extremely negative effects on the country’s productivity and progress. To address this disturbing situation and establish peaceful and lasting industrial relations in the country, Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik has emphasized the urgent need to hold a social dialogue between the two sides to determine the “rights and duties” of both parties. He said that to achieve this goal, the Employers Federation of Pakistan (EFP) and other employers’ organizations will have to proactively play their role as a major party.


Appeal to the Government of Pakistan for official recognition of Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik’s seven decades of invaluable services in the fields of education, training, and trade union movement:

Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik’s commitment to the nation as a visionary and prolific contributor is evident in his establishment of numerous high-quality educational and training institutions across our beloved country. These institutions serve thousands of deserving students and millions of hardworking individuals by providing educational and training facilities. They not only awaken the sense of fundamental rights but also contribute significantly to research, curriculum development, and leadership in the trade union movement and the working class.

Professor Malik’s dedication to the welfare and preservation of the fundamental rights of laborers calls for recognition. It is imperative for the Government of Pakistan to acknowledge his exceptional contributions. Therefore, it is essential for the government to grant special recognition to Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik.

In this regard, it is necessary for the Government of Pakistan to honor Professor Muhammad Shafi Malik’s 70 years of service in education, training, organization, and institution-building as well as his extensive contributions to the trade union movement. This recognition could be announced on Pakistan Day or Independence Day by conferring a suitable national award upon him.

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