From right-wing student politics to progressive publishing.

LAHORE -- Amjad Saleem Minhas is one of the relatively progressive publishers from Lahore whose life took many turns before he settled with publishing Urdu and Punjabi books under the title of Sanjh.

Born in 1959 in Faisalabad, Amjad's father was the regional emir of Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) of the Lyallpur (now Faisalabad) and Jhang area. However, the family moved to Lahore in the early 1960s and he grew up at Ichhra.

'My political activities started from Ichhra when I was a student of 7th grade at Naya Madressa School of the JI. Some members of the Albadr fought against the Bengalis' freedom struggle in 1971 in support of the Pakistan army. One of them, named Abdul Hanan, a Bengali, invited me to attend the Ijtimah of the Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT). The other members of the IJT that later became known like Mian Maqsood Ahmed, Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed, Dr Mansoorul Hameed were there too. I became a member of the IJT.

'In 1974, I attended the first Ijtimah of Jamiat in Peshawar where I noticed that 70pc of the participants were schoolchildren.'

By his matriculation, Amjad used to circulate the press releases of the IJT in the newspapers offices. Later, he became the IJT Nazim of north Lahore. He remained an active part of the IJT until the 1980s; however, his differences with the organisation had started in 1978-79 as it, according to him, had started turning violent.

'Two students were killed by the IJT. One of them was Aminullah at the FC College Lahore in 1978 while the other was Mehmood Akhtar, himself member of the IJT, who was killed by another IJT member over a petty matter of refusing to help a student in cheating during the exam just after the start of Gen Zia's dictatorship.'

Amjad had no ideological differences with the IJT but he says that three factors turned him away from it - violence, turning against their own people for vested interests and contradiction between words and actions. They used to hatch conspiracies against each other and the office-bearers, he recalls.

'The secretary general of the Jamiat of that time, Abdul Mohsin Shaheen, who later became the emir of JI Multan, was also at the receiving end. I told Nazim-e-Aala of the IJT, Shabbir Ahmed, who became an MNA later on, about the conspiracy from important members of the Majlis-i-Shura of the Jamiat against Shaheen.' The Nazim sought time to take action but that became a bone of contention between Amjad and the IJT.

Another example of the hypocrisy rampant in the IJT...

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