Daily Archives: May 27, 2009

Third attack in Lahore – terror regime continues unabated

It was the third attack in three months in or near Lahore, the capital of Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province. The bomb left a crater eight feet deep and a vista of flattened concrete and destruction. Dozens of vehicles were crumpled like paper and broken glass filled the street. The dark pink brick building of the Rescue 15 ambulance service collapsed and emergency workers dug through the debris to try to find survivors. Continue reading

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Dr Sarwar passes on

KARACHI, May 26: One of Karachi’s oldest general practitioners, well known physician and former student leader Dr Mohammad Sarwar passed away peacefully in his sleep at home early this morning, May 26 in Karachi, after a prolonged bout with cancer. He was 79.

A memorial meeting is scheduled at PMA House on Sunday, May 31 at 6.30 pm.

The funeral will proceed from his residence (F-25/D, Block 9, Clifton, Karachi) after Asar prayers at Masjid-e-Bab-e-Rehmat (main Gizri Road near Kausar Medicos/Submarine Chowk) on May 26. Continue reading

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Faraz: a man for all seasons

Irfan Javed recalls the work of a genius

Adjust Font Size The Friday Times The Friday Times

Ahmad Faraz (1931-2008)

Ahmad Faraz with Madam
Noor Jehan

Faraz at a Mushaira with guests

The poet with an admirer

There was once a knock on Faraz’s door. When he opened it, he saw that some maulvis were standing outside. One of them enquired from him, “Do you know the Kalimah?” Upon this, Faraz retorted, “Why, has it changed overnight?”

Kishwar Naheed has written that Faraz was as much obsessed with naukri as with poetry. Perhaps, it is too simplistic to worship great poets by placing them on a pedestal. Iqbal said that a poet is merely the proponent of a thought or a philosophy. It is binding only on a prophet to act exactly as he speaks

Istill remember that hazy dreamlike spring noon when I first met Ahmed Faraz. The venue of the encounter was the office of Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi located in the graceful colonial building of ‘Majlis-i-Taraqi-i-Adab’ nestled in the lush green old fashioned gardens of G.O.R.1, near The Mall, Lahore. I remember the vivacious mood of those who routinely gathered there, in what was also the informal office of the quarterly journal Funoon. I had gone there as usual to meet Qasmi Sahib, when just outside the heavy wooden door of his office, I heard bursts of metallic laughter frequently interspersed with short sentences. Reluctantly, I opened the door and saw a group of people sitting around Qasmi Sahib. His face was glowing with a radiant and affectionate smile. On catching sight of me, he tried to stand up to receive me. I dashed to his chair and clasped his hands to avoid the embarrassment of being given undue attention by a living legend.

Then he introduced me to the people who were gathered there. Among them, I immediately recognized Faraz Sahib who was sitting there with a mischievous smile on his face. After the usual pleasantries the chit chat resumed, and Faraz Sahib casually turned his attention to me, saying, “Ah so you work for the customs?” I nodded in the affirmative. On this he said, “I only have one complaint with the customs.” After a brief pause he continued, “They always sieze the bottles of liquor which I carry, on my return home.” Someone interrupted, “Faraz, why then do you declare them to the customs?” On this Faraz sighed, “My notoriety travels faster than I do. Whenever they see me at the airport coming back from a foreign trip they say, Aha look, Faraz is coming, and the culprit must be carrying his usual stock of whisky.” On this the gathering burst into laughter.

He continued. “Once Qasmi Sahib was suffering from a kidney stone. He went to various doctors for treatment. At last I suggested the ultimate cure. I recommended that he should drink at least six to seven litres of beer every day. The kidney stone wouldl automatically pass out of his body.”

On this, Qasmi Sahib, known to be a teetotaler, gave a slight smile and the topic was changed.

Before that meeting I had pictured Faraz to be a serious poet who was always immersed in romantic fantasies. I had thought of him as a typical self-consciously arrogant man with a smiling public face. But after many intimate encounters my views changed diametrically.

To me he now appeared to be a down-to-earth creative genius who was always bubbling with energy and wit. He was like a bottle of champagne waiting to burst. He was always restless; thinking of a witty remark while contemplating a poem, and also working on the latest stock market position with a part of him reminiscing about a beloved of yore.

Once when I appreciated one of his couplets, he confided to me, “I am much better at stocks than at poetry.”

His complex vibrant personality was always in constant transition. He changed his name twice. He was born as Syed Ahmed Shah in January 1931, near Kohat, then he adopted the poetic name of ‘Sharar Barqi’, to be ultimately replaced by Ahmed Faraz. Hailing from the home of the poet Syed Shah Burq, he had learnt the basics of the Persian poetic traditions well before maturity.

He was one of those fortunate ones who gain pre-eminence in the formative years of their lives. In the rough terrain of the frontier province such an incorrigibly romantic ‘Rose’ had never before blossomed. Soon the fragrance of his romantic poetry traversed from the rocky hills of the tribal areas to the serene mustard fields of the Punjab. His poems became immensely popular in the 1950s after the publication of his maiden book ‘Tanha Tanha’.

The nightingale from the land of Rahman Baba was singing a melodious song of love. Those were the days when hippies from the West roamed the ancient cities of Pakistan, and singers recited Heer Ranjha by the banks of the Ravi. On the one hand, in the rugged terrain of the frontier province young men danced the exquisite Khattak dance, and on the other hand sages performed dhamal at the mausoleum of Lal Shahbaz. Those were the days when lovers expressed their sentiments in poetry. Though it was not the golden age when ‘ Domnis’ (singers) sang ghazals of Ghalib and Momin at ‘Kothas’, yet still it was the age when poems were quoted in everyday conversation.

Faraz was not detached from the political dynamics of the country. He possessed the spirit of a rebel. He agitated against the rigid norms of society and the political status quo. Like many emancipated minds, though holding divergent views, he discovered a saviour in Bhutto Sahib. By that time, the careless young man who once used to ride a scooter and stop by the ‘Khokhas’ in Peshawar for paan had Continue reading


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Let’s Surp(Rise) the World Again!

Despite all the reigning chaos, anarchy and restlessness, there is no dearth of latent spirit of nationhood that simmers in the hearts and souls of the majority of the Pakistanis. No amount of exploitation_ social, economic, political or religious_, the designs to divide the nation into ethnic and sectarian groups or propaganda has so far been able to achieve the ultimate underlying ignoble objectives.

A lot of damage has been done. We stand divided, bruised and deeply fissured. As a nation, we have lost focus and are relegated to a bunch of unorganized and motley crowd devoid of all bonding, unity and interlocking. Tolerance, sense of brotherhood and mutual respect have become the hallmarks of the past and attributes of the earlier generations. Continue reading


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