Amateur theatre group from Pakistan tours USA with Partition stories

My article on Islamabad-based group Theatre Wallay’s theatre project ‘Dagh Dagh Ujala’ (This Stained Dawn), that toured the US recently, published in Scroll.in today – Partition retold: A Pakistani theatre group dramatises survivor stories to shatter myths. Below, the unabridged version filed on Oct. 26.

DaghDagh Ujala-Isbd

Scene from the play, Islamabad performance. Photo courtesy: Fizza Hasan

Beena Sarwar

An amateur theatre group in Pakistan has started its tour of the USA with a dramatisation of Partition stories based on interviews of Partition-survivors by group members.

The play’s title Dagh Dagh Ujala’ (This Stained Dawn) refers to the first words of the Urdu poem ‘Subh-e-Azadi’ (Dawn of Freedom) by the acclaimed poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Penned in 1947 on the eve of India’s Independence from British rule and its bloody partition, the poem is popular on both sides of the border. Continue reading

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The ‘Bulbul-e-Kashmir’ sings for Indo-Pak peace

This personal blog post is dedicated to an inspiring couple in Mumbai and to the editor who introduced us: May our tribe increase.

Enduring ties: Seema Sehgal at PIPFPD, Karachi, 2003, with me and my daughter Maha. Photo by Ved Bhasin.

I met Seema Sehgal in Karachi, in December 2003 at the 6th Joint Convention of the Pakistan India Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD). Ved Bhasin, the respected Editor of The Kashmir Times, Jammu, introduced us. “Seema,” he said, “is known as the Bulbul-e-Kashmir (Nightingale of Kashmir).”

Ved Bhasin: Shukriya

The petite and unassuming Mumbai-based ghazal singer from Jammu has none of the airs one might expect from a performer of her calibre. She is not only an amazing artist, but she also has a deep and abiding interest in Urdu poetry and in Indo-Pak peace. When relations plummeted between the two countries following the nuclear tests of May 1998, Seema dedicated her new album ‘Sarhad’ to peace between the India and Pakistan. Continue reading

Jashne Faiz – CFD Resolution

Karachi, you were wonderful tonight. Photo: Sabeen Mahmud

April 17: Karachi, you were wonderful tonight. Great event, attended by about 30,000 people. See the text of the resolution (long version as well as short version read out in the plenary) at the Citzens for Democracy blog.

Congratulations to the CFD team for making this happen. This is our Pakistan.

Personal Political: Faiz and ‘Anthems of Resistance’

Published in The News on Sunday yesterday: The power of ideas

Andy McCord responding to a question at the Faiz panel. Photo: Beena Sarwar


by Beena Sarwar

I am no great expert on Faiz but his poetry speaks to me, touches my heart just as much as it does every other liberal, progressive, secular-minded person I know. Perhaps his poetry, with its universal messages about truth and justice, sorrows and joys that are just simply human messages, also touches some hearts that are not progressive and secular.

There’s also a personal connection that was put in context last weekend at a discussion on Faiz at panel organised at the Left Forum (formerly the Socialist Scholars Conference that became an annual event starting in 1981). I was roped into moderating it after the original moderator David Barsamian, the well-known radio producer and journalist (and fluent Urdu speaker), couldn’t make it at the last minute. Continue reading

PWA 75th Anniversary: Fifth Progressive Writers Conference, Birmingham

5th Progressive Writers Conference – Birmingham: Celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Progressive Writers Association (PWA) – Progressive Writers Association UK in collaboration with South Asian Peoples Forum and Indian Workers Association cordially invites you to a public meeting to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Progressive Writers Association (PWA). Saturday, 18 September 2010…

Continue reading

A road show for peace; S. Balakrishnan: ‘Shatter stereotypes’

Below – introduction from the ‘aman ki asha‘ page in The News on Wed, March 4, and thoughts from S. Balakrishnan, Times of India’s chief of bureau in Mumbai who happened to be in Karachi at the time

A road show for peace

`Are you from India? Can I have your sign please?” was a question that those associated with the organisers often heard during the Aman ki Asha event at Park Towers, Karachi, last Sunday (Feb 28).

Asked why he wanted to meet Indians, one young man cradling a six-month old baby wrapped in pink, answered quietly, “”I want to ask them why they are being so hostile.”

Personal meetings rub the edge off hostility. As the poll conducted by the Jang Group and Times of India for Aman ki Asha in December 2009 underlines, the majority of people on both sides want peace. Being able to meet without the restrictions that currently mar travel between the two countries would help this process. Continue reading

Honouring Zaheer Kashmiri and the PWA

Dr Farrukh Gulzar, the progressive minded medical practitioner from Lahore who was the driving force behind the Reference for Dr M. Sarwar and the 1950s student movement on Aug 8, has now thrown his energies into helping organise a remembrance for the late poet Zaheer Kashmiri. Friends in Lahore, please do attend. Here is the invitation he sent:

Zaheer Kashmiri

Zaheer Kashmiri

AHL-E-DIL MILTAY NAHEENH, AHL-E-NAZAR MILTAY NAHEENH
ZULMAT-E-DAURANH MAI, KHURSHEED-E-SEHR MILTAY NAHEENH
–ZAHEER KASHMIRI

(Translation:
Gone are the sensitive hearts or insightful visionaries
In this oppressive darkness, no morning sun arises)

Remembering the life and works of the legendary Marxist, progressive poet and activist, a literary critic, and a strong influence of and upon
Progressive Writers Movement (Anjuman-e-Taraqi Pasand Musanafeen)

ZAHEER KASHMIRI

Hailing from Amritsar, Zaheer Kashmiri spent his life in Lahore, and was a very popular and respected figure in the liberal, progressive youth and seniors alike. When Faiz Ahmed Faiz headed the editorial board of ‘Sawera’ PWA’s monthly magazine devoted to socialist and progressive thought, the other board members included Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi and Zaheer Kashmiri. Please join his friends, family and followers to pay tribute to him at this occasion. His poetry and articles compiled in his book “Ishq-o-Inqilab” will be available for sale at discounted rates.

SEPTEMBER 9, 2009
ALHAMRA HALL NO 3, THE MALL, LAHORE
4-8 PM

SPEAKERS: HAMEED AKHTAR, ABID HASSAN MINTO, I. A. REHMAN, HUSSAIN MAJRUH, ASLAM GURDASPURI, SHOUKAT PEERZADA (BROTHER), MERAJ MUHAMMAD KHAN, RASHEED MISBAH, NASREEN ANJUM BHATTI, ARSHAD BUTT
POETRY: DR TAHIR SHABBIR
MUSICAL RENDERINGS: NASIR KHAN, MUHAMMAD JAWAD
MODERATORS: ABID HUSSAIN ABID, RASHEED MISBAH

ORGANISED BY:
PROGRESSIVE WRITERS ASSOCIATION (ANJUMAN-E-TARAQI PASAND MUSANAFEEN) PUNJAB
YOUTH VISION

HAMAINH KHABER HAI KAY HAM HAINH
CHIRAGH-E-AAKHIR-E-SHAB
HAMARAY BAAD ANDHERA NAHEENH
UJAAALA HAI!

— ZAHEER KASHMIRI

(translation:
We are acutely aware that
We are like flickering candles in the dying night
There is no gloomy dark after us
Only bright light will prevail)

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