by Dr. S. Akhtar Ehtisham
London: June 11, 2011 – It was a surprisingly large gathering, about 700 persons and started on time, well nearly on time, 2.30pm in stead of the announced 2 pm. The proceedings started with a Faiz ghazal, a skit based on Faiz Sahib’s famous ‘Hum bhi dekhein gae. Speeches, mercifully short followed.
I.A. Rahman, chairman of the Human rights Commission of Pakistan spoke about Faiz Sahib’s defiance of tyranny, oppression of faith and his elevation of peasants to near divine status.
Abid Hasan Minto, one of the pioneers of student movement in Pakistan Barrister, HR and political activist marveled at the affection Faiz commanded among the people of the third world and respected by the West as well.
He exhorted people to emulate Faiz and work against imperialism and globalization at the grass roots level. Imperialism was on a fast downhill track and bail outs of banks and corporations had not worked.
This was followed by a remarkably realistic skit about the life of Faiz Sahib behind bars. A young lady enacted the part of his wife Ellis, with two security guards in Pakistan uniform wieldingong sticks (Lathis) and a young man acting the part of Faiz, exhibiting anguish, grief and hope. At the end of the skit, daughters of Faiz Sahib presented a bouquet of flowers to the team.
Moneeza and Salima Hashmi spoke about their life with their father, how they missed him during his incarcerations and how they were inspired by his example.
Zia Mohiuddin stole the show. He recited ‘Hum jo tareek rahoan mein marae gyae‘ and told stories about Faiz sahib’s life in jail in his inimitable style.
Iftikhar Arif, Chairman of the Academy of letters had the difficult task of following the superb performance of Zia. He spoke about the life of Faiz in exile. Faiz regarded art as part of life and struggle. Faiz wrote about the struggles of Palestinians, on China, Russia Pakistan.
This was followed by several entrancing dances by Tehreema Mitha. After the dinner break, several speakers including Tariq Ali spoke about the life, times and ideas of Faiz. Song and dance sessions following the speeches were exhilarating.
Courtesy: Pakistani e-lists/ e-groups, June 12, 2011.