On 18 August 2021 the Pakistan and international fishing communities bid farewell to the 66-year-old social justice activist, Muhammad Ali Shah who lost the battle to the coronavirus.
Shah was the founder and chairperson for the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) since 1998.
Muhammad Ali was born to a fisherman in the city of Karachi. He finished his early education at a school in the neighbourhood. He paid for his own education and graduated in Economics from the University of Karachi in 1986.
Throughout his life, the fisher activist was dedicated to the work of social development and social justice. Later on, his work solely focused on the fishing rights of communities in Pakistan. He was a noted fisher rights activist and challenged government policies that took away the rights of fisherfolk in favour of private contractors and international fishing companies.
Shah was also made chairman of the Asia region of the World Forum of Fisher People (WFFP), a global forum for fisher people.
Chief Minister of the province of Sindh, Murad Ali Shah, and civil rights organisations across the country have expressed condolences to the grieving family. After his death, people from different sections of society poured out messages on social media to express their sorrow on his passing.
Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum General Secretary, Saeed Baloch said; “Shah spent his entire life fighting for the rights of fisherfolk, especially those imprisoned in India. From speaking up against the construction of dams on the Indus River to the sale of Bundal and Buddoo islands, Shah did it all”.
The late rights activist recently led a campaign against the federal government’s announcement of constructing cities on the twin islands of Bundal and Dingi.
Additionally, he also ran campaigns to create awareness among young people against the challenges of climate change and pollution.
Muhammad Ali leaves behind a powerful legacy and will always be remembered for his work and sacrifice fighting for the rights and dignity of small-scale fisherfolk.