Pakistan’s Gay Community Quietly Breaking Barriers

Written by Ron Moreau and Sami Yousafzai

Actor Assad Khan is part of a generation of young men breaking barriers for gays in conservative Pakistan, where homosexuality is punished by prison or worse.

Assad Khan knew he was different from a very young age. As a child at home he preferred playing with his two sisters rather than his two brothers. At school, too, he gravitated toward playing with girls. “In school I was more secure and happy playing with girls than with boys,” says the 23-year-old, boyishly handsome Khan. As a result of his behavior, he says, his family largely ignored him. “I got a terrible complex as my family favored, and gave more attention to, my brothers,” he recalls.

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As he grew up in Islamabad, reached puberty and realized he was gay, he suffered even more. “Being a gay in a society like Pakistan is not easy,” Khan says. “For a long time, I was frightened of who I was, so I hid my gay status…I acted 24 hours a day.”

Even so, he was constantly teased and harassed for his appearance and mannerisms, even ostracized. His parents and cousins made fun of him. His parents were ashamed to introduce him as part of the family. “At the mosque during Friday prayers I was teased and stared at,” he recalls. “At school and in college other students shunned me and my small circle of friends.”

Now a successful actor and fashion designer, Khan has lived and worked in the conservative and bomb-terrorized northwestern city of Peshawar for the past three years. “I felt that society was telling me I was not one of them, that I was not a proper person,” he says. “But soon I realized that it’s not my fault that God made me gay. So as a young man I came to accept who I was and to be proud of myself.”

He has flourished ever since he made that realization—succeeding against all the odds in homophobic Pakistan, where the powerful Muslim clergy preaches that homosexuality is prohibited under Islam, and where sodomy is illegal under the civil code and punishable by a long jail term (though the harsh sentence is rarely handed down). In the Taliban-controlled territory of the northwestern tribal agencies, the penalty is worse: death by firing squad or stoning. Even the man on the street seems to have no time for gays. A Pew Research Center survey of 39 countries published in early June found that only two percent of Pakistanis believed that “society should accept homosexuality,” second only to Nigeria, which registered a rock-bottom one percent acceptance rating of gays. (By way of comparison, 80 percent of Canadians said they accepted gays.)

While the Pakistani government doesn’t target LGBT citizens, neither does it have much tolerance for the gay community or its issues. Late last month and without comment, Islamabad shut down the country’s first and only gay website, queerpk.com, which was first launched last July. The website’s founder, who goes by the pseudonym Fakhir, says the ban is “unconstitutional and opposes freedom of speech.” But he does not want to pursue legal action as he doesn’t want a confrontation with the government, which could unmask those behind the website whose subtitle is “Know us, Don’t Hate Us.” Fakhir says the site is not “blasphemous or pornographic” but is aimed at educating gays on health issues such as preventing the spread of HIV, and on how to deal with social and family pressures and with depression.

Bucking discrimination, Khan, an ethnic Pashtun who goes by the nickname of Danny, studied fashion design at a college in Islamabad and quickly fell into the growing businesses of fashion, modeling and acting. His acting career got a big boost in 2009 when he was cast in a British film, called Kandahar Break: Fortress of War, which was being shot in Baluchistan, the wild-and-woolly home of his ultra-traditional Safi tribe in western Pakistan. He played a Taliban interpreter with gay tendencies who worked for a British explosive ordinance disposal team that Mullah Mohammad Omar’s regime had hired to clear mine fields in 1999.

In 2010, Khan moved to heavily Taliban-influenced Peshawar to further his acting and fashion careers, but chiefly to be closer to his partner. At first he was terrified, afraid of the Taliban and the frequent terror bombings. Every day he cautiously emerged from his hotel filled with trepidation. But he was soon pleasantly surprised by what he found: gays were not as unwelcome and under the gun as he had imagined. On the contrary, he quickly received a vibe that many young men in the ostensibly macho, largely Islamist city were gay or gay-friendly. “In Peshawar I feel like almost every second guy is gay by the way they look and talk,” he says. “On the streets and in the markets I think most people look at cute boys more than at girls.” But, he adds: “Unfortunately gays feel they have to hide their feelings and their true selves,”

Khan and other Pakistani gays say that being gay in Pakistan is not all that unusual despite the ostensibly strong prejudice against homosexuals. “I’ve found that male-to-male sex is more common than you’d imagine in our society,” says Shehzad, a smart, fashionable and educated 25-year-old gay man from Lahore. A June article in Mother Jones magazine confirmed Shehzad’s feeling, reporting that Pakistanis lead the world in Google searches for the terms “shemale sex,” “teen anal sex” and “man f—king man.”

Pakistani gays like Khan and Shehzad say the country is rife with hypocrisy. “I know that some Pakistani policy makers practice gay love in private, then go out and make laws against gays,” says Shehzad. Khan agrees: “I know that some Pakistani politicians of all parties, including those from religious parties, are interested in gay men,” he says. “Even some men who teased me for being gay suddenly come on to me when we are in a quiet spot.” “If you heard the names of the prominent members of Pakistani society who are gay, you wouldn’t believe your ears,” adds Chaudhry Javid, a 28-year-old gay man who works for a foreign aid agency and lives in a luxury apartment in Islamabad.

Still, Javid keeps his sexual orientation in the closet, hiding it from his family and friends, and claiming it is too early for him to reveal himself. “If we come out, our families will cut us out like a cancer,” he says. He adds that he’s ashamed that he can’t tell his parents that his best friend is also his sexual partner whom he loves. “I suffer when I lie to my parents describing him as just a good friend,” he says. Shehzad, too, says it’s too early for him to come out. “Society doesn’t accept us,” he says. “I don’t dare to go public.” Faisal Khan, a 28-year-old government bureaucrat in Peshawar, says he would get fired or worse if he came out. (He is not related to Assad Khan.) “I cannot expose myself,” he says. “People in the office would use it against me and I’d lose my job.” Faisal Khan says he doesn’t dare visit his family’s home village just south of Peshawar for fear the Taliban would find out about his gayness and capture him, causing a scandal for his family.  Nor would he dare to confess his sexual persuasion to the mullah at his mosque. “He would probably send me to the Taliban who would make a kebab of me,” he says.

Even so, Faisal Khan and other Pakistani gay men see hope in the future as they sense that public attitudes are slowly changing. For starters, people are beginning to tolerate unmarried young men and women congregating together in public. If the public is beginning to accept men and women dating, they reason, then eventually gay relationships will also be tolerated. Wearing a suit and red tie and sporting long black hair, Faisal Khan points to the numerous heterosexual couples sitting together in a modern University Town café in Peshawar, talking and laughing as they eat western food and listen to rock music. “Look, these boys and girls are here in public without any hesitation or fear of society or the Taliban,” he says. Javid says that a decade ago you would never see young men and women holding hands in public. Now it is almost common in the cities. Ironically, it’s not uncommon, and not viewed as homosexual behavior, for young men to hold hands in public as they walk—it’s a customary sign of friendship.

But there are still strict limits. In rural, traditional Pakistan there is a clear separation of the sexes as boys and girls are forbidden to meet in public. Yet in the tradition-bound confines of the countryside, it is easier for gay Pakistani couples to congregate in public than for mixed-sex couples. “It’s normal for a group of men to hang out together so no one can bother us,” says Javid. “But in some traditional areas, boys and girls going out together is still a sin against society and our religion.”  Javid adds that viewing homosexuality as a sin, as most Pakistanis do, is absurd since there is no victim. “Aren’t the rampant corruption in our society and the killing of innocents by the Taliban greater sins?” Javid asks.

For most gays in Pakistan, society’s views are not changing fast enough. So for now, they are forced to live largely an underground existence. They point to the many and lavish subterranean gay parties as the highlight of their social lives. “These weekly underground parties keep us happy,” says Shehzad. “Here we have a place to enjoy ourselves hidden from the Taliban, the government and the police.” Organizing these extravagant, gay parties in Islamabad and Peshawar has become a good business for Assad Khan. He says that many of the parties he organizes cost $5,000 or more to cover the expense of renting a large, posh house or reception hall, providing private security, live bands, food and drinks and paying off the cops. Partyers pay an admission charge, allowing Khan to make a profit. “Islamabad is a city famous for the biggest number of gay parties,” Assad Khan says. “The number of these parties, and the number of gays attending, is increasing, even in Peshawar.” He also helped organize a summer music festival in the mountain resort of Swat this past summer in the face of Taliban threats, and he plans to bring fashion shows to conservative Peshawar soon.

Although it may be premature, Khan is trying to organize a gay rights movement capable of standing up to the Taliban, the politicians and aggressive Pakistani cops. As a result of his efforts, he has received anonymous, threatening phone calls and has escaped an attempt to kidnap him at a wedding reception not long ago. But he remains unshaken. “We have to defeat the concept of fear and terror,” he says. “Everyone should have the right to live as they please. No one has the right to dictate to us.” He adds: “I want to be a leading voice for gay rights and protection.”

But he quickly emphasizes that his push for gay rights stops short of campaigning for the legalization of gay marriage. “We don’t want to push for gay marriage, only for our human rights,” he says. Most other gays steer clear of any gay rights movement, fearing retaliation. “The Taliban and other extremists will target any gay rights movement,” says Shehzad. “It’s too dangerous to get involved.”

Originally published in The Daily Beast, October 30, 2013: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/10/30/pakistan-s-gay-community-quietly-breaking-barriers.html

Group Show of Celebrated n’ Young Artists – Islamabad Aug 27-Sept 5/12

Jugni Khair Vehar Presents
Oil Painting – Water Colour – Collage Calligrapgy – Sculptures – & What not!

Group Show of Celebrated n’ Young Artists
Will be Inaugrated by Renowned Artist
Jamal Shah
Chairman, Hunerkada

August 27 to September 5, 2012
Arts & Crafts Village
Shakarpariyan, Islamabad

Submission Guidelines:
Date Extended to August 17, 2012

The last date of entry is 17th of this month but send work earlier if you can to assure entry into the profile catalog.

National and International Artists Invited
Send us pictures of your works in high resolution PLUS artists’ profile pictures with brief statements about their art.

Entry fee is Rs.2000 only for Pakistan, $100 for foreigners. Indians are exampt from this fee.
25% will be added to the price of their works for sales.
Those who can’t send originals can send us printable pics of their works. we will take photo prints and frame them properly.
Send/Deliver works at
HunerKada College
F10/3 H 217 Margallah Road
Islamabad

Inaugural ceremony on 27th this month at 5.00pm

For more information, contact
Mudasar Punnu
mudasar.aizaz@gmail.com
jugni_khair_vehar@yahoo.com
Cell: 03224030082 and 03364161408
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March 3 protest rallies against Shahbaz Bhatti murder

Faisalabad
11.00 am, from Catholic Church Railway Road to Press Club via NCJP
Hyderabad
11.00 am, at Miran Muhammad Shah Road near Press Club, via Movement for Peace and Tolerance (MPT) and Pakistan Peace Coalition (PPC)
Lahore
2.00 pm Simla Pahari to Charring Cross via Taimur Rahman
Islamabad: 5.00 pm, opposite Mr Books via Marvi Simed

More info: Citizens For Democracy
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Views of US Embassador on Pakistan‏

Robert Munter
US Ambassador to Pakistan
Islamabad, Pakistan

To: Under Secretary of State for South Asia
Department of State
Washington, DC

Date: December 31, 2010

Re: Pakistan the first quarter

Having been in Pakistan since October, I am forwarding a brief review of my first personal impressions.

1) View about America: Survey after survey has shown that the populace at large has very unfavorably views US government and policy. The perception in the corridors of power is very different. Given their propensities to focus on conspiracy theories most of them have a notion of US influence in Pakistan that far exceeds our real capabilities. Sometimes I feel as the “Governor General” from a bygone past caught in a historic time warp. From the highest office down to midlevel functionaries, perception becomes reality, when it comes to viewing US as the kingmaker. This mostly helps us in stacking the deck of cards in our favor but also works against us at times when diplomacy is seen as failing. The dilemma for our policy is incongruence between our objectives and the popular sentiment of the people in Pakistan. Changing this is not merely a matter of perception and has to be more than a public relations exercise. It will require a significant change in our strategic trajectory.

2) The Social divide: Having served in Iraq I have experienced the divide between the elites and the common citizen, which is quite typical of the Middle East and South Asian countries. In Pakistan however it takes unparalleled heights. My first private party at a key ministers residence, the opulent lifestyle was in full contrast to the plight of those serving us. White gloved waiters were standing with ashtrays so that the corpulent minister and guests could smoke their Cuban cigars at will, and with utmost disdain flicker the ash at random intervals to be caught by the gloved waiter with unsurpassed skill. Alcohol, which is, otherwise not in public display in this Islamic country was flowing from an open bar. Our hosts were shocked that most of the American guests did not drink. I was taken aback at the presence of so many blond Pakistani women, on inquiring was told by our bemused social secretary about the miracle of peroxide and modern hair coloring which seems to be the fashion statement of the day for well groomed (sic) modern Pakistani women. As we pulled out to leave, the sight of an army of drivers was something to behold, huddled in the frigid night until the wee hours, for the masters to terminate their fracas. Service is legitimate but this smacked of servitude, opprobrium reminiscent of attitudes of European aristocracy and our own experience with slavery.

3) Hypocrisy a new dimension: I was stunned to hear form a very senior political functionary about US interference in the internal affairs of the country. When pointed out that this interference could be curtailed if the Government of Pakistan would refuse to take Billions of Dollars in US aid annually, his response was that monies were for services rendered in the fighting terrorism. Purloin of developmental funds to support the prodigious lifestyle of the ruling elite seems to be the normative. This can be only rationalized as a self-entitled narcissism of a collective of people with a rapacious appetite to loot the country.

4) The common man: My contact has been limited but even with limited exposure they continue to amaze me. In abject poverty and mired in the maelstrom of illiteracy they display a dignity and authenticity that is in stark contrast to the capriciousness of the pseudo westernized elites. Hospitable to a fault and honest despite being in the vortex of poverty the common everyday people of Pakistan display great ingenuity to survive against formidable odds, a gristle of the soul, that must come from a past rooted in spiritual life of a different sort.

5) Democracy: In Pakistan democracy has taken a dimension that borders on mockery of true representative government. The elected representatives come almost exclusively for the elite and privileged class. Rather than representing the populace they are more like local regional ‘viceroys’ representing the federal government and their own vested interests in the regions. Most are in politics not with a sense of public service but more to maximize the opportunity to make money, which they do with total disdain. The mainstream political parties are oligarchies controlled by the founding patriarchs or their heirs. One wonders if this is the model, we seek to perpetuate? Given my background as a history professor I have my druthers.

6) Alchemy of change: The polarization in the society makes significant change likely in the near future but given the deficit of leadership and organization it is not inevitable. This situation is unlikely to be remedied in the short term. If such a leadership were to emerge then conflict between the polarized segments would likely ensue. Under these circumstances we will not be able to count on the Military as a stabilizing force. The Military though a disciplined and well led, is a egalitarian body with much of its leadership and rank coming from middle, lower middle and poor classes. Their support of any move to perpetuate the rule of the elite will be at their own peril. The current military leadership is unlikely to prop the existing structure if such a conflict was to occur and possibly may even be catalytic toward such change. This is in stark departure form the past.

Pakistan is a fascinating place the contradictions are glaring but the promise is great, ironically what may be good for Pakistan may at least in the short term not be good for furtherance of our policy goals. We need to take a long view and it may be worthwhile to cut our losses, uncouple from the ruling elite and align our self with popular grassroots sentiment in the country. This would change our perception in the short term and when change does come we, for a change, will be on the right side.

From Mumtaz Khan (SPN Newsletter)
www.icfpd.org
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Kishwar Naheed to Ahmad Faraz

Kishwar Naheed

An OPEN LETTER From Kishwar Naheed Looking back on a more than four-decade-old friendship with Ahmed Faraz, one of the best-known Urdu poets of Pakistan and of the sub-continent, now battling for his life in an American hospital.

KISHWAR NAHEED
24 Aug 08

Dear Faraz,
We met back in 1964, in the Peshawar office of Yousuf Lodhi (the great political cartoonist who died a few years ago). That night we talked about politics, literature and made small jokes about contemporary writers. That was the start of our friendship. You and my husband Yousuf Kamran grew closer. You were both too glamorous. I know the way girls used to write letters to the two of you. The phone was not common then. Yousuf was presenting PTV’s popular programmes such as “Sukhanwar” and “Dastan Go”. You were being introduced on TV as the Hero Poet. When a famous singer sang your ghazal “Yeh Alam Shouq Ka Dekha na Jai’, viewers still remember you looking like a shy adolescent, the singer with her ring-studded fingers, looking proud of her achievement. Yes, it was a small spark, which was quickly put to ashes by her mother.

Faraz, You were my colleague at the National Centre (a State-run cultural centre, now defunct). I was posted at Lahore and you at Peshawar. You opted for a transfer to Islamabad in 1974. Again, some love spark very intense, very absorbing. But despite being a majnoon, you were conscious that a writer has to be a person with status.

On one side, your popularity was speeding up after Dard Ashob, your second collection of poetry. On the other, you decided to build your own house. You were fortunate that poetry made you rich. As you often claimed, no other poet had been as lucky. You received the highest royalty ever paid to a poet for over 30 years. Your poems were bestsellers. You have roamed the world reciting your poetry, letting people from the crowd repeat lines. An old man enjoys your poetry in the same way as a teenaged girl or boy.

Sense of humour
Once, on the occasion of International Women’s Day, you and I were chief guests. After me, when you started reciting your poetry, the fiery Tahira Abdullah objected. We want poetry on women, she said. Abruptly, Faraz, you said “all my poetry is about women”. Your sense of humour is so remarkable that even eminent humorist Mushtaq Yousafi was impressed by your repartee and wit.

I can never forget 1977 for two reasons. One is the time you recited “Peshaawar Qatilo” (Professional Killers) at a function at Islamabad. Around 2.00 a.m., men in white clothes [I don’t know why they always come in white clothes] entered the house and threw you into an army jeep and drove off. After a few days we consulted with Abid Hasan Minto, the lawyer, and filed an appeal in the Lahore High Court, that for the last 15 days Faraz is missing.

Justice Zullah was in the chair; he ordered the army to produce Faraz in two days and asked me and Saif sahib to bring all the writers we could collect on that particular day. Nobody will believe, Faraz. Right from Qasmi Sahib, every writer of name was in the High Court that day. When I saw you, I screamed; so thin had you gone, so spoiled your complexion. You were brought in escorted by the army. The judge, judges could then still speak like that, asked you “why were you locked up, did you see some warrant?” When you said no, the judge, in a very angry voice, announced that Faraz may be freed immediately. The decision was presented before Gen. Ziaul Haq, who was army chief of Pakistan. It was June 27, 1977.

The General’s words
You remember, Faraz? The General spoke to you to convince you about how important it was to support Bhutto sahib. Less than two weeks later, the same General placed Pakistan under martial law on July 5, 1977. That is, of course, the other reason why 1977 is unforgettable.

Faraz, you told us that during your stay in Attock Fort, you were kept in a dark and dingy basement, where food was given to you in a thali, by a hand whose face you could not see.

During that crisis I talked to Begum Bhutto, as we came to know that your arrest had the approval of Bhutto sahib. She promised to talk to him. Next day when I again rang her, she too was angry; she said Bhutto sahib had said all of us were his supporters. So why had Faraz placed him in such a situation? All of us were perplexed, how to make Bhutto sahib agree to release you? With Masood Ashaar, I went to see Madame Noor Jehan, as she was your admirer. Also we knew that she was a close friend of the “Black Queen” (whose closeness to Bhutto sahib was known to every one). After a lot of discussion, Madame went to Karachi and persuaded Black Queen to request Bhutto sahib to order your release.

Faraz, In 1978, you were reciting your famous poem Muhasra at Karachi. Right there, in the middle of the night, you were made to get up and leave as you had been “exiled” from Karachi and Sindh with immediate effect. You were so dejected that you exiled yourself from the country, stayed with your brother for six years in London. When you returned from England and Fehmida Riaz came back from India, we celebrated with a function at Lahore. Again we were together, but the distribution of government jobs created a new horizon of relationships. You were appointed Chairman Academy of Letters, and Fehmida was made MD, National Book Foundation.

Remember you were earlier made Chairman of the same academy by its founder, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto? The urge for a job in the government remained in you until Pervez Musharraf got angry because you spoke against the Army and you and your luggage from the residence were thrown out like that of any low man. Despite protests by the press and writers, nothing happened.

Remember when we went together in the processions for restoration of judges 2007-08. Many junior but non-committed writers, following your instructions, joined the processions.

Faraz, You have had a tendency to create controversies about either yourself or about different issues. Remember you spoke against marriage and said this is also a sort of prostitution through a contract on paper. How many newspapers and fundamentalists spoke against you? Another controversy you started was about the Urdu language. You said Urdu is a dying language. The entire Muttahida Qaumi Movement (a party that represents Urdu speakers in Pakistan) and many writers got angry with you. You also spoke against the army but then changed your words saying “I am against the ruling junta, not against a sipahi”.

Internationally popular
You have been very popular internationally. You have hardly ever refused an invitation for a mushaira from anywhere in the world, but accept only on your own terms. You made writers conscious of getting royalty from the publishers; you made police crack down on illegal publishers. You made writers realize their self-respect. No one can accuse you of being a munafiq, a hypocrite. You have never been ashamed of your romances, never presented any excuse of your evening drink sessions.

Faraz, You have been the darling of singers, so much so that ghazals by others with the same name as you got popular. In all colleges, the girls who had never read poetry recited your couplets. Each one of them, even in Hijab, wanted your autographs. You, so conscious of your age, have never liked yourself to be called “Uncle”, especially by any women. You are Faraz Sahib for every one. But you did not object when my sons called you that. I, in turn, have been a darling aunty to your three sons and I have not seen any son so much fond of the father as your sons have been. But who is not fond of you and who will not remember you every evening with a glass in hand? Cheers my friend, your innings has never been without grace and glamour, and you are still our darling.

Love you,

From: www.hindu.com

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Inside Uddari Pages 2

The Punjabi Writers page at Uddari has been populated with Waris Shah Award winning writer of short fiction, Nadir Ali from Lahore; the winner of Massod Khadarposh Award and Waris Shah Award, Mansha Yaad from Islamabad; and, the recipient of many awards who was named by Khushwant Singh as ‘The Queen of Punjabi Literature’, Amrita Pritam from New Delhi.

Please do not wait to be asked, send information about yourself or other writers to Uddari for this page.

Kishwar Naheed: A Great Woman from the Punjab

Poet Kishwar Naheed, Urdu, Punjab

Kishwar Naheed

Kishwar Naheed is one of those few women who command a kind of respect for their work that continues on to transform into love at some point in one’s life. I have always felt indebted to Kishwar for the face of courage she continued to show as a poet and as a person amidst political turmoils, personal sorrows and social discriminations. From 1970’s in Lahore to 2007 in Islamabad, Kishwar has become stronger, more together, prettier, and even more of a direct person; and, like many Pakistan women, i can say that i have grown to love Kishwar Naheed.

Kishwar was born in Uttar Pardesh in India in 1940, and came to Lahore in the Punjab after the Partition of 1947. From that time on, Kishwar lived and worked in Lahore with some digressions into other cities, and after retirement settled in Islamabad in her cozy two bedroom apartment. Urdu is her mother tongue, and that is the language she basically worked in but her administration role/s at National Centre, National Council of the Arts, Urdu Board and other positions allowed her to develop literary communities that involved both Urdu, Punjabi and other language writers. Kishwar was married to Poet Yousuf Kamran, raised two sons with him as a working woman, and then continued to support her family after his death in the Eighties.

I can not tell you when i first saw Kishwar but i bet it was in the heat of the Seventies in Lahore where Kishwar had already emerged as a poet with two collections of Urdu poetry, ‘Lab-I goya’ in 1968 and ‘Benam musafat’ in 1971; and was the recipient of Adamjee Award for Literature in 1969. From the start, i admired the strength of her voice, poetic and otherwise, in dealing with a sexist social milieu that was geared to strike dissenting women hard.

By 1991, she had published six collections of Urdu poetry, many anthologies, biographies, translations, travelogues and textbooks for children. Later, she won Unesco prize for ‘Dais Dais Ki Kahanian’, a book of short stories for children, and the prestigious Sitara-e-Imtiaz for lifetime achievements.

Here are two of her poems ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ in English:

Yes
Kishwar Naheed

A delicate awareness of life
Dawned in the desolation of my body.
The deception of the shore’s indifference
And the futility of surging waves.
Every limb is asking:
Now tell us
If you know why a flower blossoms.
I laugh
And create a riot in the garden.

No
Kishwar Naheed

Selling mirrors
In the lap of hope’s mountain,
I was alone reaping losses.
I was tall like the Pleiades,
Was concerned with only me;
Lost in myself

Lonely,
Marching apart,
Self-absorbed,
Self-adoring,
Arrogant,
I hated the glow of yes.
Then, I killed myself,
Drank my blood,
Laughed.
People had never heard
Such frightening laughter.
(Poems translated by Baidar Bakht and Derek M. Cohen for ‘The Scream of an Illegitimate Voice’, Lahore 1991)

Resources on Kishwar:
Kishwar reads her poem ‘Hum gunahgar aurtaiN’ We Sinful Women
Her profile at the Library of Congress
Collection of Kishwar’s Urdu poems
Poems translated by Rukhsana Ahmed
Entry at the Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature
‘Kishwar Naheed Looks Back’ by Khalid Hasan

Kishwar-e-naheed Shaad Baad!
More on Kishwar Naheed