Their recitals before a large, mixed audience featured fresh verses written especially for the media-led peace initiative between Pakistan and India. And their expressions gave voice to a strongly feminist (not in the usual 'westernised' sense) vision and insight.
The Indians, and several of the Pakistani poetesses, had participated in the Aman ki Asha Indo-Pak mushaira at the same venue the evening before, enthralling a huge and enthusiastic gathering of poetry-lovers.
Featuring several big name poets ñ men and women ñ it had ended at 4.00 am. Several of the poets, especially the guests from India, had had a long day, with back-to-back meetings and get-togethers. But their poetry packed punches that surprised those in audience who may have expected lighter fare.
There was also a sense of anti-climax following the excitement of the previous day's mushaira. But once it got going, the all-women mushaira proved to be on merit as fine as the previous day's ñ or better, according to some in the audience. The quality of the verses and the verve and poise of the poets more than made up for the late start and even the disappointment caused by the absence of two towering figures, Fehmida Riaz (who was out of town), and Zohra Nigah, who was tending to her elder sister, also a towering literary figure, Fatima Surraiya Bajia recovering from a recent operation. Another literary giant, the indominitable Kishwar Naheed, who flew in especially that evening for the event, presided over the mushaira.
Bushra Ansari, elegant in a black sari, conducted the evening ably, although it was, as she confessed, her first attempt at doing so. Shahnaz Nabi of Calcutta University's Urdu Department, and Tarannum Riaz of Delhi University were particularly enthusiastically received, not just for their touching and powerful verses but also because they were guests from India. Young Ambreen Haseeb Amber wowed the audience with her candid and elegant verse, recited with a touch of impishness. Rehana Rohi, who had served up lighter fare at the mushaira the previous evening, recited some considerably more potent verses on Wednesday night.
In fact, as several in the audience commented, what stood out in this mushaira, besides the overall high quality of poetry, was the power of the poets, most of whom drew their strength from the very element that is usually derided as weak: being women. Shahida Tabassum, Tabassum Siddiqui, Shahida Hasan, and Dr Fatima Hasan, and of course Kishwar Naheed particularly embodied this quality in their recitals, besides Wazahat Naseem, Sarwat Sultana, Rukhsana Saba, Najma Khan, Hijab Abbasi, and Naseem Nazish.
It was nearly 2 am when Kishwar Naheed wound up the evening before a rapt audience, reciting just some of her fiery verses but also with some incisive comments about India-Pakistan relations. She roundly criticised the existing, restrictive visa regime between Pakistan and India that had prevented other four Pakistani poets from participating in the literary tour of several cities in the Indian Punjab that she had just come from.
She recited a fresh poem written for the occasion, ending with one of her famous older poems, the bold 'Hum gunahgar aurteiN'. "I always liked women," commented a member of the audience as people trickled out into the street, "but now I like them even more."
Friday, April 02, 2010
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Imagine the heavenly smell of stable peace
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The News on Sunday Special Report: India Pakistan prisoners more editions
We probably didn't need to do this Special Report. Newspaper stories don't matter when it comes to Indians in Pakistani jails and vice versa. In fact, 'vice versa' sums it up. We do to them what they do to us.
Except when the two countries decide to begin talking, yet again! This time a little before the foreign secretary level talks, some Pakistani prisoners were released by India (and vice versa must have happened) and some more were release....read more
For the past 2 years the Jang Group and Geo have been working on a project of great national interest; one that we hope will help usher in an era of peace and prosperity in the country and indeed, in the region. And one that hopefully all Pakistanis can be proud of. more
The Jang Group has entered into an agreement with the Times of India Group, the largest media group of India, to campaign for peace betw