Monthly Archives: February 2008

Aitzaz Gives Call for LAWYERS’ BLACK FLAG WEEK

Lahore: In a statement issued here from his residence, where he is detained, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, President Supreme Court Bar Association, said that a Long March scheduled for March 09 has been postponed to give Parliament time to restore the deposed judges. It has not been cancelled. The lawyers, he said, appreciated the concern of the Parliamentarians and the leadership of the political parties to permit Parliament to meet and take steps for the restoration of the judges in the first instance.

Aitzaz, however, said that two of the most unfortunate days in our history fell in the year 2007. On March 9, none other than the Chief Justice of Pakistan was arrested. On December 27 a much greater and far more enormous tragedy struck. The most important leader of the country Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was martyred. The nation continues to mourn her. Lawyers have decided to commemorate both days with sorrow.

Aitzaz said that presently March 9th to 16th would be commemorated as the BLACK FLAG WEEK in and outside Pakistan. Those opposing Musharraf and seeking the restoration of the deposed judges will fly “Black Flags” through out the week as per the following recommended programme: Continue reading

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ظفر اقبال کی غزل Zafar Iqbal’s new ghazal

We are posting a fresh ghazal composed by the eminent Urdu poet, Zafar Iqbal’s courtesy Tahir Aslam Gora –
یہاں سب سے الگ سب سے جدا ہونا تھا مجھ کو
مگر کیا ہو گیا ہوں، اور، کیا ہونا تھا مجھ کو

ابھی اک لہر تھی جس کو گزرنا تھا سروں سے
 ابھی اک لفظ تھا میں، اور، ادا ہونا تھا مجھ کو

Continue reading

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SPEECH NUMBER TWENTY-SEVEN – Kishwar Naheed

Contribution by Shaheen Sultan Dhanji

Kishwar Naheed was born in 1940 at Bulundshehr, she was educated at Punjab University. She is a leading woman poet in Urdu. Her book of poems, Streets, Sunshine and Doors, won wide acclaim. Kishwar Naheed writes in free verse and has translated poets such as Pablo Neruda into Urdu. She lives in Pakistan.

SPEECH NUMBER TWENTY-SEVEN

My voice is the voice of my city.
My voice is the voice of my age.
My voice will influence generations.
What do you think it is,
that you call my voice a clamour?
How can you call my voice
the voice of madness?
How can you think
the coming storm a mere illusion?

I am no prophet,
I only see today with open eyes.
Your barbaric acts
diffused like the stink of money,
you recline in the back seat
of your limousine
so that the harsh sunlight of poverty
will not destroy the surgical creation
that is your face.
Now you can remember each speech
by it’s number:
Speech number 10, To arouse the poor
Speech number 15, To create consciousness amongst women
Speech number 27, To advise the writers and intellectuals.

Voices, voices, voices –
What is a clamour?
A crescendo of conflicting sounds,
or waves of unconnected speeches?
Stones rolling down the hillside –
Throw a stone in a desert
and it sinks noiselessly in the sand.
But my voice is not a stone,
it is lightening;
after its flash everyone can hear the thunder.
Putting your hands to your ears
will not stop the storm.

Why should those who read about the weather
and make speeches
come to see the flowing gutters in the alley?
Sowing a little seed of revolution
in its season
will not create a forest of revolution.
You can buy red colour cheaply
but scarves stained with the red of blood
are not so easily bought.

If I am aware of all this,
why aren’t you?
I speak the truth.
I am no prophet,
I only see today with open eyes.
That is all.

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Filed under Literature, poetry, Urdu, Writers

The new political constellation

Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari and Asfandyar Wali join hands during a lunch hosted by Zardari to demonstrate their parliamentary strength here on Wednesday. afp

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Filed under Democracy, Elections, Pakistan

A model for our parliamentarians to follow

By Yasser Latif Hamdani
As we move towards another session of the National Assembly, elected after what have been described as landmark elections, it would not be out of place to remember and draw inspiration from the long and illustrious legislative career of Mr. Jinnah, Pakistan’s founding father, in the service of India’s people(s).  In this career you would find the staunchest denunciation of Emergency rule, martial law and government’s attempt to usurp the civil liberties of its populace. Given that in 2007 Pakistan slipped into the list of top 10 persecutors of religious and ethnic minorities,  it is all the more important to re-visit this vision.
Similarly the greatest tragedy of the subcontinent is that both India and Pakistan have chosen to selectively remember this great man, especially by choosing to ignore his politics prior to the Pakistan Movement. However if both India and Pakistan were to revisit Jinnah’s pre-1937 Indian nationalist career, we would find much to celebrate together, even if we continue to differ on his later role as the champion of Muslim separatism.Jinnah’s legislative career spanned over close to four decades, out of which 37 years were spent serving the cause of India’s progress. Most ironic was his very first election in 1910, where Congressman Jinnah, who was to one day lead Muslim League to hilt against the Congress, defeated the Muslim Leaguer Rafiuddin Ahmad from Bombay to successfully enter into the legislative council. Who could imagine then that this young Congressman barrister would one day end up becoming Muslim League’s most famous leader.Barely a month into the assembly, he took on Lord Minto by denouncing the “cruel and harsh treatment that is meted out to the Indians in Natal” in support of Mohandas Gandhi, who too was to become his principal foe in the future. When Lord Minto reprimanded him for using “harsh language”, he replied, “Well my Lord, I should feel inclined to use much harsher language.”

In 1912, Jinnah alienated many of his Muslim supporters by giving his wholehearted support to the Special Marriage Amendment Bill, which sought to provide mixed religion marriages legal protection. He argued that the bill would provide equality but he was opposed by many members on the grounds that the bill contravened the Koran. Undaunted Jinnah asked the law member who had opposed the bill if he “would deny that there is a certain class of educated and enlightened people who rightly think that a gravest injustice is done to them as long as liberty of conscience is held from them”.

Rubbishing the idea that Muslim sensibilities would be hurt, he asked: “Is this the first time in the history of legislation in this country that this Council has been called upon to override Musalman Law or modify it to suit the time? The Council has over ridden and modified the Musalman law in many respects.” It was the same year that he stood up to argue that universal elementary education ought to be “compulsory”. He declared unfettered by any opposition religious or otherwise:

When Section 295-A ( a much milder form of Blasphemy law that is on the Pakistani statute books today) was discussed in the Central Assembly in 1927, Jinnah declared: “I thoroughly endorse the principle, that while this measure  should aim at those undesirable persons who indulge in wanton vilification  or attack upon the religion of any particular class or upon the founders  and prophets of a religion, we must also secure this very important and  fundamental principle that those who are engaged in historical works,  those who are engaged in bona fide and honest criticisms of a religion,  shall be protected.”

“In no country has elementary education become universal without compulsion. Find the money; if necessary tax the people. But I shall be told that people are already taxed. I shall be told that we shall face great unpopularity, My answer is that we should do all this to improve the masses of this country to whom you owe a much greater duty than anyone else. My answer is that you should remove the reproach that is leveled against the British rule, that is, the neglect of elementary education. My answer is that it is the duty of every civilised government to educate masses, and if you have to face unpopularity, if you have to face certain amount of danger, face it boldly in the name of duty.” Continue reading

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six of one, or half a dozen of the other

a (hopefully non-contagious) rash of versificationings by kinkminos

to know i’m not

i can’t say why
i can’t say how
i can’t say who’s
behind me now
i can’t be held
responsible
for things i’m not
accountable
to who or why or where or what
it’s who i am i know
not who i’m not

●          ●          ●

dimetrically opposed

don’t drink of me twice
cos this once i just might Continue reading

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An open letter to Mr Aitzaz Ahsan

This was published in DAWN yesterday

By Raza Rumi

THAT you are principled, charismatic and right is beyond doubt. You have inspired the cynical, intelligentsia, revived a moribund civil society and awakened Pakistan’s traditionally de-politicised middle class.

This is something that history shall record gloriously – reminiscent of the way you re-invoked the essential attributes of ‘Indus man’ in your treatise on the pre-historic identity of Pakistan.

Today, all efforts to generate ‘positive’ results from Election 2008 have foundered; and there is a new parliament ready to be sworn in. The new National Assembly, reflecting the fractured polity, has one common thread – nearly two thirds of its members constitute or sympathise with what was known as the opposition before February 2008. This is a moment of reckoning and most concrete outcome of a decade long struggle initiated by your friend Mr Nawaz Sharif, your leader the late Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and your supporters in the middle class and urban democrats. The movement that followed the suspension of the Chief Justice in March 2007 was a culmination of public discontent that started way before. That you provided a shape and led it, is, your stellar contribution.

This is a historic moment that cannot be squandered or lost to the politics of personalities and individuals. Most Pakistanis are in awe of the dismissed Chief Justice for his strength of character, they have tremendous respect for the members of the bench who refused to succumb to the executive diktat following the imposition of emergency in November 2007. And above all, they are also tired of General Musharraf whose good intentions have only led to the proverbial hell of energy and food crises, rampant inflation and roaming suicide bombers. But this struggle just cannot be about getting rid of the president and reinstating the Chief Justice. That would be a belittling corollary of this fabulous episode in our recent history.

The representatives of the PPP, PML-N, ANP and bulk of like-minded independents are touching the magic number of two thirds in the new Assembly. If they are asked to settle a score with an individual and honour another few, history will not record it in kind terms.

Your call for a march towards Islamabad and the restoration of judges before Mar 9 is bound to polarise the fragile parliament, the political parties that have been beaten, poached, hounded with leaders assassinated or disqualified. It is a delicate juncture of our history and any division in the moderate political class or resort to historical bickering and blame-games will rock the system only to benefit the martial corridors of Islamabad’s Byzantine palaces and their traditional occupants.

This is why many citizens are worried and skeptical that nothing changes in the murky waters of Pakistani politics. Continue reading

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