There is an increasingly perceptible gap between our need for social transformation and America’s insistence on stability, between our impatience for change and American’s obsession with order, our move towards revolution and America’s belief in the plausibility of achieving reforms under the robber barons of the ‘third world’, our longing for absolute national sovereignty and America’s preference for pliable allies, our desires to see our national soil free of foreign occupation and America’s alleged need for military bases.
Eqbal Ahmed in a dialogue with Samuel Huntington, from No More Vietnams: War and the Future of American Policy
The streets of Pakistan may not be filled with photogenic ‘rebel types’ to fill our evening TV screens here in Europe and the USA. However, voices for change, social justice and rights are strong and largely coming from a new generation of students, activists, intellectuals and ordinary citizens. I can’t help but feel that we are saying farewell to the accommodations and compromises of our parent’s generation, and that a new Pakistani society is working its way up into the seats of power and civil society. And that it is a society that is young, educated, religiously conservative but without being fanatical and intellectually empty.
And as always, when it comes to nations of ‘the other world’, these changes are largely being missed by a media largely obsessed with matters of American policy and insisting on seeing Pakistan less as a diverse, complex and sovereign nation and more as a ‘vassal’ state to American state power and geopolitical priorities in South Asia.
The rock band ‘Laal’ (means the color red in Urdu) has been a musical voice for these transformations. Below is a beautiful version of one of Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poems put to music, at a time when the citizens of Pakistan have confronted power and achieved the reinstatement of the ousted Supreme Court Justices – a landmark moment in Pakistani political, social and civic history.
This video itself captures the anger, frustration and marginalization that sits in the hearts of the ordinary Pakistani.
Faiz’s words give these feelings the immortality, dignity and the honor that they deserve.
The video has English translations for those of you who may not understand Urdu. Particularly Faiz’s magnificently musical, lyrical Urdu!