Dr Afzal Mirza

Location: Baltimore, Maryland, United States

Studied in Govt. College, Lahore, Punjab University,Peshawar University & Zagreb University(Croatia). Started writing when in 7th class. Wrote prose & poetry,Have published writings in almost every Pakistani Urdu & English magazine and newspaper,held important positions in many literary and professional organizations. worked as a teacher, research scientist and industrial management professional, In the words of Arthur Miller I have always felt as being temporary. That is why there was no significant achievement.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


.Wattenberg with his books

Dr Afzal Mirza
In the downtown Baltimore on Vineyard Street there is a gray single-storey structure that reminds you of a storage house. Above its closed door hangs a simple hand-written placard saying ”The Book Thing of Baltimore.” The place remains closed on other week days except on Saturdays and Sundays. On these two days the whole space in front of the building bustles with cars and other visitors. There are people bringing boxes full of books to donate and others who carry away books –each book stamped with the notice” Not for Resale. THIS IS A FREE BOOK.” Watching from outside one could hardly discern that the barrack-like building carries more than 250000 books and all donated. It is a fairly congested area where majority of middle class people live. Most of them are blacks but perhaps they are the people who deserve such a facility most. America has an excellent library system. You have a central library in every county and then there are branches in smaller towns. The Baltimore city has a central county library too and a number of other libraries including the famous Pratt Library. The membership of these libraries is free. I remember that when after acquiring membership of Baltimore County Library I asked the desk clerk how many books could I borrow at one time. To my astonishment she replied smilingly, “As many as you could carry.” Beside these libraries there are hundreds of libraries in educational institutions. But the novel idea of Book Thing was conceived in a beer bar where Russell Wattenberg worked as a bar tender.
A native of Brooklyn (New York) Wattenberg was passing through Baltimore when he stopped to fill petrol in his car. He liked the atmosphere so much that he decided to stay here for good. Back in New York his parents spent weekends buying and selling stuff at flea markets and once in junior high school young Russell got in trouble for selling candy in the cafeteria. Going through his parents’ house in upstate New York after his father untimely death in 1994, Wattenberg found the left- over things of the old man’s career as a salesperson: two 5-gallon buckets of DDT; enough liquor to stock a small store; cases of pens, pencils, and other school supplies; and 3,000 three-ring binders. But soon he realized that such a small store and these items wouldn’t generate enough money to make his both ends meet. So he also started buying and selling items in flea markets till his chance encounter with Baltimore, the beautiful harbor town of Maryland.
Wattenberg then in his mid-twenties moved to Baltimore in October ‘95 and got a job tending bar at Dougherty’s Pub in Mount Vernon. On Friday afternoons, a group of teachers gathered regularly at the bar and griped about the shortage of libraries in city schools. (According to Baltimore City Public School System officials, only one-third of the city’s 180 public schools have functional libraries open daily and operated by librarians.) Moved by their stories, Wattenberg emptied his tip jar one day and went garage-sale shopping, returning with nearly 300 used books. The next time the teachers came in for a beer, he tossed them the keys to his van and told them to take what they wanted. When once asked why did he use his own money to buy books for other people? “It is my passion because I love to read. They have always been around in my life. It is something very comforting and empowering, having the books around,” Mr. Wattenberg replied. The teachers were thrilled, and the used-book shopping became a habit. By the spring of 1998 Wattenberg was making trips to poorer neighborhoods on his days off, laying out trays of books on a corner and hollering “Free books!” to passersby. After renting a basement space near his home in 1999 Wattenberg gave up bartending and founded the non-profit Book Thing of Baltimore. Soon other people heard about what he was doing and started bringing him books, hundreds of thousands of books. He began distributing them to the public from his basement apartment.
Then the whole neighborhood got involved. Volunteers built bookshelves to house the books. Neighbors raised funds to pay Wattenberg a small salary, so that he could stop working extra jobs. Last year he shifted to the present independent premises. The “Book Thing” grew, as if by magic. Folks with unwanted books learned that Wattenberg would take them. Literacy programs would call to see if he could help.
Assisted by a group of volunteers Wattenberg has arranged the books in proper shelves under appropriate headings. Inside you will find stacks of books, shelves of books, boxes of books, about 250,000 books in all, arranged in general categories. The biggest section is that of books on fiction which is lodged in the main larger room Then in the smaller rooms there are books on history, politics, languages, travel and textbooks of medicine, engineering and finance. The whole interior has a modest décor. There is no air conditioning and there are simple cemented floors and simple shelves. Almost everything is donated. You can carry as many books you like but you have only to enter the number of books you are taking in the register kept near the entrance door. In the course of the typical weekend, according to Wattenberg the Book Thing gives away about 10,000 books, and takes in about the same amount. He believes that people deserve and need books, whatever their background.. Actually, his motivation is less complex. Says Wattenberg: “It makes me feel good.” Some people asked him if he would ever consider charging for his books—a dime, or even a penny—Wattenberg is emphatic. “Never,” he says. “That would ruin everything.” All I’m doing is taking books people don’t want and giving them to people that want ‘em,” says the beefy, bearded Wattenberg ( in his mid thirties now) in the accent of his native Brooklyn, N.Y. “Everybody says, ‘What’s the catch? What do I have to sign? What’s the suggested donation?’ The hardest thing is to convince people the books are really free.” (End)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Book Review

Book: The World is Flat
(A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century)
Author: Thomas L. Friedman
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux New York
Pages: 488 Price: $ 27.50

Dr Afzal Mirza
This best selling book has been written by Thomas L. Friedman a foreign affairs columnist of The New York Times. He has already authored three best selling books namely From Beirut to Jerusalem (1989),The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization (1999) and Attitudes: Exploring the World After September 11 (2002). This is his yet another book on globalization and as usual by inserting lot of statistics and anecdotes from his personal interviews with a large number of people he met during his travels as a journalist Friedman has produced a commercially successful best seller. The proof of its success lies in the fact that it is on the bestsellers charts for the last 20 weeks and is being profusely quoted here and there. Highlighting the present trend of outsourcing in America Friedman has developed a couple of theories on globalization that sound interesting. The first theory is that The World is Flat and that is also the title of the book that attracts many readers for the book. What does he mean by the flatness of the world? He says that when Columbus sailed in three ships with a crew of three hundred people in search of India he accidentally discovered America. India was a great source of attraction for him because of its gold and spices and other exotic goods. On his return he reported to the King and Queen of Spain that the world was round. When Friedman undertook his journey to India he traveled with a small crew of photographers of Discovery Times .When he returned from India he reported to his wife that world was flat.
Friedman led his crew to Bangalore to visit the operations of an Indian company called Infosys. From downtown Bangalore when he drove through the pockmarked road with sacred cows, motor- rickshaws and horse-driven carts all jostling along to arrive at the facility he found a different world inside. “A massive resort-size swimming pool nestles amid boulders and manicured lawns adjacent to a huge putting green. There are multiple restaurants and a fabulous health club. Glass and steel buildings seem to sprout up like weeds each week.” A visit by the crew to the global conferencing center there found a massive screen on the wall—the biggest digital TV screen Friedman had ever seen. On that screen he was told that tele-conferencing could be carried out with people from Boston, New York, London, Sam Francisco all alive simultaneously. Above the screen there were eight big clocks each showing time of different zones of the world from US East/ West to GMT, Japan, Singapore Australia and Hong Kong. The boss of the facility Nilekani told Friedman,”Tom, the playing field is being leveled.” He meant that countries like India now compete in the field of globalization. According to the author what that man was saying was that the playing field was being flattened. “Flattened? Flattened? My God he‘s telling me the world is flat.”
What was going on inside that facility was indeed amazing. Friedman tells that the companies of America have outsourced much of their work to this Bangalore facility. If you have rented a car from Avis in America say in Chicago the bills are processed from Bangalore. The bills of General Electric for American consumers are prepared and issued from India. You travel by Delta Airlines or any other American airlines and if you have any lost baggage problem it is traced from Bangalore. Friedman describes how in his hotel room he was visited by a young Indian asking him if he could assign his personal income tax returns preparation to him. ”But I work in USA and receive my salary there,” Friedman tells the young man. “No problem, sir,” replies the young man ,” we are already doing it for hundreds of Americans here in India.” Then he goes on to tell the author that many small and medium sized tax consulting companies have already outsourced their work to Indians because it is much cheaper here to process it. What they do is, he explains, they assign a fictitious name to the customer and pass on his income details to them which Indian accountants process and send back the income tax statements for submission to American Revenue Service after just changing back the original name on the statement. Friedman writes,” In 2003 some 25000 US tax returns were done in India. In 2004 the number was 100,000. In 2005 it is expected to be 400,000. In a decade you will assume that your accountant has outsourced the basic preparation of your tax returns---if not more. It is interesting to know that there are 25000 people sitting in a building in Bangalore and a majority of them are making promotional calls for various products and customer service in US.

Friedman has written about an interesting discussion he had with an Indian company boss. When he asked the him far could they go in outsourcing ? For instance you can’t outsource the serving of a steak or giving a hair cut. The man replies,” But we are coming close to exporting a haircut, the appointment part. What kind of haircut do you want? Which barber do you want? All those things can and will be done by a call center far away. “His next program?. He had been talking to an Israeli company that is making some big advances in compression technology to allow for easier and better transfer of CAT Scans via the internet so you can quickly get a second opinion from a doctor half a world away. Later Friedman came to know from a John Hopkins Hospital researcher that in many small and medium sized hospitals in US radiologists are outsourcing reading of CAT scans to doctors in India and Australia. The advantage is that it is day time in India and Australia while it is night in US so after- hours coverage becomes possible. Friedman is a journalist and after listening to this outsourcing in other sectors he thought of journalism too and he talked to Tom Glocer the boss of Reuters .He was informed that “ with 2300 journalists around the world in 197 bureaus catering for a market including newspapers, investment bankers, stock brokers, radio, television and Internet outlets Reuters has a complex audience.” About trying to practice outsourcing in Reuters Glocer told Friedman, “ So the first thing we did was hire six reporters in Bangalore as an experiment. We said, ’let’s let them just do the flash headlines and the tables and whatever else we can let them to do in Bangalore. India is an unbelievably rich place to recruit people with not only technical skills but alsos financial skills.’” Thanks to outsourcing Glocer has cut the entire Reuters staff by roughly a quarter.

Broadly speaking Friedman has divided the history of globalization in three eras. The first lasted from 1492 when Columbus set sails for America to 1800. He calls it Globalization: 1.The key agent of change during this era was how much muscles you had. That means how much horse power, wind power or steam power you had. The second era Globalization 2 lasted roughly from 1800 to 2000 interrupted by the Great Depression and World Wars I and II. This shrank the world from medium size to small size. He thinks that driving force during this era were multinational companies. The multinationals went global for markets and labor spear- headed by joint stock companies and industrial revolution. The world shrank because of faster means of communication and computers. Globalization 3 is shrinking the world from small size to tiny size leveling the competition field or flattening the globe. And the main instrument of this age is not hardware but software that empowers individuals. The role of individuals and companies in the present era Friedman discusses in his theory called The Dell Theory of Conflict Prevention. He explains how it would work. He says that in the course of his work for this book he met Michael Dell the CEO of Dell computers. He found out that the company sells 140000 to 150000 computers every day. Now as you receive an order with your specific requirements the whole machinery comes in to action. The company has six factories around the world—in Ireland, China, Brazil, Tennessee, Texas and Malaysia. The specific order given by Friedman was designed in Texas. There are thirty main components of a computer and each one is produced in dozens of factories in different parts of the world. For example the microprocessor comes either from Intel factories in Philippines, China, Costa Rica or Malaysia. Its memory comes from Taiwan, Korea or Germany etc. etc. These are just two out of thirty components but there are still 28 components that are procured from hundreds of factories located around the world. The criterion for location of these facilities is nothing but the peaceful and stable environments as well as stable political systems prevailing in those countries. Thus India is one such country because of its consistent democratic tradition. One can understand why Pakistan is not there.
According to the author the biggest test case of Dell theory is China versus Taiwan where during the last elections “motherboards won over motherland” but the theory is already proven in case of India and Pakistan. When in 2002 India and Pakistan were positioned against each other and there was a global panic that the two old adversaries armed with nuclear weapons might come to the point of collision then it was the Bangalore top executives who prevailed upon the prime minister Vajpayee not to indulge in such a venture which would ruin the fast developing economy of India. Because in that eventuality the US and European companies would withdraw the outsourcing and India’s economy would collapse. Friedman thinks that the conflict was not prevented by the intervention of United Nations or any political power but the interdependency of economic interests of the countries prompted by the expediencies of Globalization 3. (End)

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Haneef Ramay


Dr Afzal Mirza

When in 1967 Zulfikar Ali Bhutto launched Pakistan Peoples Party at a gathering of like-minded people it was not just a coincidence that majority of them were intellectuals. They were quite different from the later crop of the politicians that emerged after 1985 elections who were mainly from feudal class or businessmen and other nova riche upstarts. The reason was that the political parties boycotted the elections and genuine politicians did not contest the elections.In spite of his feudal background ZAB had an intellectual streak in him. His Oxford days friend Prof Rashid Badshah used to tell me that Bhutto was a voracious reader. So among that group in 1967 one could find those who used to participate in heated political and academic discussions at different forums and were determined to change the exploitative system of the country. Haneef Ramay happened to be an important member of that group. I had first seen him in Government College Lahore where he was a little senior to us and was doing masters in economics. In early 1950s GC could rightly boast of a number of students who later rose to prominence in different walks of life in the country. Ramay’s contemporaries were Muzaffar Ali Syed, Ghalib Ahmad, Javed Shahin, Mahmud Salim Jillani (now Dr M.S.Jillani) Shahzad Ahmad, Dr Mahbubulhaq and others who were all boarders of the new hostel where the famous poet and academician Sufi Ghulam Mustafa Tabassum was the superintendent. The atmosphere was thus most congenial for literary and artistic activity. Ramay a thin lean. an introvert and shy person at that stage did not show any interest in the college union activities and college politics but loved to paint and participate in the literary gatherings of the college as a back bencher.

After his masters he joined the family publishing business and used to embellish the books published by Maktaba-e-Jadid with his calligraphic designs. During those days his company published two beautifully Ramay designed books of poetry authored by Majid Amjad and Akhtarul Iman. He was also involved in Company’s literary quarterly magazine Savera and to him goes the credit of introducing famous novelist Abdullah Hussain to the literary world. As the story goes Abdullah Hussain whose real name is Mohammad Khan wrote his novel while working as a shift chemist in Daudkhal Cement Factory and brought it to him for publication. Ramay suggested to him to change his name to Abdullah Hussain as Mohammad Khan would not attract the readers and before publishing the novel he published some of his short stories and novellas in Savera under his new pen name to prepare the ground for publication of Udas Naslein. His plan worked and Abdullah Hussain is one of the country’s important writers. As after the take over of Progressive Papers Ltd by Ayub government the circulation of Lail-o-Nahar was dwindling Ramay took the right decision of starting a weekly magazine Nusrat. As against the original Lail-o-Nahar Ramay’s magazine was apolitical with emphasis on literary writings of all schools of thought. Ramay as portrayed by some writers was never a supporter of progressive writers’ movement. He was more inclined towards religion and spirituality which can be seen from his later writings in his books Dubb-e-Akbar, Islam ki Roohani Qadrein, Maut Nahin Zindagi and his only English novel Again. It seems that at a later stage he drew inspiration from his teacher Safdar Mir who was experimenting in metaphysical thought after delving deep into Marxism. So his magazine Nusrat started publishing articles on religious issues written by the writers who espoused for Ijtihad and bringing Islam in line with modern day requirements. Among them one could find Ghulam Ahmad Parvez, Safdar Mir, Ghulam Jillani Barq, Prof Muhammad Usman, Fateh Muhammad Malik and others. It was during that period that I met him for the first time in his small office on Macleod Road. I was accompanied by Prof Tahir Farooq .I had written a few poems and a translation of Alberto Moravia for Nusrat and Ramay was happy that I came to see him. He had a pleasant personality. Being artist he grew long hair and interestingly he never changed his disposition even after becoming the chief executive of the provincial government. Incidentally my old College friend Javed Shaheen was also working in Nusrat those days. Both Ramay and Javed Shaheen entertained us to tea and discussed the current literary situation including a few of my contributions to the magazine.

Ramay’s involvement in political affairs began in 1964 when Ayub Khan contested elections against Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah. As we remember it was a tough competition and ruling circles were greatly scared of the popularity of Miss Jinnah. The ruling party appointed ZAB as its general secretary and Ramay joined its publicity wing and I believe that not only Ramay’s company made some money out of it he also came closer to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. In 1970 elections therefore ZAB made him in-charge of the publicity wing of PPP and he discharged his job with great success. Ramay’s Nusrat which was hitherto apolitical suddenly became a political magazine and its enormous popularity led Bhutto to make Ramay as the editor of daily Musawat. When Bhutto’s manifesto of socialism came under fire from the rightists and ruling circles it was Ramay who gave it the name of Islamic Socialism and wrote forceful articles in its support. These articles and writings of some other writers were later published in the book entitled Islamic Socialism edited by Haneef Ramay. After the dismemberment of Pakistan when PPP formed the governments in the left-over country Ramay served as finance minister and chief minister of Punjab. His appointment as chief minister of Pakistan ‘s feudal dominated biggest province where thus far only politicians of feudal background had assumed this office was indeed unprecedented . Unlike other Punjab politicians Ramay came from a middle class background. Their family had migrated to Lahore from a small village near Shiekhupura a small town a few hours’ distance from Lahore. As expected his tenure therefore did not last long and soon he had to part ways with his party and its chief. His fault was that he espoused the cause of the ordinary people of Punjab. Unfortunately his political career took him away from literature but as chief minister he made it a point to initiate some of the development projects related to art and literature. Among these the building of Arts Council designed by Nayyar Ali Dada is a living testimony to his devotion to art. Whenever free from his other obligations he would also participate in literary functions. I remember that only once I met him in passing when he was in power. He had come to preside over the launching ceremony of Mahmood Shaam’s book entitled Cardiospasm. It goes to his credit that in spite of his heavy duties he made it a point to chair the function of his old literary friend.

Falling from grace cost him heavily. He had to undergo incarceration and that too in Lahore Fort‘s infamous interrogation center. He was released when the government changed. Ziaulhaq like all military dictators wanted to elicit the support of all those who were victimized by the previous government and for a while Ramay did think of supporting the dictator . Those days he and Shaheen Ramay came to an exclusive dinner at my brother in law Dr Salman Siddiqi’s house and we talked about the current political situation . He was upset with what happened to him but soon regained his poise and gave up the idea of supporting the martial law regime because it was against the principles he stood for. During that period he took some decisions that he would later on regret. To participate in the elections called by Zia which were then called off by him Ramay formed Musawat Party. Soon he realized that a politician with middle class background and scarcity of funds can not run a political party and he merged it into Jatoi’s National Peoples Party. When the elections were postponed indefinitely he chose to go into exile in USA. There he ran a gas station and concentrated on calligraphy and worked on a novel in English . When political activities were resumed in Pakistan he returned to Pakistan and rejoined Peoples Party. During the second tenure of Benazir Bhutto he contested elections from Lahore and won a seat in the provincial assembly. He was then elected as speaker of the Punjab Assembly.

As speaker and later when Farooq Leghari dissolved the assemblies he resumed his public activities holding exhibitions of his calligraphic paintings and speaking at functions. Disgusted with another dictatorship in the country he shifted to America again and was living in Florida with his second wife Joyce for the last few years. His English novel Again was published by Xlibris Corporation USA in 2000. The novel as its flap indicates is, “An elegant vision of the regeneration of our global human family, symbolized by Adamian, Second Adam. He is sent to the first Adam to obtain the essential human experience on which to rebuild a more loving, joyous and hopeful world.” He recently returned to Pakistan for a short stay but slipped and fell in his son’s home just a day before his departure for USA. Perhaps the fate wanted him to be buried in the soil of his native land. Ramay was a down to earth person. Last time I met him when he was waiting in a queue to enter the hall in Lahore where Naom Chomsky had come to speak. He had no pretensions of being a former speaker, governor or a chief minister. He was the same thin lean and tall person but his long thick hair had gone gray and there were wrinkles of years on his face. It never occurred to me that I am meeting him for the last time.(End)

Thursday, January 05, 2006



Dr Afzal Mirza

There seems to exist a strange relationship between exile and incarceration. In the foreword to Faiz’s second book of verses inspired by incarceration entitled Zindan Nama Major Ishaq wrote, ”The jail is like a magical mirror where the images of character and not faces appear in strange dimensions…The reason is that the person’s whole world gets confined into the four walls of the jail which creates in him a feeling of despondency… …Under such conditions it is no wonder that one can not maintain ones usual personality traits. But one must appreciate those people who can keep their poise even then.” According to Major Ishaq Faiz Ahmad Faiz was one such balanced personality. In the same way some one living in exile leaves his familiar cultural and literary environment and goes to live in an alien ambience totally different from his own. One of Faiz’s ghazals of exile days begins with the verses:

Sharh-e-firaq-o-madh-e-lab-e-mushkbu karein

Ghurbat kade mein kis se teri guftgu karein

Yar ashna nahin koi takrain kis se jam

Kis dilruba ke naam peh khali subu karein

These two verses of this ghazal describe the poet’s utter sense of frustration over being lonely and without any friends who knew his beloved or with whom he could talk about his beloved. Such a situation could be counterproductive for those poets who thrive on the spontaneous appreciation and encouragement and are devoid of a mission and ideology. It has been observed that many poets either cease to write or write very scarcely under the changed circumstances. But Faiz’s was a different phenomenon and we find that the flow of muse did not stop with his various stints of exile.

The history of exile is as old as the history of mankind. Writers and poets have throughout the history been forced by various reasons to leave their homelands and move to strange lands. Sometimes they went into exile to oppose the established order from outside because it became impossible for them to wage their struggle from inside the country. There were some other writers who left their homelands because they didn’t enjoy the intellectual freedom in their own country. There is a long list of celebrated writers who abandoned their sweet homes and undertook the travesties of exile and among them one could count writers like Ovid, Dante, Miguel de Unamuno, Rafael Alberti, Yannis Ritsos, Pablo Neruda, Thomas Mann, Heinrich Mann, Stefan Zweig, Witold Gombrowicz, Ivan Bunin, Hermann Broch, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Vladimir Nabokov, Bertolt Brecht, Saint-John Perse, Anna Seghers, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Sadik Hidayet, Nâzim Hikmet, Mahmud Dervis, Adonis and Milan Kundera. There were some other writers like James Joyce, Robert Musil, Rainer Maria Rilke, Ernest Hemingway, Henry Miller, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, Gertrude Stein, T.S. Eliot, e.e. cummings, Cavafis, and Lawrence Durrell who willfully went into exile.

Talking of Faiz one finds that there are two periods in his life which could be called periods of exile. Those periods are 1962-64 and then 1978 to 1982.

To find reasons for his long sojourns abroad one has to look into the factors that prompted him to leave the country. Faiz was an ideologically motivated person. From the day one he aligned himself with the progressives and although he never became a card-carrying member of the communist party he had his sympathies with Soviet version of socialism. The very first poem that he wrote after the partition entitled Dawn of Freedom landed him in trouble with rightist forces and he was condemned by the rightist press for writing such an “unpatriotic” poem. In 1951 he was arrested in connection with the so-called Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case. Faiz and all the Rawalpindi case accused were freed in 1954. Ayub took the reins of the government in October 1958 and all the leftists including Faiz were arrested within two months of the imposition of martial law. Then Faiz had just returned from an Afro-Asian Writers Conference held in Tashkent and was not quite keen in going into exile. The Russian translator of his poetry Aleksander Surkov recorded his conversation with Faiz in Tashkent in these words, ”Then incidentally our conversation turned towards politics .’So what are your future plans? ’Faiz looked towards me with deep black eyes full of sadness but there was still smile on his lips. ’Just this that first I’ll go to London. There I’ll see some of my friends who had left Pakistan recently. Obviously after this I’ll go to Karachi. Lahore-- that is to my country.’ ‘But you know now there is…’ A feeble smile was still floating on his lips .’In that case I must go back to my country.’ ‘So then imprisonment is sure..’ ‘Perhaps…But for a high mission one must not hesitate to go to jail.’ ‘And if there is some place worse than that ?.’ The poet glanced out of window where a statue of Tolstoy was standing in the middle of the lawn, looked at the cold and autumn smitten sky. The smile was still there. After a while he said in his usual style,’ If there is some thing worse than jail then it will be bad but you know a struggle is after all a struggle.’”

So the Faiz returned and was as expected arrested and spent some time in the infamous Lahore Fort.. He was released in April 1959 and in the mean time the Pakistan Time of which he was the chief editor had also been expropriated. Being jobless he took a low-key job of the Secretary Lahore Arts Council. In 1962 Faiz was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize for which he was allowed to go to Moscow. After receiving the award he spent some time in globetrotting. A significant output of that period was his interesting travelogue of Cuba where he went as a special guest of Fidel Castro. Having reached London at the end of his travels he decided to stay there in exile. Although he had a number of friends and admirers in London and he was also joined by his family members he felt as fish out of water. He missed his country which he named as the ‘forest of yellow leaves.”

During his first period of exile Faiz doesn’t seem to be prolific and the few of the poems that he wrote are present in his fourth collection of poetry called Dast-e-tah-e-sang (TheHand Under the Stone).However he wrote some prose also.. It appears that the political situation of the country was too disturbing for this sensitive person. The most moving poem of this period was Khusha Zamanat-e-gham written in London in which he salutes his motherland and wishes well to “ all those who live in lightless dwellings and sleep on the dust .“ He wrote:

Har aik kushta-e-nahaq ki khamshi peh salam

Har aik deeda-e-purnam ki aab-o-taab ki khair

(I salute all those who are silent in the face of injustice and wish well to those whose eyes are filled with gleaming tears)

The second period of Faiz’s exile begins in 1978. It happened after Ziaulhaq had imposed martial law in the country and dismissed the democratically elected government of Z.A.Bhutto. Faiz had worked with Bhutto as his adviser on cultural affairs and was a well known progressive. The new regime was using religion as their political tool to win favor of the masses. Under the circumstances there was an imminent chance of Faiz’s arrest. The poet discussed it with his wife Alys and they decided to leave the country. Faiz spent this period in Beirut where he was asked to edit Lotus the journal of Afro- Asian writers. One wonders why Faiz chose to live in a civil war torn city where bomb explosions and shelling were order of the day and one had to live a life on razor’s edge. His wife Alys also spent some time with her husband and used to tell friends that Faiz would always show his characteristic calmness even when the shells rained all around.. Faiz’s poetry written during this exile is collected in a short book entitled Mere Dil Mere Musafir. The book begins with this short but beautiful poem Dil-e-Man Musafir-e-Man:

Mere dil mere musafir

Hua phir se hukm sadir

Keh watan badar hon ham tum

Dein gali gali sadaen

Karein rukh nagar nagar ka

(My heart—the traveler/Again there are orders/That you and I go into exile/ Shouting in every street/ And moving from city to city)

There is an impact of sadness on his poems given in this book. All the poems are reflection of the agony felt by the poet due to the political conditions of the country. Teen Awazein, Yeh matim-e-waqt ki gharri hae , Ham to majboor-e-wafa hain have been written in the same mood. There are some poems written on the Palestinians’ ongoing struggle fro the emancipation of their homeland. The same trend continues in some of the poems of that period in his last book Ghubar-e-ayyam.

Faiz was the type who couldn’t live away from his country for long. Each moment of exile was in fact very heavy for him and to the surprise of his friends and admirers he decided to return to Pakistan in 1982. Why he chose to return at that time is not clear. When he returned in 1964 then Ayub’s glory was on the wane and some semblance of democracy had been restored. In 1982 Zia was still firmly in saddle and democracy was a distant cry. It is said that his Rawalpindi Conspiracy case co-accused Col. Arbab Niaz was instrumental in his return. Strangely enough this communism sympathizer had taken a U-turn and was Zia’s minister. He arranged a meeting between Zia and Faiz. No one knows what transpired in that meeting but Agha Nasir of TV fame has written in his book Gumshuda Loag that,”Arbab Sahib told me later that his(Faiz’s) meeting with Zia was very brief. He told Faiz ,’You are a valuable asset of our country .Why do you live outside the country? There is no restriction on your living in Pakistan.’ Then Faiz said ’I know there is no restriction on my living here but I want that I may be allowed to leave the country whenever I like.’ Gen. Zia said,’ yes that will be so,’ and the meeting ended,’ With that ended the second self-exile of Faiz Only a year and a half later Faiz Ahmad Faiz left for a never-ending exile. (End)

Faiz died on 20th November 1984