By Faiz Aman Mela Committee
On 18 February 2018, On the occasion of 107th birthday of Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Faiz Aman Mela held at Open Air Theater, Laurence Garden, Lahore. It was organised by Faiz Aman Mela Committee, in collaboration with Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign (PTUDC), Awami Workers Party (AWP), Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Party, Faiz Foundation Trust, Barabri Party, Women Action Forum (WAF), Faiz Foundation Trust, Progressive Students Collective, and Peoples Solidarity Forum. It was the most successful Mela since 1986.
The festival was attended by a large number of diversified audiences, including members of progressive political parties, workers and students organizations and their families. The open-air theatre was packed to capacity and participants could also be seen outside the theatre on different stalls set up by the political parties. The political workers kept busy distributing their pamphlets on their party agenda and manifesto among the audience. The stall of The Struggle Publications attracted many participants and sold Books and Papers. Mela was dedicated to the Struggle of Munnoo Bhai and Asma Jahangir.
The event comprised of different sessions including ‘The Left Wing Politics in Current Era’, ‘Poetry’ and Theater and Performances’. The political session presented some of the contemporary issues into public notice.
In the First session, Dr Sarah Sohail discussed the condition of women in the capitalist economic system. She said the women had been commodified in capitalism and it did not create a relation between men and women but made women a commodity for men. Dr Ammar Ali Jan said the current political system had raised several problems, including the question of nationalism, and it could not be solved without addressing the class question.
Lal Khan of the PTUDC discussed Left-wing politics in the current era and highlighted the miseries of the poor. He said the country was going through a judicial martial law and the human rights activist Asma Jahangir was a strong voice against it. He said the masses had been told that Faiz Ahmad Faiz was a poet, intellectual and rights activist but no one focused on his identity as a communist.
“Faiz had joined the British army on the recommendations of the Communist Party of India and the state had arrested Faiz not for his poetry but for his political activities.” Lal Khan said the class struggle would continue in a society which had different classes and democracy could not be achieved in these types of societies.
Saleha Rauf, Haider Butt, Urooj Orangzaib and Barabri Party Pakistan chairman singer Jawad Ahmed also spoke on the student politics and upcoming elections.
The second session was all about poetry and it was conducted by Dr Khalid Javed Jan who also recited couplets by Faiz. The prominent poets who participated in the sitting included Dr Nazir Qiaser, Baba Najmi, Anees Ahmed, Anjum Saleemi, Afzal Sahir, Tanvir Shahid, Sabir Ali Sabir, Iffat Alvi, Irfan Ali, Shafeeq Ahmad Shafeeq, Jawaz Jeffery, Sara, Anis Ahmad, Dr Kanwel Feroz and Azmat Malik and others recited their radical poetry.
The festival also witnessed two stage performances. One of them was by the Progressive Students Collective. It highlighted the ban on student politics in the educational institutions and how the students were forced to remain silent on national and international issues. The other performance was by Imran Nafees and his team which highlighted silence of society in the face of oppression. Sheema Kermani came all the ways from Karachi with her team and performed some of her best of Faiz through classical dance.
The third session was conducted by Dr Ashraf Nizami and participants included journalist Imtiaz Alam, Abid Saqi and Gulnar of the Women’s Action Forum. Gulnar said it was difficult for a woman to work for the human rights because she had to suffer more than men. She urged the audience to follow Faiz and Asma’s legacy and it was the only way forward for the representation of women, workers, peasants and minorities in Pakistan. Abid Saqi recited Munoo Bhai’s couplets. Imtiaz Alam raised slogans in favour of Faiz and Revolution.
Farooq Tariq also spoke on the relevance of Faiz and today’s epoch and said the Faiz Aman Mela Committee was like a united front of the Left in Lahore.
In the last session, a number of singers performed on the occasion. Jawad Ahmad, Timur Rehman, Adeel Berki, Taranum Naaz, Anait Abid, Fawad Zaidi recited Faiz poetry and some of their best songs with hundreds dancing in front of them.