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Professor Waris Mir: the voice of dissidents – by Huma Mir

“I firmly believe that unless the system; in which intellectual contemplation is stifled and expression is enslaved; is not changed, any problem related to the betterment of the humanity cannot be solved. A true writer can never become an agent or cog. A writer is concerned with humanity at large and with a brighter and better future of his/her society. He is the torch-bearer of human values, aestheticism, peace, moderation and patriotism. For bringing about a revolution, he does not believe in using Kalashnikovs and missiles – he instead relies on his pen to achieve his objective,” so wrote Prof Waris Mir in one of his columns almost two decades ago.

Waris Mir, a celebrated writer and scholar and former chairman of the Mass Communication Department at the University of Punjab was at the climax of his professional career as a writer and a voice of the dissident when a sudden cardiac arrest interrupted his writings on July 9, 1987. His writings about political matters, feministic issues, social implications, cultural reforms, religious beliefs, philosophical themes, literary references and even historical background, remain relevant to date. Whatever Waris Mir wrote is excellent reference material for journalistic writings, intellectual inquisitions, historical references, national issues, political dilemmas, religious and cultural tribulations, scholarly themes and a perfect guideline for those who wish to practice journalism.

“The clash of right and wrong has been going on since Genesis and it shall always prevail, such as Musa (A.H) and the Pharaoh, Ibrahim (A.H) and Nimrod, Muhammad (PBUH) and Abu Jehal and Hussain (R.A) and Yazeed are those characters whose fiery stories have actually made human history more interesting and long lasting. True as that notion is, it is important to add in the same breath that such coward hearts shall keep contaminating the world as well who prefer to live a tainted life for the sake of their vested interests,” wrote Waris Mir in one of his columns titled ‘Hussaini Sh’oor Aur Haq-e-Hukmrani’ that appeared in October 1985.

Waris Mir wrote on political chaos in Pakistan, the unacceptable relationship between the polity of the country and the armed forces, ludicrous referenda of presidents holding military badges, rigged elections, sham democracy, suspension of the constitution and the like.

Waris Mir wrote about journalists, “As far as Pakistan is concerned, I believe that those with a light in the back of their minds have not really disappeared, they have just dispersed. The need of the hour is not only to find them but also to gather them on a platform from where they can speak out without any fear.”

Mir believed that “Even if the government of the day tries to stifle expression, there are those dissident voices which, with the help of a sigh or sob, make their presence felt and get their message across.” Though humble in expression, he could and did ‘make his presence felt’ but it was not with a sigh or sob that he did so. Bold and accountable to himself, he could not have put his pen to rest until and unless he had poured out his heart and mind — not for his own satisfaction but to fulfill the responsibility he carried on his shoulders, to act as the voice of the people.

Waris Mir wished for a reform in the political system of the country and he wanted social status of the common man and woman to be uplifted, to let the nation breathe in and out without being stifled.

Prof Waris Mir lived by the philosophy ‘Terrorism and extremism are the by-products of dictatorship’ and the Pakistani nation has had a demonstration of this theory four times during four tyrannical dictatorial regimes in the country. One military ruler (General Zia) blazed terrorism under the garb of the Russian invasion and the other (General Musharraf) has fanned it to an extent that the flames have reached in the midst of the country. ‘We need thee,’ any patriot’s heart might want to yell out for Mir Sahib. Had Prof Waris Mir been alive today, his writings would still have had the impact that they had more than two decades ago.

Note: Prof Waris Mir’s death anniversary falls on July 9. -contributed by Huma Mir

Source: The News, July 09, 2009

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