A tribute to Faiz’s ‘progressive’ spirit | Pakistan Today

A tribute to Faiz’s ‘progressive’ spirit

The spirit of Faiz was celebrated at the Faiz Amn Mela on Sunday at the Open Air Theatre, Bagh-i-Jinnah where people from different walks of life assembled to a gathering that included poetry, music, songs and dance.
Return to progressive spirit: On the 101st birthday of revolutionary poet, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, the organising of the Faiz Amn Mela was returned to progressive political parties by the Faiz Foundation after last years’ PTV-sponsored centennial celebrations were criticised for being devoid of Faiz’s message. Left-wing political parties including the Workers Party, Awami Party and Labour Party Pakistan, left-wing student organisations National Student Federation and Progressive Youth Front and social activism organisations including the Labour Education Foundation, Women Workers Help Line, National Trade Union Federation and Faiz Foundation were part of the Faiz Amn Mela committee.
The event was scheduled to include a mushaira and a musical afternoon. Students, activists, famous artists and writers joined working class participants in offering tribute to the poet that gave voice to the aspirations of Pakistan’s working class and progressive activists.
The event: The mela kicked off at 130pm with a mushaira in which progressive poets from around Pakistan recited their own and Faiz’s poetry to the applause of the audience. Dr Khalid Javaid Jan, Baba Najmi, Rabia Shehzadi, Inayat Shah, Nazir Qaisar and Kawal Feroz were amongst the poets that read out their work.
The poetry recital was followed by musical
performances of Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poetry that engaged the audience who danced and chanted slogans to each rhythm. Performing artists included Anayat Abid, Adeel Burki, Nida Faiz, Laal Band and Laliyan Group. Each singer paid tribute to the rich legacy of the poet of revolution and sang famous poems including mujh se pehli si muhabbat and hum daikhain ge.
Members of the Faiz family including Saleema Hashmi, Muneeza Hashmi and Dr Ali Hashmi were present on the occasion. Speaking on the occasion, Saleema Hashmi paid tribute to her father Faiz Ahmed Faiz. She read out Faiz’s famous poem, ‘Ye kon sakhi hain,’ written for the martyrs of the Irani revolution, and dedicated it to the Baloch martyrs and the Baloch missing persons. She also spoke about the weak financial situation her father suffered for his passion to serve the working classes. She said, “The legacy of Faiz belongs with you, the working class and those who struggle for it. It is you that keep Faiz’s work alive and relevant.”
Speaking after Adeel Burki’s uplifting performance, Labour Party spokesperson Farooq Tariq called for the audience to observe a minutes silence for the 20 killed women workers in the Kharak factory collapse a week earlier. After the silence was over, Farooq said, “The mela is dedicated to the factory workers that lost their lives. Faiz’s legacy is for them. Faiz’s words urge on workers to struggle against the oppression.” He said that the mela was also dedicated to the Baloch people and condemned the killing of Baloch ministers Domki’s wife and sister in Karachi. He said that the the mela calls for an end to the military operation in Balochistan. He also called for the release of jailed working class leaders of the Labour Qaumi Movement in Faisalabad and Progressive Youth Front activist Baba Jaan in Gilgit Baltistan.
The function last performance was a traditional Pakthun dance performance by Pakthunkhwa Student Organisation (PSO) activists who had come to attend the mela from Quetta. After which the Faiz Amn Mela Committee took to the stage and chanted, “Mazdoor ka Faiz, zinda hai! Kisaan ka Faiz, zinda hai!” (“The Faiz of workers is alive! The Faiz of farmers is alive!”)
The message: Talking to Pakistan Today¸ audience member Khadija Zahir said, “I came to the mela to remember Faiz, who is my favourite poet.” She said that Faiz’s choice to write about the working class and injustice showed his farsightedness as a poet. She said, “The principles for the progress of Pakistan lies in Faiz’s writings.”
Stalls were placed outside the Open Air Theatre where Faiz’s books and other progressive books were available. Stalls had also been set up by the National Student Federation and Labour Party to disseminate literature amongst visitors. Another stall set up by Institute of Peace and Secular Studies (IPSS) activists was able to collect 350 signatures on a petition to relax Pakistan India visa policy and promote the cause of peace.
The organising committee thanked the Faiz family for their support and commitment to progressive causes and for keeping alive Faiz’s legacy for Pakistan’s working class.

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