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Remembering Ahmed Faraz: A Voice of Dissent – by Arjumand Ara

Kisi aur des ki or ko, suna hai Faraz chala gaya.
sabhi dukh samet ke she’hr ke, sabhi qarz utaar ke she’hr ka.

(They say that Faraz has left for some other land,
Taking with him all the sorrows of the city, paying away all its debt.)

The long history of political turbulence in Pakistan produced a long list of writers, poets and artists who raised their voice against oppressive regimes. In exchange, they suffered regular threats, imprisonment, torture and exile. Prominent writers and artists like Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Habib Jalib, Ahmed Faraz and Ustad Daman were hunted and haunted by the establishment. Finding the political milieu unbearable, these writers had to go on self-exile as mark of protest. Through their poetry and other writings, Faiz, Jalib, Faraz and others exposed the exploitative and suppressive nature of the Pakistani state, plight of the ordinary citizen, helplessness of writers and artists, imperialist interference and their agencies, and the environment of political suffocation borne out of pruned civil rights, truncated laws and gagging of public opinion.

However, as one may be proud of this legacy of protest and defiance, it is sad to note that there have been writers and poets who accepted positions and power as rewards for keeping silence or lending support to the rulers. But then, this is not a phenomenon unique to Pakistan. Hegemony will always find courtesans and court-poets for legitimacy.

Most of the Urdu poets and writers from Pakistan have always been politically responsive, unlike their counterparts in India who chose to remain apolitical/neutral, especially after independence. This was perhaps because of linguistic-communal introversion that Urdu-speakers suffered in India. On the other hand, the Pakistani writers and artists had to express themselves in a long-term civil war-type situation characterised by a continuous political instability, lack of social reform, a continuing grip of landed oligarchies and tremendous neo-colonial pressure on the Pakistani political economy. Therefore, we see a galaxy of radical writers/poets associated with the Progressive Movement, which included poets like Faiz, Jalib and Faraz. With them the Progressive Movement flourished in Pakistan, while in India we saw a decline with leading poets like Ali Sardar Jafri reciting poem in praise of Lotus (while accepting Gnanpith award) and applauding Atal Bihari Vajpayee as a great poet.

To trace the legacy of anti-hegemonic resistance we see that Faiz was jailed for a year after being implicated in the notorious Rawalpindi conspiracy case. Habib Jalib was imprisoned several times. To silence him, other tactics were also tried, e.g., his name was selected for Adamji Award, the highest literary award of Pakistan. Habib Jalib refused to accept it, saying that he wrote for people, not for Adamji. Ahmed Faraz, best known Progressive poet after Faiz and Jalib, was first jailed in June 1977 during the Zulfiqaar Bhutto government for reciting his poem Peshawar Qatilon (Professional Killers!) in Islamabad in which he challenged the military rulers, saying: Peshawar qatilon tum sipahi nahin (Soldiers you are not, you professional assassins).

As he always found himself at the left of the establishment (right from the Ayub regime, to Yahya’s, Bhutto’s and down to Musharraf’s), Faraz was always viewed by the establishment as a rebel. In 1978 he was exiled from Sindh (by the Zia regime), receiving orders for his exile in a Mushaira where he had just recited his famous poem Muhaasira (The Siege). He felt so greatly dejected and heartbroken that he left the country and did not return for six years. Asked once, when Zia was still in power, why he had left Pakistan, he replied that he was in Karachi when the order expelling him from the province of Sindh was served. ‘I said to myself, ‘What have we come to when a man is exiled from his own land! Today, it is Karachi, tomorrow it will be Peshawar, the day after, Lahore. That is when I decided to leave.’ Faraz also returned the Hilal-i-Imtiaz conferred on him for his literary achievements in 2004. He returned the award in 2006 after becoming disenchanted with the government and its policies. He said in a statement, “My conscience will not forgive me if I remained a silent spectator of the sad happenings around us. The least I can do is to let the dictatorship know where it stands in the eyes of the concerned citizens whose fundamental rights have been usurped. I am doing this by returning the Hilal-e-Imtiaz (civil) forthwith and refuse to associate myself in any way with the regime…”

No one could match the wit of Faraz. When asked why he had kept the Hilal-e Imtiaz for two years, he replied jokingly, “Do you think it laid eggs in those two years?”

He could actually outwit his opponents without losing his sense of humour. An anecdote gained much popularity. One day Faraz heard loud banging at his door. He rose hurriedly to open it, only to see four or five bearded men in white skullcaps. “Can you recite the Kalima?” one of them asked. “Why, has it changed?” Faraz inquired.

These are just a few examples of how he could give a humorous turn to a grave situation or outwit his opponents. Kishwar Naheed, writing a letter to ailing Faraz (in The Hindu, New Delhi on 24 August 2008, just a day earlier when Faraz died), narrates several such incidents. Once at a mushaira held on the occasion of International Women’s Day to honour protesting women. Faraz was the chief guest. When he started reciting his poetry, a fiery Tahira Abdullah objected, saying, ‘we want poetry on women.’ Faraz abruptly replied, “But all my poetry is about women.”

With the passing away of Faraz (August 25, 2008) in Islamabad, a true inheritor of Faiz’s mantle has died. As noted Pakistani journalist Khalid Hasan puts: ‘Like Faiz, he suffered prison and lived in exile during the dark days of military rule in the 1980s. Like Faiz, he is very popular, especially among the youth, and nobody wrote with more intensity about love than Faraz. He gained fame as a young man…. Few poets have had more of their work set to music and performed by the great singers of the age than Faraz.’

Faraz is considered one of the best poets of Pakistan. He was born in Nowshera on January 14, 1931. His real name was Syed Ahmad Shah. The Pashto-speaking Faraz learned and studied Persian and Urdu at the Peshawar University, where he also taught later. He headed the Islamabad-based National Book Foundation for several years. In 1976, he became the founding Director General (Later Chairman) of Pakistan Academy of Letters. He wrote 13 books and all put together came as Shehr-e Sukhan aarasta hai (A City of Poetry is Adorned), his latest publication so far.

Arjumand Ara is a lecturer in the Department of Urdu, Delhi University.

Courtesy: Radical Notes

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  • باخبر ذرائع کے مطابق کراچی میں قتل و غارت کی نئی لہر الطاف حسین کے خلاف ایف آئی اے کے پاس موجود ایم کیو ایم کے دہشت گردوں کے اقراری بیان برطانوی حکومت کو بھیجنے کے بعد شروع ہوئی ہے۔ کیونکہ جب ایم کیو ایم کے قائد الطاف حسین نے کراچی میں اپنے کارکنوں سے کہا تھا کہ وہ ایک ماہ کا راشن جمع کرلیں تو پاکستان کے میڈیا کی جانب سے برطانیہ پر الزام عائد کیا گیا تھا کہ وہ کراچی کی صورتحال خراب کرنے میں ملوث ہے۔ اس پر برطانیہ نے اپنے شہریوں کے کراچی قتل و غارت میں ملوث ہونے کا ثبوت مانگا تھا جس پر انٹیلی جنس کی رپورٹس اور دہشت گردوں کے اقراری بیانات کی سی ڈیز برطانوی حکومت کے حوالے کی گئی تھیں۔ حکومت پاکستان کے اس اقدام نے الطاف حسین کو سیخ پا کردیا اور انہوں نے حکومت کو بلیک میل کرنے کے لئے کراچی کے حالات خراب کردئے

    کراچی ٹارگٹ کلنگ میں متحدہ قومی موومنٹ (الطاف)، متحدہ حقیقی،اے این پی، سپاہ صحابہ، سپاہ محمد ملوث ہیں
    26 گرفتار ٹارگٹ کلرز میں سے 14کا تعلق ایم کیو ایم ،3کا ایم کیو ایم حقیقی، 5کا لشکر جھنگوی، 2کاسپاہ صحابہ سے ہے اور اے این پی و سپاہ محمد سے بھی ایک ایک شامل ہیں۔
    دہشت ناک وارداتوں پر مبنی دل دہلا دینے والی رپورٹ

    اسلام آباد (انصار عباسی)کراچی ٹارگٹ کلنگ کے حوالے سے ہونے والی 2010ء میں تحقیقات اور اس سلسلے میں 26ملزمان کی گرفتاری اور تمام اہم سرکاری ایجنسیوں کی مشترکہ تحقیقاتی سرکاری رپورٹ سے ظاہر ہوتا ہے کہ ان میں گرفتارشدگان میں سے اکثریت کا تعلق متحدہ قومی موومنٹ جبکہ دیگر ایم کیو ایم حقیقی ، لشکر جھنگوی ،سپاہ محمد ، عوامی نیشنل پارٹی اور سپاہ صحابہ پاکستان سے تعلق رکھنے کے دعویدار ہیں۔یہ خوفناک رپورٹ بیانات ، اعترفات، انکشافات، گرفتار ہونے والے ٹارگٹ کلرزکی جرائم کی تاریخ سمیت جنوبی افریقا سے روابط پر مشتمل ضخیم رپورٹ کا ہر صفحہ دردناک کہانیوں سے پر ہے جہاں لوگوں کی بہت بڑی تعداد کو بے رحمی اور سنگدل اندازمیں قتل کیا گیااور وہ بھی صرف چند ایک ہی مرضی خواہش پر۔ الطاف حسین کی جماعت ایم کیو ایم ہمیشہ ان الزامات کو مسترد کرتی رہی ہے اورمبینہ ٹارگٹ کلنگ اور استحصال کا الزام پی پی پی کی پیپلزامن کمیٹی اور اے این پی پر لگاتی رہی ۔اگرچہ رپورٹ میں پولیس ، خفیہ اداروں اور عدالتی کارروائی کی ناکامی کے حوالے سے کوئی تبصرہ نہیں کیا گیا ہے، جرائم کی سرسری تفصیلات پڑھنے سے قانون نافذ کرنے والے اداروں اور فوجداری نظام انصاف کی سنگین کوتاہیوں کا اظہار ہوتا ہے۔اس سے ظاہر ہوتا ہے کہ نہ صرف شواہد کی عدم دستیابی کی بناء پر سیکڑوں مجرموں کو رہا کیا گیا بلکہ ان کو انٹیلی جنس ایجنسیوں اور پولیس کی نگرانی سے بھی آزاد چھوڑ دیا گیاتا کہ یہ مجرم بغیر کسی خوف کے اپنی مجرمانہ سرگرمیاں جاری رکھ سکیں۔ان ملزمان سے پوچھ گچھ کرنے والی مشترکہ تحقیقاتی ٹیموں میں آئی ایس آئی ، آئی بی ، پولیس، اسپیشل برانچ،سی آئی اور ملٹری انٹیلی جنس کے نمائندے شامل تھے۔ سرکاری دستاویزات میں ٹارگٹ کلرز کی 3کٹیگریز بنائی گئی ہیں۔
    ٹارگٹ کلنگ کے الزام میں گرفتار ہونے والے ملزمان کی تعداد26ہے جن کو2010ء میں گرفتار کیا گیاتھا۔ان 26 میں سے14کا تعلق ایم کیو ایم ،3کا ایم کیو ایم حقیقی،5کا لشکر جھنگوی،2کا سپاہ صحابہ سے ہے اور اے این پی و سپاہ محمد سے بھی ایک ایک کا تعلق ہے۔ایم کیو ایم سے جن کا تعلق ہے ان میں حبیب الرحمن ولد مجید الرحمن، مراد اختر صدیقی ولد منہاج الدین صدیقی،سلطان عرف کپل عرف محمد سلیمان، جمال عبدالناصر عرف کمانڈو،طاہر علی عرف توپچی، عمران عرف عرفان لمباولد ایس محبوب علی،شارق نفیس عرف شیری ولد محمد نفیس شیخ،عاطف رشید عرف گھوڑاولد عبدالرشید،اکرام عرف اکوولد حبیب اللہ، انس بن ہارون ولد سید ابو اسد،محمد اشتیاق عرف سلیمان عرف پولیس والا، محمد یٰسین ولد عبدالحق اور رضوان محمودعرف خالدچیمبرولد محمود خان شامل ہیں۔
    ٹارگٹ کلنگ کے کیسوں میں 5مشتبہ افراد کا تعلق لشکر جھنگوی سے ہے جن میں وسیم احمد عرف بارودی،محمد عبداللہ عرف تیمورولدایم ریاض شاہد،حافظ اخلاق ولد پرویز اختر،نسیم حیدر عرف فرعون ولد غلام حیدراور آصف رشید عرف دنبہ ولد ہارون رشید شامل ہیں۔ایم کیو ایم حقیقی سے تعلق رکھنے والے 3ملزمان مقبول حسین ولد علی حسن،اظہر علی عرف انکل عر ف بابوولد عبدالرحمن اور عبدالعزیز انصار ولد عبدالعزیز انصاری ہیں۔سپاہ صحاہ سے تعلق رکھنے والے ناصر قادری ولد عبدالقدیراور محمد شعیب ولد محمد علی ہیں۔اے این پی کا مشوار نوازعرف مشواری ولد انور خان جبکہ سپاہ محمد سے سید علی مہدی عرف سلیمان ولد سید جعفر علی سے ہے۔صرف ایم کیو ایم سے تعلق رکھنے والے مراد اختر صدیقی ولد منہاج الدین صدیقی کے علاوہ تقریباً سب کو قتل و لوٹ ماروغیرہ میں ملوث ہونے کی وجہ سے ’بلیک‘قرار دیا گیا ہے ۔ جبکہ مراد صدیقی کو ’وائٹ ‘درجہ دیا گیا ہے کیونکہ وہ ماضی میں بھی کسی جرم میں ملوث نہیں رہااور جس قتل کیس میں اس کی گرفتاری عمل میں آئی ہے وہ اس کیس میں بھی بے قصور ہے۔

  • Dear President Asif Ali Zardari and the Co-Chairman of the PPP,

    My name is Hamzo Ali Zardari, son of the late Ali Nawaz Zardari. I am from the old village Pyaro Fakir Zardari, now named American farm Zardari Abad II which is near Asgarabad. I also have a newer village called American farm Zardari Abad (U.C. 29 Jamal Shah Taseel Daur District Shaheed Benazir Abad). Both of these villages are in need of roads and schools. Previously, I had met with Muturma Faryal Thalpur (M.N.A.), and Azara Pacheyho (M.N.A.), who had both accepted my requests. These promises were made three years ago, around election time, and no work has been done. As such I am asking you to intervene and to please make sure that these important promises are fulfilled.
    As well, two years ago I paid Rs 390,000 to the Water Course Lining Department of Hyderabad, Sindh, Director General Agha Zaferullah. They have released some of the funds, and some of the work has been done. However, I need them to complete the work on the water courses 5ARSujawal and 2AL Jan-Mohammed.
    The Zardari House has attempted to contact them many times. Mdm. Faryal Thalpur has also sent them a letter concerning the completion of the water courses. We have not received any word back from them.
    I have been a supporter of the PPP since childhood. I have been appointed an officer by the PPP twice (both times in 1989).
    Please try and help us with these very important problems. I trust that both of you can see to it that our concerns are met. Thank you.

    Hamzo Ali Zardari
    Now,I am living in Canada .
    Contact No. 1 + (647) 764-6492

  • To ,
    The Honorable President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
    Mr. Asif Ali Zardari

    Subject : An application to issue funds and orders to Concerned Officers and Authority to start the work of Road construction mentioned below .
    R / Sir ,
    Most Respect fully this is submitted to your kind honor that rough feasibility report has been issued by WORK AND SERVICE DEPARTMENT district Shaheed Benazirabad for the road & construction of road from Village Akbar bhatti to Village Lashkari Zardari Deh 3 Alaf Dad Mile 0/0 1/4+330 ( total lenght 2.50 K.M ) . above mentioned road . Now funds are required to
    construct the road from the funds of MNA Madam Azra Fazal Pecho and MPA Syed Fase Ahmed Shah . we are sending attached copy of rough feasisibility reporet with this application.
    There fore you are request kindly to issue required funds as road mentioned above can be constructed to facilitate the people of its area .

    Thanking in anticipation
    Your sincere

    P/O Asghar abad
    Village Lashkari Zardari Deh 3 Alaf Dad
    Taluka Daur, District Shaheed Benazirabad