Early life and Education:
Today, the streets of Lyari might be known as the hub of gangsters, drug and weapon smugglers, but decades ago, it was the center of international footballers and boxers. In the same narrow and filthy streets of deprived Lyari, a committed Baloch philosopher, real nationalist, scholar, researcher, poet, historian, writer and teacher, Professor Saba Dashtiyari passed his days of childhood.
The slain professor was born in a lower middle class Baloch family on 2nd September 1953, in the house of Mohammad Usman, in a small town of Karachi, Mari Pour Grix (Kasanen Waadh). His father, who was employee of a private company, dubbed him Ghulam Hussain when he was born.
His forefathers, who belonged to Yousuf Zai tribe, basically were the native of Bela, migrated to a town of western Balochistan, known as Dashtiyari, due to domestic problems; but before two centuries his forefathers migrated from Dashtiyari and settled in Karachi; since then they are settled there.
In 1965, from Essa Jamal School Nya Abad Lyari, he passed his primary, and in 1971, he got the degree of metric in commerce from Okai Meman high school Karadar. In his schooldays, he was fond of Urdu.
More importantly, he was quite impressed by the poetry of Allama Iqbal, and he leaned and remembered many pieces of poetry of his. In 1973, he passed his intermediate in commerce from government SM Commerce College. Saba was a very active student in school days where he took part in different sorts of educational competitions and won many prizes.
When his beloved mother met the maker, he became very much disheartened and left his educational career. But due to inspiration of a kind hearted person, he took admission in “Al-Jamit-Al-ulmat-Al-Islamiyata Madressah”; and till 1978, he remained there and learned the recitation of holy Quran and learned Arabic language.
Moreover, he passed his BA in 1976 in private. In 1978, he passed his MA in ‘Islamiat’ in first division. In 1982, he passed the examination of philosophy. During this period, he also learned Persian in a private language learning center.
Saba got the post of a lecturer in Balochistan University in the department of Islamiat. From 1980 to 2011, he taught ‘Islamiat’ to the students of this University.
Even though Saba was born in a Baloch literally family, he did not have quite much interest in Balochi literature and language. Poetess and writer like Banul Dashtiyari brought him up with her holy hands and one of the pioneers of Balochi language, Syed Zahoor Shah Hashumi, frequently visited his home, but could not bring his attention to Balochi.
As Saba himself says “ I always believed that Balochi was the language of people of jungle, even in my early days of Balochistan University, when students talked with me in Balochi language, I considered it disrespect and immoral.” Saba says that the ideology of the imperialist state had totally mounted on his mindset and he had forgotten his own identity, which every dominated nation does to eradicate the culture and identity of the enslaved nation.
In 1982, Shaheed’s life went through a drastic change when his friends told him to write and broadcast for radio Quetta in Balochi, even firstly he denied; the friends forcefully took him with themselves to radio station. From this event, a dramatic change occurred, which not only took him away from the alien language like Urdu but also made him a great devotee of Balochi language, which proved to be a light in dark for this neglected language.
Poetry is one of the tools to express the inner feelings and hidden emotions. Shaheed Saba Dashtiyari was entirely expert in this field. He titillated Baloch nation from the deep slumber by his revolutionary poetry.
Additionally, in his poetry, he openly criticized pro-Pakistani Baloch nationalists, who on the paper talked of the prosperity of Baloch nation and due rights, but on the other hand supported the barbaric strategies of the state. According to him, they were as much involved in the slow motion genocide of the Baloch nation as the state. As he writes:
Wahsheehan Gon O Sahkiyan Hamrah Na Baan
Won’t accompany in happiness and trouble
Zar Chenen Hambal Hech Kasi Dozwah Na Banth
Money oriented associates can’t be well-wishers of anyone
Another place he says:
Kushant Cherag A Roshini A Gap Kan Anth
Destroy the lantern and talk of light
Dayant Zahr Pada Zindagi A Gap Kan Anth
Give hemlock one hand and talk of life on the other
Dap A Habar Degar O Dalani Raaz Dega
The words are different and secrets of the heart different
Gusahant Drog O Bezan Rasthi A Gap Kna anth
Tell lies one hand and talk of reality on the other
Apart from composing poetry, Professor Dashtiyari was expert in writing Balochi short stories, in which he highlighted social evils of the Baloch communities, especially, the boorish attitudes of men towards women.
The collection of his short story books like “Aass O Hasseb”, “Hon O Hosham” and “Thranagani Bunza” are some of the master pieces of Balochi short stories. Equally, Balochi literature and language lacked researches but the slain professor filled this empty gap by bringing forward research-based books like “Balochi Zuban O labzank”, “Balochi Zuban-e-Hakibat, in two series”.
Similarly, his books like “Gulkar O Chikan Kar”, “Be thawari A Darya”, “Gungedamen Sar Zamin”, “Sachan O Sahatho”, “Hangaren Wahag”, “Namdeyani Droth”, and Urdu books; “Muthalia Phalsafa”, Phalsafa Islam Wa Younan” and “Syed” Hashumi Shaksiath Aur Pan” deserve heartily compliments and respect.
Syed Zahoor Shah Reference Library
One of the greatest works of Saba Dashtiyari was establishing a library, consisting more than 1, 50,000 books about Baloch history and literature, etc. Uniquely, it is the biggest Baloch library throughout the world comprising the most number of the books with regard to Baloch.
Nevertheless, establishing such a huge library was never an easy task for an individual, especially, in a society where education has got the least priority; but his commitment was something fierce strong which forced him to go house to house of every Baloch of Balochistan and foreign countries for financial help.
After the arduous struggle of six years, he established his library in a small town of Karachi, Malir, in 2002. About this library Shaheed Saba himself utters “My ultimate purpose of establishing this academy is to make an international research academy for Baloch, where every piece of written material should be collected around the world about Baloch, Balochi, and Balochistan and be found here”.
Shaheed Professor Saba Dashtiyari was a respected figure in the struggle of Baloch movement. It was the regime of General Pervez Musharraf when he became politically active and openly took part in the rallies of BSO-Azad against the disappearances and sat in hunger strike camps with the families of missing Baloch.
Further, he raised his voice for Baloch in gatherings; and awakened Baloch about their rights.
As someone says beautifully, “Shaheed Saba was a University within the University.” Undoubtedly, he was. Shaheed Saba never considered himself superior to anyone, albeit being a professor, he went and sat in the canteen of the University with the students and discussed all types of topics with them.
The brave man passed 30 years in Balochistan University, and was known and respected by every Baloch student who approached this university for acquiring education in these 30 years.
Gar Ban Begwah Ban thopan Ban Bellay Sayed,
Hey Shigan A Mah janth kassey keh pushta kenzethag
Saba usually quoted this piece of poetry after giving a lecture to public. By quoting this piece of poetry, he meant if death comes and stands in front of his struggle, he will not hesitate to embrace it.
However, Death, which frightened the most of committed people, could not do anything to him. How could he be frightened of death? Because he was of the view, if the prosperity of his nation lied in his death, he was ready for that.
In the evening of 1st June 2011, Saba, as usual walking back to his room from Balochistan University, some anti-Baloch persons fired at him, thinking that by killing him bodily, they can eliminate his ideology. But they had forgotten that killing of such a great personality gives uncountable lives to his ideology.
Today, Shaheed Saba Dashtiyari might not be present in us bodily, but the light of his knowledge is showing the right path to entire Baloch nation.