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A hundred years of Faiz

Last weekend I was in Lahore, driving through the ever-in creasing traffic, when I came across banners paying tributes to Salmaan Taseer's assassin. They are there for all to see and nobody has the guts to take them down. Everybody sees them -the police high-ups, the district administration, the media bigwigs -but nobody is brave enough to stand up against the wrong being propagated. I remember travelling from Islamabad to Lahore on GT road when I was a kid and asking my father questions about the banners on the roadside. I am not a kid anymore, but Pakistan still has those curious learners. Children will definitely read these banners and think that killing somebody can bring one a lot of appreciation. Now I am reluctant to ask any kid the proverbial question, what would you like to become when you grow up? Because I am afraid, sooner or later, some kid would innocently reply, “I want to become a killer“.
Let us admit it, we are a nation of cowards. But February 13, 2011 was the 100th birthday of one brave man, Faiz Ahmed Faiz. He was brave at a time when courage had not lost its true meaning. Anybody can stand tall on someone else's shoulders, anyone can ride the popular tide, but what's tough is to educate people about the sometimes huge contrast in what seems right and what is right. Such ideological evolution can be brought about only by the likes of Faiz sahab, who dared to stand against the sweeping tides of religious extremism, misplaced patriotism, moral policing, biased popular perceptions and judgmental public opinions.
Today, the media is a massive moulder of opinion and views, twisting the concepts of religion, ideology, morality, patriotism and sovereignty to feed the ever-growing appetite of an increasingly frustrated population. The bill to amend the blasphemy law deserved to be disseminated by the media fearlessly, but why would they have done that?
Opinion making takes too much time, costs a lot of money and, most significantly, needs courage. Media is not free, it just waits for the perfect tide to ride and, sadly, the amendment in the blasphemy law was not one. Sherry Rehman doesn't fit the stereotype our hypocritical society wants to put forth; her outlook is not `Islamic' at all. I am sure if the same bill had been tabled by Maulana Fazlur Rehman's lookalike, it would have sailed smoothly. Hail hypocrisy.
It is very easy to be upright when it is convenient but we are in dire need of brave men like Faiz Ahmed Faiz who are not apologetic about aligning with the truth, even when it is not convenient.
Salmaan Taseer did it just the way Faiz sahab prescribed. 

Is ishq na us ishq pey nadim hai magar dil, Har daagh hai is dil mein bajuz daagh-e-nidamat 

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