ISLAMABAD, Feb 17: Speakers at a conference held here on Wednesday resolved to use Faiz’s poetry to correct the nation’s course and steer the country out of the present impasse.
They underlined the need to put faith in, and promote, the optimism that Faiz inspires about the ultimate victory of the people in their struggle for social justice, freedom, equality and peace.
They emphasized the poet’s active role shoulder to shoulder with the working class to establish a just society free of exploitation, oppression and economic disparity.
The conference was organised by Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO), an NGO.
Prominent among those who spoke on the occasion were poets Iftikhar Arif, Fehmida Riaz, Harris Khalique, intellectual Ashfaq Saleem Mirza, trade union leader Abdul Sattar. Aslam Azhar, who played a formative role in making the PTV a creative organ of the state, presided over the conference.
Poet Fehmida Riaz read a paper on “freedom of expression and lamented the manner in which the freedom of expression had been subverted especially by the TV channels. In her opinion, it was full of empty noise.
“A time has come when many people are quoting Faiz to advance their selfish ends. It is a conspiracy by the rich as well as those in power to advance their vulgar designs. This is being done to rob the people of their favourite poet; but he would remain the people’s poet for no one could ever succeed in separating Faiz from the people.”
She also read Faiz’s Punjabi poem Teri meri dharti mata to show Faiz’s attachment with farmers, peasants and workers.
She said that Faiz was wrongly been portrayed as a Sufi poet. His message was simple and clear. He wanted a peaceful and just society free from all exploitations. His message is more relevant today, a ray of hope for the poor, workers and peasants who are reeling under the burden of inflation, poverty, unemployment.
She held the exploitative economic system responsible for the current sorry state of affairs in the region. She urged the working class, peasants and students to get united and wage a struggle against this system.
National Language Autho-rity Chairman Iftikhar Arif admitted the failure of the intellectuals in highlighting the issues of the downtrodden and working class.
The NLA chief proposed that national days for the three great minds — Prof Abdul Salam, Dr Akhter Hameed Khan and Faiz — should be observed.
“We should feel ashamed of the way in which we have treated these great men who were a part of the national heritage and pride,” said Iftikhar Arif. He added that Faiz’s poetry was filled with hope for the nation and in this way, we could rekindle the hope for the ultimate betterment of the working class.
Ashfaq Saleem Mirza discussed Faiz’s message of optimism in the long night of darkness when he was in jail. But Faiz Sahib did not lose his cool or become dejected. He remained patient and had the greatness of heart not to harbour ill will for his many tormentors.
Trade union leader Abdus Sattar lamented that writers and intellectuals have forsaken the cause of the common man. He said Faiz sahib was a committed poet who worked under the leadership of Mirza Ibrahim for the cause of working class.
Earlier in his keynote address, Harris Khalique set out the rationale of the conference. He said that we have to launch a three-pronged struggle – on ideological front, in media and on the streets.
“The country is on a collision course with men with dark vision clashing on the streets. We have to move the country out of the slogans and shibboleths of the extremists and reactionaries and to show respect and love for the wretched and adopt tolerance as a way of life. These were the basic touchstones of Faiz’s poetry,” he said.
Aslam Azhar who spoke in the end took up the thread. The only message he gave to the gathering to find a solution out of the present morass. To emphasize this theme he read from Faiz’s poem Sochiye (think).
Zeeshan Zafar informed the gathering that SPO was working to create a society that based its mores on the ethics of social justice, peace, equality and harmony.
The conference went into second session in which Faiz’s evocative poetry was sung by Arieb Azhar, Shahram, Taimoor Rehman and Mehwish.
The session thrilled everyone with its flair of songs and ghazals. Dawn. February 18, 2010