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Faiz is beyond Indo-Pak politics: Daughter

Lahore: Renowned Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz`s daughter Salima Hashmi says the poet is beyond the politics of India and Pakistan and can be a bridge between the two countries.
"During his exile, on his 70th birthday, Faiz was in Delhi at a big meeting where his poems were appreciated. Faiz had said then that he took this as a sign of India`s affection for the people of Pakistan," Hashmi told reporters here.

"Faiz was deeply connected to the struggles of Pakistanis. When people celebrate Faiz in India, it`s a message not just for Faiz but his people," Salima says.

Faiz, born in Sialkot in 1911, was active in the political and cultural space of India. After independence he moved to Pakistan, where among other things he worked as a journalist, teacher, college principal and activist. He died in 1982.

Week-long centenary celebrations in Lahore, which end on Faiz`s birthday Feb 13 and have been organised by the Faiz Foundation Trust, includes an evening with Indian film personalities Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar. A 20-strong delegation from India arrived for the festival in Lahore Thursday and also includes singer Ila Arun, writers Shama Zaidi and Atul Tiwari, director M.S. Sathyu, actors Rajendra Gupta and Lubna Salim, and scholars Asghar Wajahat and Suresh Chabria.

Hashmi was in Delhi last week for the same. Fans of Faiz in many Indian cities, including Delhi, Mumbai and Lucknow, are holding functions commemorating the poet.

"Everyone is susceptible to Faiz. Even the stubborn ones in the corridors of power in India and Pakistan have kept their differences aside to celebrate Faiz. He is beyond the reach of their politics," Salima told reporters here about the effort that went into holding the Faiz Ahmed Faiz centennial celebrations here.

Faiz`s poems continue to ring true across world.

"I have found Faiz in my wanderings in Palestine, South Africa, in Swat Valley, in the movements in West Bengal and the southern part of India. The sense in his poems is so intrinsic that no amount of terror can shake it. His work is a celebration of the fact that there is a common future for all of us," says Hashmi.

"Urdu is not even spoken in most of these places. There has to be something beyond language here," she says.

Faiz`s major works include "Naqsh-e-Faryadi", "Dast-e-Saba" and "Zindan-Nama". Faiz`s poetry has been translated into many languages, including English and Russian.

The deluge of requests she gets from people across the world, mostly from India, to use Faiz`s work in songs, films and in their own literature, makes Hashmi realise that "something in Faiz is beyond the problem of translation."

She says the Faiz festival was the strongest during the rule of President Zia-ul Haq.

Most of his works were banned during the military dictatorship of Haq (1977-88). These included `Hum Dekhenge`, an anthem for liberty from tyranny, with its lines `Sab taaj uchale jayenge, Sab takht giraye jayenge (all crowns will be tossed up, all thrones will be brought down)`. However, defying the diktat, famous ghazal singer Iqbal Bano recited it at a 1985 programme in Lahore to a 50,000-strong crowd, which took up the chant.

"At a time when political activity was not allowed, Faiz`s poems became a way for people to vent their feelings. That is when I realised that cultural activity is actually political," Salima says.

And that is the reason she persists despite the problems. "For us Faiz lives, and is rejuvenated every year. This year, considering the political climate of the world, the need for Faiz is urgent," she concludes.

IANS

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