Published in The Daily Times

Remembering Faiz and his Culture Policy of early 1970s

21 November 2010

Today is the 26th death anniversary of Faiz Ahmed Faiz whose life and works are national assets. Faiz was a torchbearer of the glorious traditions set by great Urdu poets such as Ghalib and Iqbal. Faiz distinguished himself as a proponent of a revolutionary vision, which blended the romance of classical Urdu poetry with the idealism of revolutionary struggles. Faiz’s political ideology provided modern Urdu verse an unprecedented political and romantic expression. Faiz brought Pakistan international acclaim and the world bestowed on him the highest honours, including the Lenin Peace Prize (1962). He has also left a corpus of essays, editorials and commentaries from his years in journalism. This body of work still needs to be fully assessed for its literary dimensions. Faiz’s literary career coincided with the emergence of Pakistan and its unfortunate history of political instability and militarisation, which isolated its majority Eastern wing and resulted in its break-up in 1971. His famous poem ‘Yeh Daagh Daagh Ujala’ remains an apt comment on the creation of a ‘moth-eaten’ Pakistan, which continues to grapple with issues of identity. The Pakistani state treated him shoddily as he remained under arrest for extended periods or in exile.

The decade of the 1970s witnessed a change when Bhutto appointed him as Chairman of the National Council of the Arts. Faiz authored (more…)