"Never Underestimate Its Power": Pak Poet Faiz's Daughter On His Poetry

Saleema Hashmi said her father's poems are not restricted by borders or even language and claimed by those who need new words.

'Never Underestimate Its Power': Pak Poet Faiz's Daughter On His Poetry

IIT Kanpur read out Faiz Ahmad Faiz's poem at the protest march on December 17.

Lahore:

It is not "sad" but "funny" to call Faiz Ahmed Faiz's "Hum Dekhenge" anti-Hindu, his daughter said. She asserted that her father's words will always speak to those who need to express themselves.

Asked about IIT-Kanpur forming a committee to inquire into a complaint against the recitation of ''Hum Dekhenge'' on campus by students to protest against the Citizenship Act, Saleema Hashmi said she is not worried about the controversy as it may ultimately lead to the poet's words seducing those who are critical of the poem.

In an exclusive interview with news agency PTI, Ms Hashmi said, "A group of people investigating the poem's message is nothing to be sad about, it is very funny. Let's look at in another way, they may end up getting interested in Urdu poetry and it's metaphors. Never underestimate the power of Faiz."

Ms Hashmi said her father's poems are not restricted by borders or even language and claimed by those who need new words.

"It is not surprising that Faiz continues to be relevant this side of the border or that side. I was told that this poem was sung in Nepal during their days of democratic struggle against the monarchy. I suppose poets and their words are claimed wherever and by whoever they are needed. They provide the words that people cannot find for themselves," she said.

Written in 1979 to protest against former Pakistani general-premier Zia-ul-Haq, the poem cleverly uses Islamic metaphors to attack fundamentalism and has come to be seen as a revolutionary chant for those fighting any kind of oppression.

Ms Hashmi said she was happy that her father was speaking to people from beyond his grave.

On a question whether poetry can be used as an instrument in fighting fundamentalism, Ms Hashmi said, "In itself, poetry cannot fight fundamentalism but it can create circumstances for change by helping in mobilising people, giving them a sense of shared aspirations and dreams of a better future.

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