The book is based on a series of diary entries of eighteen-year-old Akhtar Baloch, who was arrested for staging a hunger strike in Hyderabad against the brutal crackdown on students and activists protesting against the then military regime of Yahya Khan (1969–71). It comprises the author’s experiences during her year-long incarceration at Hyderabad and Sukkur jails of Pakistan in 1970. Initially locked up in the Hyderabad Jail, Baloch continued with her hunger strike, which resulted in her being sentenced to a year’s imprisonment at the Sukkur Jail by the military courts. Powerful and inspirational, Baloch’s story provides an unparalleled insight into the fabric of the Pakistani society of that time as portrayed through the women prisoners’ tales of hardship and injustice.
Born in Hyderabad, Sindh, on 16 December 1952, Akhtar Baloch became a political activist while she was still a student. She has been a part of important political and social movements such as the Movement for Restoration of Democracy (MRD). She also represented Pakistan at the 1986 International Women’s Conference in Moscow, in which women leaders from all over the world participated. Baloch continues to raise her voice for the defence of democratic values and has written on social issues affecting indigenous people in the national press for the last thirty years. She has also taught political science at college and university levels.
Asad Latif Palijo (BSc. (Hon) UCL, 2007) is a change-maker working on literacy and education reforms in southern Pakistan. This work is part of an overarching effort to democratise knowledge—especially the people’s history hitherto unaccounted for—in the national narrative.