Lifelong advocate for Karachi’s fishermen Muhammad Ali Shah passes away
Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum's chief and prominent fishermen rights activist Muhammad Ali Shah passed away in Karachi, reported 24NEwsHD TV channel.
Sindh Minister for Information and Labour Sindh and PPP Karachi Division President Saeed Ghani have expressed his deep sorrow and grief over the demise of Pakistan Fisher Folk Forum Chairman Muhammad Ali Shah.
“Muhammad Ali Shah devoted his entire life to the welfare of fishermen and the struggle for their rights,” he added.
Muhammad Ali Shah was the recipient of Ashoka Fellowship in 2006. Shah created a platform for fisherfolk a network of fishing communities that advocates for the rights of the fisherfolk and builds the financial and social infrastructure to allow them to access employment and income benefits as Pakistan’s fishing industry expands. Shah was born into a fishing family in Karachi.
As a child, he was enrolled in a religious school but ran away several times and his parents had to admit him to a local community school.
According to Ashoka website, “Shah worked hard to pay for his own education and graduated in Economics from Karachi University in 1986. During his college days, he became involved in student and nationalist politics but was frustrated with the negative approach of political leaders. In 1983, he established a community organization in his village to carry out social development work. Shah sought to develop health and education services in Ibrahim Hyderi and to train and organize the women and youth through participation in cultural activities.”
He built drama and theatre groups to inform the other fishing communities and create interaction.
In the process, he recognized that someone needed to challenge government policies that were taking away the rights of fisherfolk in favor of private contractors and international fishing companies.
During the 1990s, Shah attended numerous international meetings and saw the fishing associations in these countries working for the betterment of the fishing communities.
His participation in the Fish Harvesters and Fish Workers conference in Delhi in 1997 opened his eyes to various strategies.