SILENCE MEANS MORE BLOOD! Join CFD, Karachi, March 12/11

Raise your voice against

religious extremism

Please join the letter campaign to the President, the PM and the Chief Justice of Pakistan organized by the Citizens for Democracy on Saturday, 12th March, from 11am to 7pm opposite Park Towers, Karachi. If possible, bring some postage stamps. Even better, bring as many friends as you can.


Citizens For Democracy (CFD) is an umbrella group of over 75 organizations including professional groups, NGOs, trade unions, student unions, political parties and concerned individuals united against the turn towards extremism in our society. CFD calls upon all professional groups, NGOs, trade unions, student unions, and individuals to join hands in its peaceful campaigns.



Inauguration of Pak-India Peace Caravan now on Aug. 7

The Inauguration Ceremony of Pak-India Peace Caravan ‘Aman Ke Badhte Qadam’ that was scheduled to be held on Wednesday Aug. 4 at Karachi Arts Council, has been postponed ‘due to law and order situation in the city’.

According to the new schedule, the inauguration ceremony of the Peace Caravan would now be held at Karachi Press Club on Saturday August 7 at 5.00 pm.

All invitees are requested to attend the program according to the new schedule.

For more information, contact Shujauddin Qureshi
Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER)
Ph: +(92-21) 36351145-7
Fax: +(92-21) 36350345
Cell: +(92)300-3929788

Also view Endorse India Pakistan Peace Caravan

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‘Mumbai to Karachi’ India Pakistan Peace Caravan

A people-to-people peace initiative has begun with ‘Aman ke BaRhte Qadm’, an India Pakistan Peace Caravan planned for July-August 2010. This will be the second caravan organized for peace between the two countries, the first happened in 2005 from Delhi to Multan.

In a draft announcement, the organizers have noted the extreme religious agendas of fundamentalist forces on both sides of the border as divisive, and incorporates the 2007 demand of ‘Nuclear-Free, Visa-Free South Asia’. It demands from the governments of India and Pakistan to introduce less restrictive policies, and to strive for a resolution to Kashmir issue in accordance with the wishes of the people.

View details on endorsement

‘Aman ke BaRhte Qadm’ seeks organizational endorsements on the basis of the following Draft Announcement.

India-Pakistan Peace Caravan – Amn ke Badhte Qadam
‘Probably nowhere in the world are people of two countries as emotionally entwined as are the people of India and Pakistan, and yet there is an enmity thrust upon them. The cruel turn of the wheel of history resulted in political separation, leading to a blood-spattered migration of countless people on an unprecedented scale, severing of family ties, and deep scars that have left an indelible imprint on the collective consciousness of the two nations.
‘Post-Partition, our tumultuous history has been interspersed with four wars and loss of innumerable innocent lives. Kashmir continues to be a sore point in our relations, threatening to take the two countries on a course of self-destruction. Fundamentalist groups within the religious and political space of South Asia continue to ensure that the fires of animosity are kept alive and take a heavy toll on both sides.
‘Targets of violence and of an atmosphere of antagonism, common people on both sides of the border want peace, friendship and normal relations to be established between the two countries. The ruling elites of the two countries are usually suspicious of each other, but whenever the common people of India and Pakistan get to meet, all reservations they might have about each other collapse and warm emotions of mutual affinity surge forth, very much like people of the same family meeting each other after years of separation. Enmity, hatred and distance melt away, warmth and friendship take over. In spite of the geographical boundaries forced upon us by historical circumstances, our common customs and traditions endure – our language, our music, our food and cuisine, the very mode of living on both sides of the border leaves no scope for scepticism in terms of our shared values and issues of common concern. The people are divided by borders but their hearts are one
‘We feel that if real peace and friendship has to be established between the two countries, the initiative will have to be taken by the people themselves. Various such initiatives have been witnessed over the last many years, the Indo-Pakistan Delhi to Multan Peace March in 2005 being one of them. Sufi saints and poets sang the song of love. The indelible imprints of this deep-rooted tradition are enshrined in the hearts and souls of the populace on both sides of the border. In consonance with this tradition, the March started from the dargah of the Sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya in Delhi , and culminated at the shrine of saint Bahauddin Zakariya in Multan , taking the message of love and brotherhood to the towns, cities and villages of the two countries. Subsequent to that, widening the scope of the initiative, a ‘Nuclear-Free, Visa-Free South Asia Convention’ was held in Delhi in August 2005, and in Lahore in 2007. Attempts to make it an annual affair have met roadblocks, the biggest being the prevalent visa-passport regime between the two countries.
‘Sustained efforts at the grassroots are required to bring about a change in mindset at the governmental levels. The problems and challenges we face are common – poverty, unemployment, the onslaught of globalisation and economic liberalisation endangering our economies, the dire need to look to the sectors of health and education. A loosening and gradual removal of barriers of trade and commerce, increasing movement of people across borders is bound to benefit both the countries. Economically strong India and Pakistan can bring about an era of peace and prosperity for the whole of South Asia . A spirit of give and take, of mutual co-operation, of creating an environment of friendship and peace rather than of jingoistic nationalism can see the two countries moving apace on a path of progress and development.
‘The last few years have seen the two governments taking steps for peace but these have been slow and intermittent, blow hot-blow cold attempts rather than being steady, continuous and sustained. The felt need of renewed efforts to pressurize the governments to listen to the voice of the peace-loving peoples of the two countries now emboldens us to take up another joint people-to-people peace initiative – the Indo-Pakistan Peace Caravan, Amn ke Badhte Qadam, from Mumbai to Karachi. This Peace Caravan will provide an opportunity to the peace-loving people of both countries to give voice to their urge for peace and friendship, and help build an atmosphere that should ultimately persuade the two governments to listen to the voice of sanity.
‘In the course of this Peace Caravan, we seek the support of people on the following points :
1. The movement of people across the borders should be made easier. At present there are all sorts of restrictions on such movement, some of which are apparently ridiculous. We would like these restrictions to be removed, for the people on both sides of the border have an intimate attachment with each other. There exists an emotional bond between the two – very much unlike the sense of animosity and mistrust that is reflected in the attitudes of the two governments. Due regard should be given to the wishes and aspirations of the people by the two governments, and they should be allowed to freely and easily meet, and inter-act with each other. In fact, the visa-passport regime should be done away with.
2. India and Pakistan must establish unconditional friendship forthwith respecting the wishes of common people of both countries and then try to resolve the issues. A solution to all contentious issues between India and Pakistan should be found peacefully through mutual discussions around the table. These issues include the issue of Jammu and Kashmir (which, in our view, should be resolved by taking into consideration the wishes and aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir ), and the issue of terror-related activities on account of which the people of both countries are suffering.
3. India and Pakistan should dismantle their atomic-nuclear establishments at the earliest. Both countries should destroy landmines laid in the border areas and send their forces back to the barracks. We want that both countries should stop wasting their valuable resources in the name of defence-budget, and plan for these resources to be used for the eradication of poverty in the sub-continent. Those who are a part of the Peace Caravan believe that real security lies not in the piling of arms and ammunition but in building a relationship based on mutual trust and faith. Notwithstanding claims to the contrary, the fact is that underground landmines and nuclear bombs rather than causing damage to the ‘enemy’, only end up causing much greater harm to your own people. It would, therefore, not be inappropriate to call these weapons anti-people.
4. The two countries must end proxy and/or low intensity wars against each other forthwith and restrain their intelligence agencies from fomenting trouble across the border.
‘Peace and development are possible only in an environment of trust and mutual goodwill : this, indeed, is the message of this Peace Caravan. We very well understand that our aims and objectives cannot be achieved through just this effort. We also believe that this Peace Caravan is just one element in the many initiatives being taken up by the two peoples for Peace. Let us, then, join hands for the SUSTAINED creation and development of an environment of mutual trust, goodwill and peace between the two countries – indeed, peace in South Asia as a whole.’

Names of (some) endorsing organizations (April 20)
South Asia Partnership (SAP)
Labour Party
Peace Keepers
Democratic Commission for Human Development (DCHD)
Punjabi Khoj Ghar
Giyan Foundation
Uddari Weblog

View details on endorsement

Information provided by Diep at
Institute for peace and Secular studies
91-G johar Town Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
Ph 042-5219862/ 042-5219863
Mobile 0321-844-5072,0300-844-5072

Fauzia Rafique

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Feica Lost and Found?

No, no, this is NOT Feica!

There are numerous rumors about our Karachi-based Punjabi Cartoonist Feica as having been lost reminding us of our recently lost and found personality, Poet Afzal Saahir who also happens to work at radio Musst FM103. But just because Feica works at the same radio station does not mean that he is lost as well or that after getting lost he will be as findable as Saahir.

Such rumors have underlying implications that if Feica’s country is about to be lost or is a ‘lost cause’ than Feica is too. But this view remains unsupported by the facts on the ground. We all well know that half of Feica’s country already became lost in 1971 illuminating all the ‘lost-caused’ aspects of it where Feica at 15 was gearing up in Multan to fall in love for the first time.

We are not sure if he did but we do know that two years later he had appeared afflicted with cartoonism at the National College of Arts (NCA) in Lahore, and has not been reported lost since.

Yet in a place where people are continuously being made to disappear, it is hard to assume that someone wouldn’t but i assure you that Feica at least is not lost. He is drawing cartoons for Daily Dawn and living in Karachi, a city still considered to be one of the many ‘burning’ parts of Pakistan. Even so if you don’t want to take my word for it, view the cartoon at the beginning of this post, and the one at the end. Though none provide a definite address for him in Karachi, both indicate the obvious un-lostness of Feica because of his (authenticated*) signage dated April 29, 2009.


Pakistan: The Day of Birth to April 29, 2009

In the above ongoing scenario, Feica has pointedly placed himself beside an un-armed Single Mother and her two unarmed kids; but more dangerously, under the direct range of an agitated bird. As you can see, all this is taking place way below the popular international cinema scope featuring the Global Puppeteer with a Local Mover, and a Local/Global Shaker. All fully armed.

Indeed, it is a clean depiction of a messy situation that involves blood and explosives as the three armed parties fight each other and kill others to gain control over mineral-rich areas of Pakistan such as the North-Western Frontier Province or FATA/PATA, and Baluchistan. And if the urban educated families of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad are feeling attacked, it is because these three cities hold the key to all the treasures of the country.

In this situation, it may be best to look for our lost and about-to-be-lost treasured resources instead of putting our energies in finding a totally un-lost Feica.

If you agree with this suggestion, get back to us asap as we are ready to launch the search to find all the desired lost ideas, countries, languages, national treasures, and (at least some) people.

* Feica’s signature authenticated by Poet Mudasar (the other) Punnu .


As i was finishing this post, the news of another lost person being found had surfaced in digital format. Before we go on to reveal his identity, it is important to warn you that this person may have us stretch our carefully drawn boundaries. He falls in the category of a ‘person’ and yet can also be depicted as a ‘national treasure’ for the nation of Punjab because of the mammoth amount of work accomplished by him to gain-back a fast-loosing language, independent thinking and grounded literature.

Renowned Punjabi Poet, Writer and Archivist Ahmad Salim who was thought to be lost since Nov-Dec 2008, has been spotted today in London UK by Author/Photographer Amarjit Chandan.

Jeevay Ahmad Salim!!!

ahmad-saleem-london-04-may-09-photo-by-amarjit-chandanAhmad Salim, London May 4, 2009

Photo by Amarjit Chandan

Fauzia Rafique

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‘Straying with Ahmad Farāz’ by Amarjit Chandan

I did this interview in Punjabi with the Urdu poet Ahmad Farāz for my book Humsukhan – conversations with fellow writers which never saw the light of the day. Farāz used to be in London in transit to western Europe and North America where so many Pakistani political exiles had sought asylum and were leading reasonably easy life. Those were the optimistic days.

18 October 1985. When I meet Ahmad Farāz in a pub in Piccadilly London, we both talk of the news just in of hanging of a South African poet Benjamin Moloisi at the age of 30.

Switching on the tape recorder I ask Farāz: From where shall we start? He starts with a quote from his poem: Qalam surkhroo hai/ ki jo mai ne likha/ vohi aaj main hooN/ vohi aaj tu hai…My pen is placated/ I am what I have written/ I am still the same/ and you too haven’t changed.

Does that mean a poet is answerable to himself primarily; society and ideology come later. Farāz has also written: Merey qalam ka safar raigaaN na jayeyga…The journey of my pen shall not go in vain. He goes on in chaste Punjabi: ‘The journey which involves commitment and some noble cause is not in vain. You can’t get the reward in your life time. In South Africa Benjamin has been hanged to death. They can’t stop people’s unrest with such atrocities. People’s journey never goes in vain. Tears shed in blood or in ink are never lost for nothing.’

But the commitment with what? With the political movement or with the Party or with the ideology? Farāz being close to the PPP has to say: No man is isolated and no individual is important. His only strength lies in his thinking, which takes concrete shape in the form of the movement. You are in it in the front line or in the back seat. You get the feel of a vast multitude. Otherwise no individual is great for me, how great he may be. A poet is not confined to his own experiences; he recreates others’ experiences as well.

But no politician is honest; they keep on changing their colours. They have to. That’s the name of the game. To this Farāz replies: In spite of his simplicity and sincerity a poet knows where political leaders deviate.

Is it a necessity or sheer opportunism? ‘In fact a poet is always the leader. He is with the vanguard leadership and with the rank and file as well. He plays dual role at the same time. When there is something wrong, he’s followed by his inner voice. So there is no need to feel disheartened. One can be silent to observe, to recoup. But personally I have no guts to lead the movement.’

I did not know that Farāz did not write in his mother tongue Pashto. I don’t want to put him on the spot and instead ask him indirectly: whose language is Urdu in Pakistan? He does not like my ‘strange’ question but goes on: ‘Urhdu’ (he pronounces Urdu as Urhdu and the word likhari –writer– as Likharhi which sounds to me as Khilarhi – player) doesn’t belong to any specific region of Pakistan; it’s the language of some inhabitants of Karachi. What follows is what I really want to know: ‘My father Agha Barq was a Farsi poet. His friends who visited our house wrote in Urhdu and the girl I first met knew some romantic Urhdu couplets. I started writing couplets in Urhdu for her. I had to work in Karachi Radio where all the staff was from Lucknow and Delhi. I didn’t speak Urhdu well enough, but my written Urhdu wasn’t bad though. It can’t work in Pashto. Now it is quite hard to go back.’

Farāz defends the feudal poetic form ghazal thus: It is naïve to think in terms of nazm or ghazal. The bread is bread whether it is triangular or round-shaped. All the progressives have written ghazal. What’s the point being against the form? The fault doesn’t lie with the form but with the poet. Then why Josh Malihabadi didn’t write ghazal? Farāz answers: He was against it from a literary viewpoint. The ghazal is self-contradictory – the clichés are inherent in it e.g. sāqi, qafas, bulbul. That way it is just a formula. Bad poetry is written both in the nazm and ghazal forms. Josh and Noon Meem Rāshid were weak ghazalgos. The progressives gave a new life to ghazal. It had become stale. A genre loses its vitality, if it doesn’t get new blood. In ghazal you have to say all in just two lines. It didn’t suit Josh. He keeps on filling words in his nazms without any imagination. The poem doesn’t rise vertically. Faiz and Rāshid brought great themes in ghazal. It is not limited in itself, the poet makes it so. A good ghazalgo writes good nazms. No epic poem surpass this couplet by Ghalib: kahāN tammanna ka doosra qadam… It was Ghalib who wrote: Safeena chāheeye iss bahr-e-bekrāN ke liyey/ Beqadrey zaraf nahiN hai ye tungnāyey ghazal… [A vessel is needed in this endless ocean// the unbounded ocean cannot be contained within the narrow bounds of the ghazal. Interesting that bahr is used for both ocean and metre] and Punjabi is not that developed yet to reject any poetic form. You write in all the forms. One day a Mir will appear in Punjabi. (Majid Sadiqi’s Punjabi translation of Farāz is titled PartāN – Layers).

The people’s poet comes up with a sexist example: ‘Ride the ghazal like you ride a woman. Take up the reins in your hands. As the Prophet said: Your wives are a tilth (for you to cultivate). Go to your tilth as yee will.’

Then we travel a long way to Southall in west London where he is staying with his brother. The house is deserted though whiskey and later food appears mysteriously.

Now Farāz is a bit high and stands up abruptly to bring a framed colour picture showing him shaking hand with Faiz and a femme fatale is standing by Farāz. The picture makes me sad. I have never seen Faiz so old as he appears in the photo. Farāz says that it is the last photo taken of Faiz. Then he goes into its minute details. He is eager to talk about the woman. To change the subject I ask him whether he has written any sensual poetry. He recites his couplet: vo ik rāt guzar bhee chuki magar abb takk/visāl-e-yār kee lazzat se toot-ta hai badan…That night passed long time back/But my body still aches with the relish of my lover…and declares that he believes in the intensity of life. ‘Poetry is like manhood. Never separate the ethics of poetry from the beauty of life.’ Then he picks up the collected poems of Faiz and reads his Punjabi poem aloud: ajj rāt ikk rāt dee rāt jee ke/ asāN jug hazārāN jee kia e/ajj rāt amrit de jām vāNgu/ inhāN hoThāN ne yār nu pea liaa e. Living to the full just one night/I have lived a thousand years/I sipped the body of my lover with my lips/as if it was the goblet of nectar. He adds: you can’t find such sensuality in the whole of Urdu poetry. Faiz becomes his own māshook lover in his poetry: Subah hoyee to voh pehlu se uThā ākhir-e-shub/ vo jo ik umar se āyā nā gayā ākhir-e-shub. The dawn approached and the one who woke up lying next to me// Had not arrived/nor left me for ages.

I see some sense of estrangement and frustration in visāl –meeting with the lover– in Faiz’s poetry. Farāz doesn’t want to listen to me and starts talking again about that woman in the picture. Now he tells me that she is a Sikh and is an air hostess. I interrupt: Faiz or Farāz? He tells me: I won’t talk about my self. Then Faiz or Jalib?

‘Yes, on the one hand you talk to the people face to face. That way Dāman and Jalib are very close. On the other hand is Faiz – subtle, soft with new Farsi-tinged imagery. He is poets’ poet.’

Most of Urdu progressive poetry seems to be written by the same poet. It’s full of clichéd imagery – zulm, jaddojahad, dār-o-rasan, shaheed, khoon and zakham. Farāz himself is heavily influenced by Faiz and Sahir. Without dropping names I raise the question of evolving new imagery and style. He likes the idea and fully agrees with it. But, he says, ‘there is one problem – we can’t frog-jump. We like to continue the tradition because our readership is still uneducated.’ Is it?

About the sound of language, he says: ‘Urhdu’s beauty lies in its plasticity inherited from Farsi and softness of Hindi. No word is soft or crude. It all depends on its usage. A poet has got very few words in his stock. I was in prison for a while. After the release, I had search for words while talking to others. If you don’t converse, words tend to leave you. Words are birds, who don’t like to perch on dry trees.’ He confides: you can’t write every day. You feel drained after writing a poem. Faiz used to translate Iqbal during his dry periods to ‘keep his weapons in shape’. A ghazal can be written while sitting in a moving tonga, but a poem needs much more meditation!

Farāz has also written nātiā qalām. ‘If Faiz could write on a man like Suhravardy, why can’t I write on the Prophet?’

Then why was the Rasul against the poets? The poet gives comes up with this face saver: Because he said: it is those poets straying in evil, who follow them; sees thou not that they wander distracted in every valley? And that they say what they practise not?

Our conversation comes to an abrupt end which had started with the notion of poet’s commitment. We both are drunk. I switch off the recorder.

Translated from the original in Punjabi by the author. September 2008. The recording can be availed in the Sound Archive British Library

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More at Uddari

Information on AIDS Walk San Francisco, register now for July 20.

Amnesty International is presenting ‘Super Patriots and Morons’ in Vancouver, a political play banned in Zimbabwe. Written by Raisedon Baya and Leornard Matsashort, it was short-listed for the Freedom of Expression Award by Amnesty International UK. The Vancouver production of ‘Super Patriots and Morons’ is directed by Pasi Gunguwo, and features Jean Pierre, Carlos Joe Costa, Ezeadi, Patrick Onokwulu, Tendai Mpofu, Ruth Akefa Azu among others.

A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammad Hanif
A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammad Hanif
Meet London-based author Mohammad Hanif in Karachi and Lahore this week where he will present readings from his first novel ‘A Case of Exploding Mangoes’, a satire on General Zia ul Haq, the dearly departed conservative ruler of Pakistan.

Aitzaz Ahsan, one of the most prominent leaders of the movement for democratic rights in Pakistan, is coming to Amnesty International USA in Washington DC to speak about the issues emanating from the dismissal last year of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, and others. Ahsan has led the recently held Long March (June 9 from Karachi and Quetta to Sukkur-Multan-Lahore-Rawalpindi-Islamabad June 14) to demand the reinstatement of justices. More on the event in Washington DC.

At the same Page, find information about events happening in Vancouver tomorrow to celebrate the ongoing contributions and achievements of the First Nations and Aborignal Canadians at the National Aborignal Day, June 21.

View the new Photo Album page created today to display photos of cultural, art and literary events. It is a matter of pride for Uddari to begin it with the memory of a remarkable youth, Deepak Binning, who continues to create positive impacts on our communities in Vancouver. So, click over, and see some photos of the Ninth Deepak Binning Foundation Walk-a-Thon and West Coast BhangRa Festival held in Richmond earlier this month.

A Page for Zeeshan Sahil in RASRUNG, Jalandhar

An inspiring and beautiful page has been created this Sunday in Jalandhar for Karachi poet Zeeshan Sahil by the staff and volunteers of RASRUNG, the Sunday Magazine of Dainik Bhaskar . Thanks to Ajmal Kamal of Aaj for sending it over. View the Zeeshan Sahil Page (PDF):


For more information contact Geet Chaturvedi at
Editor (Magazines), Dainik Bhaskar
SCO 16, Puda Complex, Opp. Tehsil Complex
Ladowali Road, Jalandhar, PUNJAB India
Urdu Poetry
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