Faiz Ahmed Faiz the versatile eulogised | Pakistan Today

Faiz Ahmed Faiz the versatile eulogised

Speakers at the second day of the three-day international conference on Faiz Ahmed Faiz on Wednesday eulogised various roles of the great poet, including a staunch trade unionist, a versatile columnist and editor of two newspapers, supporter of the downtrodden workers particularly fisherfolk and an activist for world peace.
The speakers were presenting their papers at the conference, jointly organised by the Pakistan Studies Centre, University of Karachi; the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research and the Jinnah Medical and Dental College. On the second day two paper-reading sessions were held at JMDC Bahadurabad campus.
The third session of the second day contained performance by ‘Daastan Go’ group from India (Mahmood Farooqui and Danish Hussain) and a dance performance by Sheema Kermani group was staged at the Arts Council of Pakistan. A delegation of literary figures, poets and performers from India are also participating in the conference. Gauhar Raza, Sohail Hashmi, Mahmood ur Rahman Farooqui, Murtaza Danish Hussain, Dr Khalid Ashraf and Prof Ali Ahmed Fatimi, are part of the delegation.
“Faiz had a special affection for the downtrodden people of Lyari and he chose to be posted as the principal of Abdullah College in the area because he wanted to serve the people of this fisherfolk locality,” said Shaukat Hussain of the Karachi Fishermen Cooperative Society during the second session.
The session was presided over by Prof Ali Ahmed Fatimi, former chairperson of Urdu Department, Allahabad University, India and conducted by Dr Jafar Ahmed of Pakistan Study Centre, University of Karachi.
Recalling services rendered by Faiz for the cause of fisherfolk, Shaukat said that Faiz had not only supported the trade union of the Fishermen Cooperative Society, but also persuaded its elected directors to provide scholarships to Lyari students.
Faiz had practically used his international influence to get detained Pakistani fisherfolk released from Indian jails. At that time, no nongovernmental organisation was working and the Pakistani and Indian fisherfolk were languishing in the jails of both the countries for many years.
The fisherfolk forced the government to make Faiz a director of the Karachi Fishermen Cooperative Society because of his love for the fishing communities, he added.
“Once the Fishermen Cooperative Society sent Faiz to India and provided him an amount of Rs 5,000 for airfare and other expenses. He succeeded in getting Pakistani fisherfolk released and on his return, refunded the entire amount to the society by saying that the government had provided him air tickets and the friends in India provided him food, so he has saved the money,” recalled Shaukat.
Senior trade unionist Ahmed Saleem gave an overview of the Faiz’s struggle for workers and oppressed people. He said Faiz was always emphasising the need for creating political awareness among workers. Faiz took active part in the trade union movements before and after the partition of the Indian subcontinent. Faiz started taking part in the trade union activities in Amritsar where he also conducted study circles for creating awareness among the working class.
Faiz also played an important role in creation of many trade unions like Tanga Union, Postal Union, Railway Union and Mint Workers Union. Faiz was also instrumental in the creation of Pakistan Trade Union Federation, which was joined by about 100 unions including his own. Faiz was elected as the first vice president of the federation.
Saleem pointed out that Faiz was against imperialism and practically struggled for the rights of people. He supported people in Spain’s civil war and at the time of the Second World War when Nazi armies attacked Soviet Union, Faiz stood up against Nazism. He joined the British Army to practically fight against anti-people Nazi forces. When the war ended, he left the army as brigadier and again joined the Education Department at meagre salary.
Executive director of PILER, Karamat Ali said that Faiz was the only true revolutionary in the subcontinent. He read out excerpts of the speech by Faiz on the occasion of the Lenin Peace Award. He said that Faiz was a great preacher of the world peace. He pointed out that despite abject poverty, illiteracy and militancy in India and Pakistan, both countries are in the race of making more and more nuclear weapons and missiles.
“More than half of the total poor population of the world is living in India and Pakistan,” he said. “Despite the poverty, a very low amount is spent on human development. Effective literacy rate in both India and Pakistan is less than 50 percent,” he added.
Every year, the Pakistan government cuts its Public Sector Development Programme funds to increase its military budget. This also happens in India.
Ali demanded that arms race should be stopped in South Asia. “Both India and Pakistan should sign a “no-war pact” and announce a phased reduction in the military budgets,” he said.
“Both countries should reduce the number of their military personnel. Pakistan does not have boats to rescue its people from floods, but it is busy in making missiles and arms,” he added.
Gohar Raza, a scholar from India gave a historic perspective of the Indian people’s love for science and said the people of India and Pakistan have a scientific temperament for centuries. He said the first science laboratory was established in Lahore in 1942. The people of the Indian subcontinent have always been anti-imperialist and that is why they are supporting non-aligned movement. He said that the electronic media has brought a revolution in our lives. However, he expressed pessimism that due to the mushroom growth of TV channels, ethnic and sectarianism tendencies are increasing. “Religious clerks daily appear on almost all channels and many of these groups even have their own TV channels,” he added.
Earlier during the morning session, the speakers read out their papers on the literary services of Faiz. Veteran journalist Mahmood Shaam presided over the session. In his observations, Shaam said that Faiz was against the class system. He read out some excerpts from Faiz’s prose.
Prof Sahar Ansari gave an overview of the poetic translations by Faiz. His poetic translations of other poets into Urdu were even much more appropriate than the actual poetry. Dr Uzma Farman read out a paper on “Ishq” in the poetry of Faiz. Mazhar Jamil gave an overview of Faiz’s understanding of Mirza Ghalib’s poetry. Columnist Anwaar Ahsan Siddiqui read out his paper written for the children about the poetry and life of Faiz.
Like the first day of the conference, the proceedings of the second day were started with recitation of the poetry of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai by the faqeers of the saint’s shrine. The last day’s session and the closing ceremony of the conference would be held at the Arts Council of Pakistan on Thursday (today).

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