A Stain Covered Day Break

Dawn of Freedom – August 1947 was a poem was written as comment on the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan,  and sadly the words rings true of Pakistan today. 

Subh-e-Azadi
Ye dagh dagh ujala, ye shab-gazida sahar,
Vo initizar tha jis-ka, ye vo sahar to nahin,
Ye vo sahar to nahin jis-ki arzu lekar
Chale the yar ke mil-ja’egi kahin na kahin
Falak ke dasht mein taron ki akhiri manzil…..

Dawn of freedom
This stain-covered daybreak, this night-bitten dawn,
This is not that dawn of which there was expectation;
This is not that dawn with longing for which friends set out
That somewhere they would be met within the desert of the sky
The final destination of the stars…..

Extract from ‘Poems by Faiz’ Translated by Victor Kiernan   published by Vanguard Books (PVT) Ltd , South Publications, London

 

Advertisements

Ground Hog Day in the Bazaar’s of Pakistan

Here is a beautiful rendition of poem by Faiz Ahmed Faiz,  Aaj Bazaar Mein (Today in the Bazaar) being initially read by him, then continued by song which is sung to images  of the day to day life in Pakistan during the Zia-ul-Haq  era. It seems that Pakistan is trapped in a ground hog day.

Tariq Ali on Benazir Bhutto

It was not good to start 2008 in this way. The events in Pakistan  over the last month or so have been shocking, unsettling and ensured a rapid change for the people of Pakistan.  With Benazir’s son being sworn in as the leader of the PPP, whilst her husband controls the puppet, a feudal dynasty continues.

I was deeply affected by Tariq Ali’s article in the Independent newspaper that a good friend alerted me to where Tariq passionately and eloquently puts the argument of the state of politics in Pakistan and perhaps the Indian Sub-continent.

He starts his article by stating that his heart bleeds for Pakistan and that it deserves better than this grotesque feudal charade and draws an analogy to Mary, Queen of Scots. He writes that “Six hours before she was executed, Mary, Queen of Scots wrote to her brother-in-law, Henry III of France: “…As for my son, I commend him to you in so far as he deserves, for I cannot answer for him.” The year was 1587.

On 30 December 2007, a conclave of feudal potentates gathered in the home of the slain Benazir Bhutto to hear her last will and testament being read out and its contents subsequently announced to the world media. Where Mary was tentative, her modern-day equivalent left no room for doubt. She could certainly answer for her son.

A triumvirate consisting of her husband, Asif Zardari (one of the most venal and discredited politicians in the country and still facing corruption charges in three European courts) and two ciphers will run the party till Benazir’s 19-year-old son, Bilawal, comes of age. He will then become chairperson-for-life and, no doubt, pass it on to his children. The fact that this is now official does not make it any less grotesque. The Pakistan People’s Party is being treated as a family heirloom, a property to be disposed of at the will of its leader.

Nothing more, nothing less. Poor Pakistan. Poor People’s Party supporters. Both deserve better than this disgusting, medieval charade.

Benazir’s last decision was in the same autocratic mode as its predecessors, an approach that would cost her – tragically – her own life. Had she heeded the advice of some party leaders and not agreed to the Washington-brokered deal with Pervez Musharraf or, even later, decided to boycott his parliamentary election she might still have been alive. Her last gift to the country does not augur well for its future.

How can Western-backed politicians be taken seriously if they treat their party as a fiefdom and their supporters as serfs, while their courtiers abroad mouth sycophantic niceties concerning the young prince and his future.

That most of the PPP inner circle consists of spineless timeservers leading frustrated and melancholy lives is no excuse. All this could be transformed if inner-party democracy was implemented. There is a tiny layer of incorruptible and principled politicians inside the party, but they have been sidelined. Dynastic politics is a sign of weakness, not strength. Benazir was fond of comparing her family to the Kennedys, but chose to ignore that the Democratic Party, despite an addiction to big money, was not the instrument of any one family.

Click here for the complete article.

The Incident of the Shaving of the Moustache that Changed the Political Face of Pakistan and Benazir’s Destiny

Picture a very Shakespearean drama  and then place the Bhutto family as its main players. It surpasses all expectations of a volatile story full of greed, power hungry and manipulative individuals.

Benazir Bhutto’s brother, Murtaza Bhutto’s   assassination comes to mind. A brutal killing by any measure, one that was pre-meditated and meticulously planned when a brother did not see eye to eye with his sister and brother-in-law, who happened to be the Prime Minister and the Minister for Industry respectively. Zardari along with Benazir has been accused of siphoning public and private monies out of Pakistan and into Swiss accounts. Anyhow, we all know that story.

Murtaza Bhutto was a radical leftist who was being supported by the Soviet Union at the time of his assassination. He had been in exile in Afghanistan but decided to return to Pakistan in the mid ’90s to be part of the political milieu and to partake in the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). 

Critical of Asif Ali Zardari, Murtaza lost ground with Benazir which in turn made him a strong and vocal critic of the PPP. Murtaza felt that the arguments were getting out of hand and decided to have a private meeting with Zardari which ended badly.

After a heated discussion, Murtaza and Zardari resorted to fisticuffs during which Murtaza managed to somehow shave off half of Zardari’s moustache. A deeply humiliated Zardari set about his revenge.

In a staged shoot out on September 20 1996, outside Murtaza’s home in Karachi, a gang of armed police officers hid in strategic places. As Murtaza’s car pulled up, he along with seven other members of his entourage got out. Murtaza was immediately felled by a sniper, who managed to shoot him through the neck as well as in several other parts of his body.

Murtaza and his companions were fatally wounded and were left to bleed for over two hours before they were taken to separate hospitals. Murtaza of course died soon after, along with his supporters.

No one has been arrested or charged with the killing of Murtaza Bhutto. 

 

Salima Hashmi Arrested

“The objective of art is to give life a shape and though artists cannot change the world they can, through their work, give flight to imagination; they can give you the direction” Salima Hashmi

The recent arrest of Professor Salima Hashmi, daughter of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, highlights the crisis that Pakistan continues to face as democratic forces fail to engage effectively with the masses and the occupying power. General Musharraf’s knee jerk reaction of arresting human rights activist, lawyers and Judges leaves no room for progress and instead invites the like of Benazir Bhutto to intervene ensuring a bloody civil war. Silencing artists, thinkers, and intellectuals mirrors the actions of dictators such as Saddam Hussain and the Iranian regime.

Salima Hashmi’s contribution to the advent of art in Pakistan cannot be understated. She has been the Dean at the School of Visual Arts, Beacon house National University, Lahore. In addition, she is an activist, a painter, art educationist, writer and curator. In recent years she has been working on developing closer links with India and working towards a unity group. She was educated at the National College of Arts (NCA), Lahore, the Bath Academy of Art, U.K., and the Rhode Island School of Design, USA.

In addition, Salima taught for 30 years at NCA, Pakistan’s premier art institution, and retired as its Principal. Her work has been exhibited, and she has traveled and lectured extensively all over the world. She has also curated numerous international art shows in England, Europe, the USA, Australia, Japan and India.

Salima Hashmi is a recipient of The President’s Award for Pride of Performance, Pakistan.

Despite international protests, Salima Hashmi’s arrest alongside that of the renowned human rights Activist Asma Jahanghir has gone unheard. Surender Bhutani, Indo-Asian News Service from Doha, at the Hindustan Times writes further about Salima Hashmi’s arrest.

Salima Hashmi, an activist, painter and daughter of famous Urdu poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz, has been arrested in Pakistan following the imposition of emergency, fellow activist Asma Jahanghir told a TV news channel Sunday.

“I am under house arrest (and) so is my dear friend Salima Hashmi,” Jahanghir, president of the Pakistan Human Rights Movement, told the Al Jazeera TV channel from Islamabad.

To read the full article go to Hindustan Times