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About - The Pakistan Progressive Movement

The South Asian Resource and Research Centre (SARRC) in association with the London School of Economics and Politics will work to conduct a survey on the material legacies of Pakistan’s progressive movements. The archive at the SARRC was established by Muhammad Salim Khawaja, who worked to conceal important documents pertaining to the progressive movement during periods of state repression.

Now, the SARRC holds a vast, extensive, and rich collection of materials documenting democratic and socialist politics in Pakistan. Their collection includes thousands of items, including the following:

  • Personal papers
  • Photographs
  • State documentation on progressive politics and court documentation from cases against democratic activists 
  • Posters and pamphlets
  • Documentation from political parties, trade unions, peasants/labor movements: Meeting minutes, internal communications
  • Newspapers and periodicals
  • Out-of-print books, reports, and dissertations: Banned literature, reports on human rights
  • Interviews with feminists and agrarian activists
  • Recordings of popular/folk literature in local vernaculars, including Punjabi and Sindhi
  • Social justice documentaries

The ongoing censorship of progressive movements in Pakistan as well as their histories has endangered this collection and makes preservation of its materials all the more urgent. The SARRC is regarded as a crucial resource by scholars, organizations, and artists involved in progressive history and politics in Pakistan. Their unique archive, while historically important, contains vulnerable items regarding political dissent in Pakistan, including personal papers of historic figures labelled as traitors due to their peaceful opposition to military rule-- such materials are difficult to store in state archives.

Providing access to these materials will allow for more visibility to communities and ethnic nationalities that have been repeatedly repressed or unacknowledged in national rhetoric and history. The records in the SARRC archive provide insight into a wide variety of narratives, including those with contention towards the centralizing state and those of religious minorities in a disposition of socio-political exclusion.