ISLAMABAD: “In every family, there is a girl who stands up against the so-called rules and laws of the family and is labelled a ‘bad woman’. But she paves the way for other girls to live their lives according to their own wishes,” said renowned poet Kishwar Naheed.
She was speaking to guests at an event, organised to celebrate her 75th birthday on Wednesday. Poet and writer Haris Khaliq was the moderator of the event which included a classical dance performance on Kishwar’s poetry.
The poet gave an engaging talk which covered topics both personal and political and renowned literary figures talked about her life and legacy.
During her talk, she advised women to believe in themselves to resolve the issues that they face.
“Dramas and movies based on the suffering of women are made because women watch them,” she said.
Ms Naheed said she felt that she was fortunate to have friends who stood by her, over the years and she was lucky she faced circumstances which groomed her personality.
“As a six-year-old, I would participate in the rallies in the Pakistan movement with my mother. My father was arrested and I learnt to deal with the police,” she said. “In 1974, I was invited by Begum Nusrat Bhutto to attend public meetings with her.”
The poet recalled Zia’s regime as the worst time for the country. She narrated that when some people gathered to hold a funeral prayer in absentia for Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in Lahore, police arrested every single person who attended.
“Even children, as young as 11 were arrested,” she said.
Meanwhile, she recalled, a majority of people in that era had become so insensitive, they would come with lunch boxes to watch people being hanged.
“I was in Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) during Zia’s tenure but there was ban on everything including dance, painting and music,” she said.
Kishwar Naheed spoke with fondness about artists in the past.
“Once, singers and artists cared about pronouncing words correctly. Singer Noor Jehan used to visit me and ask me to correct her pronunciations but today no one seems to care,” she said.
“One of the biggest reasons for the issues we face, as a society, is the lack of dialogue. We are blindly following the mullah,” Ms Naheed said.
Fiction writer and columnist Intizar Hussain said that Kishwar was one the first Urdu poets, to have stood up against society.
“Kishwar talked about women’s rights and gave them the gift of words. But she also criticised male poets who did not stand up for women’s rights,” he said.
Literary figure Fateh Mohammad Malik said that Kishwar Naheed inspired a movement for women’s rights which cannot be stopped.
Writer Dr Asif Farrukhi said Kishwer is a journalist, poet, writer and activist, all at the same time.
“Kishwar never cared when people wrote against her. She is a kind friend but her friends also know that she can get annoyed,” he said with a smile.
National Commission on Status of Women (NCSW) Chairperson Khawar Mumtaz said that she started reading Kishwar’s articles after meeting her.
“Kishwar speaks with confidence, even on controversial issues. She is member of NCSW and always gives wise suggestions,” she said.
Writer Dr Asghar Nadeem Syed said that no one can understand Kishwar fully. She proved that women can do everything without the support of men.
Asghar Nadeem Syed’s witty narration of some incidents Kishwar and he experienced together, were thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.
Rights activist Tahira Abdullah said that Kishwar is beyond and above everything so she should not be called feminist.
Lok Virsa Executive Director Dr Fouzia Saeed said that Kishwar groomed people and taught them how to talk and how to deal with the police and public during protests.
Dawn, “Celebrating a woman of substance,” in Dawn, June 18, 2015. Accessed on June 18, 2015, at: http://www.dawn.com/news/1188956/celebrating-a-woman-of-substance
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