Stories about Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Remembering Habib Jalib: the torch-bearer of resistance through poetry

There is no doubt the languages of Pakistan are rich when it comes to resistance poetry. One need not look far; in Urdu alone, names such as Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Ahmad Faraz, Josh Malihabadi, Kishwar Naheed, Fahmida Riaz and Zehra Nigah come right up. Then there are names such as Shaikh Ayaz, Attiya Dawood and Amar Sindhu for Sindhi; Mir Gul Khan Naseer for Balochi; Ustad Daman, Ahmad Rahi, Ahmad Salim, Nasreen Anjum Bhatti, Najm Hosain Syed and Fakhar Zaman for Punjabi; Janbaz Jatoi and Shakir Shuja Abadi  for Seraiki; and Khan Abdul Ghani Khan, Qalandar Momand, Khatir Ghaznavi, Farigh ...

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How I jumped off the porch and wrote a book at the age of 21

When I was seven-years-old, I wrote a poem about a cat too afraid to jump off a three-foot porch. The cat’s name was Tom, and he was afraid of heights and thought he’d die if he made the jump. At the end of the two stanza poem, Tom makes the jump and realises he’s a fairly good jumper – as all cats are. From that day on, Tom isn’t afraid to jump off the porch. From that day on, Tom is brave. When I was 16-years-old, I fell in love with an amazing girl who would go on and break ...

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Coke Studio 10: A season of tributes that is too star-studded to be true?

You cannot make everyone happy. And nowhere does this apply more fittingly than to every offering of Pakistan’s musical opus: Coke Studio. The show, a success story like no other, has put Pakistan on the global culture map, but continues to divide opinions roaringly, more so of late. If the show plays it safe with covers, it’s unoriginal; if it delves into too much innovation, it becomes another Nescafe Basement. Navigating through the public complaints doesn’t always seem smooth for this show that has single-handedly rejuvenated Pakistan’s musical scene. With the line-up for the latest season having just been released, the furore is already upon us. For ...

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I think, pray and speak in English, so why should I speak to my children in Urdu?

My twins are almost three-years-old and they can’t speak Urdu, my ‘mother tongue’. They hear it being spoken around the house, and occasionally I may try to converse with them in Urdu but truth be told, it doesn’t come naturally. As first-time parents, we did get the infamous lecture that we should only speak to our children in Urdu or else they will never be able to speak the language. People would say, “Don’t worry, they will learn English at school but you must speak to them in Urdu.” The common fear is that our children will drift away from their cultural heritage. Most people believe that language is what will keep our ...

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Hindi Medium proves that English is still the language of the colonisers, except the elite are the colonisers now

When you think of language, you think in a language. For me, it’s English. It always has been. Sometimes, I wonder if my thoughts were in another language, would I be different? Would my life have turned out differently? Perhaps. You never know, that’s the thing. Hindi Medium made me realise that language has the power to change. I see it every day around me. I see it at work when I try to communicate in Urdu but my vocabulary falls short. I used to see it in school, when people mocked that one kid for speaking in Urdu because God forbid, ...

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Who let the Kuttay out?

What’s nearly as good as reading an Urdu poem? Simple! Hearing it sung. This might sound ridiculous to many of you out there, and if the poet in question is the legendary Faiz Ahmed Faiz, even blasphemous, but here me out. When was the last time you allowed yourself to indulge in written Urdu kalaam? Get my point? So, when we get to hear relatively obscure work of these literary maestros, since we seem to be so averse to the idea of actually reading them, I believe it’s something to be valued rather than being ridiculed. This brings me to ‘Kuttay‘, ...

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Mian Iftikharuddin: The stranger in the house

On March 29, 1953, Mian Iftikharuddin said that it was regretful that the Army had stepped in to control the anti-Ahmadi riots, that the government had “shown a way to coup d’ etat” and hoped that “the Army will (sic) be relieved of its extramarital functions” A statement made by a person with clear vision of a democratic future for his country, which appeared on the map of this world with name of Pakistan. One man who stood out more than the others in his quest to transform the newly formed state into a modern, democratic and secular society was Mian Iftikharuddin. He was ...

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Will we ever be able to fill in the gaps in Pakistan’s social fabric?

A recent poll done by BBC World Service, found that people are more likely than ever to identify as ‘global citizens’. According to Globescan, which conducted the poll and interviewed more than 20,000 people, over 56 per cent of Pakistanis identify as global citizens. While 27 per cent identify as Pakistanis first, and 43 per cent say their religion comes before their nationality. Is the nation failing its citizens or has globalisation made borders so meaningless that people need new political orders to anchor them? Or is it just stating the obvious; Muslims are always Muslims first, nationals second? The caliphates ...

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Kabira is still crying in Pakistan

While many progressives are fond of extolling Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s lament on the unfulfilled promise of postcoloniality, his evocative poem Subh-i-Azadi (The Dawn of Freedom), in prose, it is actually Saadat Hasan Manto who captures the opportunism and political chicanery which characterised the newly-formed state of Pakistan. In his little-known short story, Dekh Kabira Roya (See, Kabira Cried) published soon after Manto’s reluctant migration to his new country, Manto uses the famous 15th century Sufi poet Bhagat Kabir as a protagonist to presciently satirise the emerging trends of intolerance, orthodoxy and cultural chauvinism in the newly-independent state, which are all too familiar in Pakistan in the 21st century. As such, this fable may also be read today ...

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Noor Jehan: The undisputed queen of melody

Today is the 14th death anniversary of Malika-e-Tarannum Madam Noor Jehan. Yes, it’s been 14 long years since South Asia’s queen of melody left us all, after she suffered from a prolonged ailment, at the age of 74. Famous for her silken saris, bold eye make-up, unique hairstyles and glittering diamonds, Noor Jehan’s melodious voice touched millions and created a matchless blend of vocal gestures and emotional expressions, which interpreted feelings in a very surreal way. A legendary singer, all her musical performances have a distinct manipulation and creation of vocal articulation, all done according to the standards of style and genre of every ...

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