Home ยป Dabeer

Poetic resistance to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s murder

As a young student I obtained a tattered copy of ‘Khushboo ki Shahadat’ from an old bookstall in Lahore’s Urdu bazaar. This was the mock glasnost era of General Zia-ul-Haq when he had allowed a handpicked legislature to function under his authoritarian control as Chief of Army Staff. In those days we grew up with polarized notions such as democracy cannot function in Pakistan and thus dictatorships were essential; or that Bhutto was the greatest leader Pakistan had but he asked for his death at the hands of a tainted judiciary. Thus Bhutto was a mythical figure hated by Zia’s cronies, of which there was no shortage in that era, and loved by his “ignorant, treasonous, and misled supporters”.

So you can imagine that picking up a collection of poems regarding the death and martyrdom of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was not an easy feat for a confused middle class teenager. As I brought the book home and started to read the poems, my first impression was that of the deep commitment and bond the poets were sharing with their readers for a fallen hero who was not even accorded a decent burial in his village somewhere in the Sindh province. Of course this was also the province that resisted Zia valiantly and bitterly and continues to challenge his hypernationalism, which ironically was popularized by Mr Bhutto during his turbulent career. […]

The Battle of Karbala (Mir Anis)

Mir Anis is a classical master of Urdu poetry whose elegies on the struggles between Imam Hussain, prophet’s grandson and the usurper, callous monarch Yazid are immortal. Today is the 10th of Muharram signifying the epic Karbala battle and the martyrdom of Imam Hussain. The mourning for Hussain and his family is not complete without a reference to Anis and his peer Dabeer. Luckily I found a Marthiyaa of Anis, that has been translated into English David Matthews, published by Rupa Co. […]