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Faiz Ahmad Faiz: The poet who never died

Faiz Ahmad Faiz: The poet who never died

Ammaar Butt
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sab qatl ho ke tere muqābil se aa.e haiñ
ham log surḳh-rū haiñ ki manzil se aa.e haiñ
sham-e-nazar ḳhayāl ke anjum jigar ke daaġh
jitne charāġh haiñ tirī mahfil se aa.e haiñ

Faiz Ahmad Faiz is the most reputed and popular poet of the subcontinent. His poetry has lived after him and served as a reminder of him. His progressive vision and blunt cry for freedom has been admired by many of the admirers of his time and his admirers of now.

Among other accolades, Faiz was nominated for Nobel Prize in Literature and won the Lenin Peace Prize. He was one of the most celebrated writers of the Urdu language in Pakistan. Outside literature, he has been described as “a man of outstanding wisdom” having been a teacher, an army officer, a journalist, a trade unionist and a broadcaster.

Faiz Ahmad Faiz was born into a Tataley Jat family in Punjab, India and went to Government College and oriental college. He then went on to serve the British Indian Army, after Pakistan’s independence, he became the editor of The Pakistan Times and leader of the communist party before being arrested in 1951.

He served imprisonment for four years after which he joined The Progressive Writers Movement.

Faiz was a well-known communist in the country and had been long associated with the Communist Party of Pakistan, which he founded in 1947 along with Marxist Sajjad Zaheer and Jalaludin Abdur Rahim. Faiz had his first exposure to socialism and communism before the independence of State of Pakistan which he thought was consistent with his progressive thinking.

His work remains influential in Pakistan literature and arts. Faiz’s literary work was posthumously publicly honoured when the Pakistan Government conferred upon him the nation’s highest civil award, Nishan-e-Imtiaz, in 1990.

Faiz Ahmed Faiz lives after his death through his poetry. His poetry still speaks to and for the progressives of this country. His work “Bol” was recently chanted in a Progressive Students Protest on Mall Road, Lahore. It ignited and inspired the students to fight for their rights and to not stay silent against oppression. Many writers looked up to his work and many writers still do. He is regarded as one of the most prolific poets of Pakistan.

bol ki lab āzād haiñ tere
bol zabāñ ab tak terī hai

jism o zabāñ kī maut se pahle
bol ki sach zinda hai ab tak
bol jo kuchh kahnā hai kah le

In 1965, Faiz was first brought to government by the charismatic democratic socialist Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who was tenuring as Foreign minister in the presidency of Ayub Khan.

Faiz also served as an honorary capacity at the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MoIB) working to rallying the people of West-Pakistan to fight against India to defend their motherland.

During the 1971 Winter war, Faiz rallied to mobilise the people, writing patriotic poems and songs that opposed the bloodshed during separation of Bangladesh from Pakistan.

In 1972, Prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto brought him back when Bhutto appointed Faiz as Culture adviser at the Ministry of Culture (MoCul) and the Ministry of Education (MoEd). Faiz continued serving in Bhutto’s government until 1974 when he took retirement from the government assignments.

Faiz Ahmed Faiz still lives within his words, his ideology and struggle for freedom still speak to us. His exquisite and untethered commentary and mockery to the system manifests from the injustices the people of this country have had to go through.

Faiz’s work, political ideology, and poetry became immortal, and he is often called the “greatest poet” of Pakistan.

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