Red, White and Black

Faiz, the Pindi Conspiracy and Patriotism.
20 November, 2005, 9:42 pm
Filed under: Pakistan, Politics

Faiz Ahmed Faiz is regarded as most illustirous Urdu poet of the sub-continent after Iqbal and Ghalib. Somehow Faiz took more of the limelight than either of the two. For one, Faiz was the marxist, the revolutionary, the social worker and the poet. Wiki says very little on him:

Faiz was a member of the Anjuman Tarraqi Pasand Mussanafin-e-Hind (Progressive Writers’ Movement), and an avowed Marxist. In 1962 he was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize by the Soviet Union.

The website dedicated to Faiz shed a little more light:

Lecturer in English at M. A. O. College, Amritsar in 1935 and then at Hailey College of Commerce, Lahore. Joined the Army as Captain in 1942 and worked in the department of Public Relations in Delhi. Was promoted to the rank of Major in 1943, and Lieut. Colonel in 1944. Resigned from The Army in 1947 and returned to Lahore, where, in 1959 appointed as Secretary, Pakistan Arts Council and worked in that capacity till 1962

In March 9th, arrested under Safety Act and charged in the Rawalpindi Conspiracy case, and having borne the hardships of imprisonment for four years and one month in the jails of Sargodha, Montgomery (now Sahiwal) Hyderabad and Karachi, was released on April 2nd, 1955.

He passed away in 1984 and spent a lot of time in the jails. In Selected English Writings of Faiz he recounts some of his experiences. Shedding some light on the “Rawalpindi Conspiracy”, he writes:

At the end of 1950, I met an old friend of mine from the army who had been appointed Chief of General Staff, General Akbar Khan. I met him by chance in Murree, where I was holidaying for 10 days and he said to me, “Look, we people in the army, particularly we who fought in Kashmir are very disgruntled because this country is going to the dogs. We have made no constitution for four years, there is so much corruption, there is so much nepotism, no elections are being held… and there is no hope and we want to do something.?I said, “Do what?? He said, “Overthrow the government and we want to have a non-party government and have elections and a constitution…? and this that and the other. I said, “All right!? He said, “Well, we want your advice.? I said, “Well this is an army exercise, I can’t give you any advice.? He said, “Anyway, you come to our meeting and listen to my plan.?

Then in a very stupid way, I went to his meeting along with two civilian friends and we listened to this plan…This was discussed for about five or six hours and eventually — there were about 14 or 16 officers there — they decided after a good deal of discussion that it was not on, for the simple reason that there was no issue before the country on which you could mobilize the people. Secondly, suppose the plan was discovered before it went off. Besides, it was too risky. So it was decided that nothing should be done.

They got really jittery and by this time, I had forgotten all about it. Nothing had happened, you see, nothing was going to be done. Suddenly, one fine morning at about four o’clock, I found my house surrounded by soldiers. Somebody came up and said, “Come along.? I said, “What has happened?? He said, “You are under arrest.?For four months, I was in solitary confinement; I do not know what had happened until after four months. A special Act was passed by the Constituent Assembly; it was called the Rawalpindi Conspiracy Act. Then we were brought to trial, a secret trial under this Act, which was passed only for this particular case.

More interesting stuff comes later on…

So for eight years I returned to teaching and administration and then came back. In between there were two wars, the 1965 war with India and the 1971 war in Bangladesh. These two were difficult periods for me because I was under a great deal of pressure to write war songs, but I said, “Look here, I am not writing any war songs!? They said, “Well, why not? It is your patriotic duty.? I said, “Look, firstly, because I consider these wars to be a very wanton waste of precious lives and secondly, because I know that Pakistan is not going to get anything out of either this war or that war. I am not going to write any war songs.?

But I did write poems about both wars. In the first war, I wrote two poems, one was called “Black-out? and the theme was that it is autumn with the lights — physical lights — which have gone out, the light of reason has gone out, the light of love has gone out, and all the lights in the hearts of people have gone out. And the second poem was an elegy for a fallen soldier and his mother mourning for her son. This infuriated my patriotic friends even more.

Narrating both incidents, he raised interesting questions and this collection of his writings tops my reading list. I have just realised how preciously little I know about this guy! My only connection to him has always been bol ke lab azaad hain or Shoaib Hashmi! Time to change all that I guess.

You can read more of the excerpts here.


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

if you get e-stuff on Faiz, can you fwd them to me too?


Comment by morpheus

‘a very wanton waste of precious lives’ Faiz’s sentiments on war that have repeatedly been proven true!
I’d love to read more of his writings.

Comment by Id it is

Very interesting ! Thanx for enlightening me…

Comment by bablu

This article in Books and Authors was quite thoughtful. He is quite right about alot of things. More importantly, it is this monotone which has hit me, he talks about the time when he was jailed and used his time to write two books and then later on formed pakistan national council of arts, and another center on folk arts(?), and when the govt changed and he started living in karachi. Then he was pressured into writing war songs and then overseeing an orphanage. he really had the ability to work despite the adverse circumstances.
Hum daikhain gae…
Lazim hai kae hum bhi deikhain gae
woh din kae jiss ka wa’ada hai

Comment by madiha

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