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Literature, politics, and resistance: Part - VI

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As mentioned in the previous part of this series, Afzal Tauseef was an indomitable fighter for democracy in Pakistan. She was born in 1936 in East Punjab and in 1947, most of her family members were killed in the throes of Partition. She came to Balochistan were her father was posted, and then she moved to Lahore.

From General Ayub Khan to General Zia, she battled for the restoration of democracy in the country. One of her short stories is 'Pacheeswan Ghanta' (the 25th hour) in which she exposes the selfishness of most people who try to remain aloof from what is happening in society. “This was the same person who used to say, with a smug face, ‘I am content with my life because I always think about myself and my hereafter’. Well, even a goat thinks the same way; while ruminating, its face is also as blank and smug.”

Moving forward, Afzal Tauseef writes: “But you say the Ravi is dry and full of sand; yes, the sand moves around in the Ravi, then what? I wanted him to keep talking. If the water in the Ravi had not dried up, seasons would have alternated: summer, winter, fall and spring. Now, what do we have? The scene of a wasteland. Had it not been a wasteland, we could be talking about the upcoming season…You have also played a role in making this wasteland.”

In 2019, when we see the wasteland around us, we should remember that Afzal Tauseef had forewarned us about this impending wasteland 50 years ago. Here wasteland does not mean destruction of physical infrastructure; we do have tall edifices in our cities. It is the educational and intellectual wasteland we see around us; it is the result of suppressing opinions, and curbing the freedom of expression. But our state and its ruling elites neither bothered about it then, nor are they concerned right now. They are only interested in protecting their own interests.

If the rest of the country........

© The News on Sunday