Three Poems for Troubled Times: Abhi Tou Kuch Nahin Hua

Posted on January 13, 2011
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Law & Justice, People, Poetry
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Adil Najam

A cascade of horrible recent events, all involving an outpouring of violence – in thought, in words, in deed – and culminating in the brutal murder of Salman Taseer continues to haunt the Pakistani psyche. We are left numb in disbelief of a reality which we always knew: the dysfunctional divisions in society are not just a scar on the face of modern Pakistan, it is a bleeding wound that threats the very body politic of our fragile being.

The fanatical murder of Salman Taseer, and even more than that the reaction to it, has shaken us as we should have been shaken well before. As one tries desperately to make sense of the senselessness that surrounds us, this line from an old poem by Himayat Ali ShairAbhi tou kuch nahiN hua – keeps coming back to hound one’s senses. Indeed, this, along with two other poems – Obaidullah Aleem’s ‘Meyray shehr jal rahey hain, mairey loug marr rahen hain’ and Ahmed Faraz’s ‘Aaj aisa nahiN, aisa nahiN honay daina’ – resound today even though all three were written inn very different times for different (but not unrelated) crises. They are all worth a listen again:

Himayat Ali Shair: Abhi tou kuch nahiN hua

Obaidullah Aleem: Meray loug marr rahey haiN

Ahmed Faraz: Aaj aisa nahiN, aisa nahiN, honay daina

All three were written in very different times – Aleem in 1971, Faraz and (I think) Shair in the 1980s – in different contexts and about different but very related challenges to the ones we face today. Each was a cry of pain and a warning to the nation. Warnings we did not heed. One listens to them today and one wishes we had paid attention then. One also wonders if, in fact, we are paying attention even today.

The self-righteousness and intolerance on everything that everyone seems to have is frightening. Even on the most minor things and even in our comments section, just disagreeing seems to be never enough; there seems to be a compulsion to be disagreeable and uncivil, and forever angry. The hatred we display for anyone who we do not agree with and the violence we justify on the basis of that hatred boggles the mind. Intolerance is everywhere.

Anyone we disagree with becomes not just a subject of  disagreement, but a fair target for slander and character assassination, verbal abuse, and ultimately murder. Indeed, there is a huge difference between venting anger with words and anger that leads to murder. But both lie on the same progression. A society that tolerates – and promotes – too much of the first will inevitably harvest too much of the latter.

It is good that at least some discussion has begun on what is happening to this society where everyone seems forever angry, forever incensed, and forever aggrieved, and forever at the tip of blowing up. But in proportion to the air of self-righteousness that pervades society the discussion is too little, and may well be too late. Some of the chest-beating is also self-serving and itself so angry as to lose its own meaning. But, at least, we are beginning to talk about things we have been ignoring for too long. That is a good sign. Maybe we should also do a little listening. It would be good to begin by listening to the reasoned words in these three poems. Reason is often the first casualty of anger. Ultimately, it is also the only antidote.

P.S. We are adding a fourth poem, sent to us by a reader, called Abhi kuch dair baqi hai by Shakil Jaffery:

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35 responses to “Three Poems for Troubled Times: Abhi Tou Kuch Nahin Hua

  1. Kamal says:

    Nonsense again.
    You obviously do not know what liberalism is and are just indulging in propaganda. Most of the examples you give have nothing to do with liberalism.
    Lal masjid, despite its name, was a den of thugs and violent criminals. This was a police action, there were kidnappers in there who had been kidnapping foreigners in Pakistan. Plain and simple. They were given ample time to surrender to teh authorities but they were thugs and that is all they were. Otherwise, why in hell was there so much amunition and firearms in a place of worship?

    Bugti’s murder again had nothing to do with liberalism. It was a political murder by a dictator. Unless of course you think of Bugti as some great religious saint. Same with your other examples, they are silly rants of a sophmore who has no idea of what he is talking about. The US may aspouse to liberal values (actually it does not, it is a conservative country and much of its politics, certainly or Republicans, is more like the Jamaat-i-Islami) but that does not mean that anything a ‘liberal’ does is for liberalism. The examples you give are bad political actions which most liberals disagree with – clearly the liberal position all over USA and Europe is AGAINST the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the drone attacks.

    Please, please stop spreading lies and insulting our intelligence. People DO support suicide bombers and murder. Anyone who supports Qadri and the namoos drama is doing exactly that.

  2. Kashifiat says:

    True Golden Examples of Liberal extremism & barbarianism, Actions are totally against the claim of civilian

    Lal Masjid operation, Karachi 12th May incidents of 2004 & 2007, Baluchistan Operation- Murder of Bugti, target killings in Khi by MQM, PPP & ANP workers & supporters, Appreciation & support of Drone attacks, Opening of sales houses for Pakistani & Arab people to US, allotment of three military air bases to US AF for attacking people of Afghanistan, misplaced people, removal & showing reservations in restoration of chief justice is not extremism, even a minister who can’t recite sura ikhlas is not extremism, who is proven corrupt – NRO made for whom? for any religious identity, who made this law Musharaf – a liberal, even US is worried about corruption of NGOs which are lead by liberal so called Civil society which is also morally corrupt.

    //There is no liberal extremist who is advocating killing people in the name of liberalism.\\

    Who demanded the military operation in Lal Masjid, who are the supporters of Drone attack, who killed more than a 50 people in a day (May 12th), who supported the Swat operation. Who is asking to kill those who has other opinion on ST murder, who is supporting US in killing Muslims its all are so called “Extremist liberals”

    Support of Mix gender race in Lhr, support of vulgarity & obscenity in the name of fashion shows, support of Basant in the name of culture where people killed with bloody thread (manjha) & in Musharaf era wine was short , drinking vine in governor house is not extremism,

    The problem with liberal extremist views is that they are highly intolerant clan. LE don’t want to listen any thing from other side, just want to impose own definitions & own versions, they have narrow vision & are short sighted.

    No one is supporting suicide bombers but on the other hand if drone attacks will continue & liberal fascist-ism will support & become instrumental in promotion of vulgarity, society will face reactions against above all mentioned ‘actions’

    Pakistan always faced the allegations of corruption in Liberal lobby dominance

  3. T.S. Bokhari says:

    Sorry! On reading the fair copy I found some serious errors in my previous post, which may better please be replaced by the following:


    Well said dear! In fact the very term ‘extremist’ to describe the religious barbarians is sheer nonsense. In moral terms logically speaking if religion is a good thing why should its extreme be bad. In fact it is not a question of degree or intensity of an action that is important but what is important is it being ethically moral or immoral. Barbarism in the name of religion as in the name of liberalism. But liberalism denoting essentially a civilized form of culture, based on the belief of humanism, it is by its very essence a negation of violence as described beautifully by Bulleh Shah in his couplet:

    مسجد ڈھا دے مندر ڈھا دے، ڈھادے جو کجھ ڈھیندہ
    اک بندے دا دل نہ ڈھاویں رب دلاں وچ رہندا

  4. Kamal says:

    This liberal extremism stuff is nonsense and a way for the real extremists to deflect blame. There is NO liberal extremist who is blowing innocent people in suicide bombs. There is no liberal extremist who is murdering governors of provinces in the name of jahalat disguised as religion. There is no liberal extremist who is advocating killing people in the name of liberalism. This propaganda of ‘liberal extremists’ is just a phrase used by supporters of murderers and extremists to distract attention.

  5. talat says:

    @Kashfiat says

    “This is what we call “Liberal Extremism” which is increasing & need to control as advised by Waseem.”

    I don’t think Waseem’s post implied this. Any how, too much of any thing is bad. However, going on rampage in the sacred name of Islam is the worst thing one can do.

    Just imagine Sunny Jamaat walas celebrating the murder of ST by Qadri when they are themselves being murdered in hundreds in their shrines and mosques by Wahabi Taliban by holding them as Mushrikin-e-Islam. Is that to be celebrated?

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