Congratulations Nawaz Sharif
Editor’s Note: This article by Zahida Hina first appeared in Urdu language on May 20, 2018 in Daily Express. It has been translated for the audience of NayaDaur.
It was May when The East India Company declared the armed struggle of Indian freedom fighters ‘The Mutiny’, and spilled tons of blood to put down this freedom movement. Mangal Pandey, the first martyr of this movement, and his Hindu and Muslim associates raised the banner of rebellion and sacrificed their lives for the country. We find the list of these 85 names in the books authored by Maulana Ghulam Rasool Mehr. The Maulana called the events of 1857 the ‘Freedom War’.
The British not only declared this rebellion a ‘mutiny’ but also started the mass production of ‘traitors’. The article 6 of our constitution proposes hanging of traitors. These days, some people want to see many others hanged under this provision. There was no 1973 Constitution during the British Raj, therefore they erected gallows in cities and hanged the freedom fighters or blew them with cannons. Thousands of Hindustanis sacrificed their lives for the motherland.
Bahadur Shah Zafar was one of them who were designated as traitors by the British. He was arrested, and presented before the British Court. The one who was a poet, and did much favour to the British officers was presented before the court in a humiliating way. Then the King of Hind was exiled to Rangoon under the charge of rebellion and munity against the British. Bahadur Shah Zafar was a ‘traitor’, and his sons were killed, and their chopped heads were presented to the king at his breakfast.
A great scholar of his time, Allama Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi, who compiled ‘Dewan e Ghalib’ and wrote ‘Suratul Hind’, was declared a traitor and exiled to Kalapani (Andaman Island). He died and was laid to rest there. A list of some other ‘traitors’ is inscribed by Quratulain Haider in her short story, ‘Chhoote Aseer Tu Badla Howa Zamana Thaa’. The list reads: Khudi Ram Baso, hanged 1908 – Parflachkai, suicide in the prison – Ishfaqullah, hanged 1929 – Bhagat Singh, hanged 1931 – Perti Latadavida, suicide 1932 – Deep Parshad, shot dead – Mata Nangni Hajrah, shot dead by police 1942 – Sudheer Kumar Bose, exiled to Andaman Island where he died during hunger strike.
These gallants and many others fought for their country and were imprisoned, and the captors of their country declared them ‘traitors’, tortured them and hanged them. And this gross injustice did not end with the British. Their successors, the ‘colored British’ also followed the suit. Those who should have earned the fruit of freedom, were put to dock and the brown successors of the British played games on the chessboard of rule. Hassan Nasir’s bones were broken in Lahore Fort, and then he was buried at some unknown place. Ayaz Sumo and Nazir Abbasi were also declared ‘traitors’ and so was Jam Saqi, who was labeled Indian agent withal. He was tortured so much that he lost his mental health.
I am not trying to narrate to you the history in chronological order. Our elite had such passion of censorship that they were committed not to publish the speech of the founder of Pakistan, as he could also be deemed a ‘traitor’. Hats off to the Bengali Editor of Dawn who published the uncensored speech; and it is being cited for the last 70 years. Freedom was secured through democracy, but only a few days later, Dr Khan’s elected government in KP was dismissed only because it didn’t belong to the Muslim League.
Subsequently, we witnessed an incredible crop of ‘traitors’ growing. Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan who started ‘Khudai Khidmatgar Movement’ and who preached non-violence and peace was mocked as ‘Sarhadi Ghandi’ in our country. He was called a ‘traitor’ and for whole life he was considered an Indian agent. A big part of his life was spent in jail. These days, a picture of him is viral on social media. A six- or seven-year-old Indira Priyadarshini is sitting in the lap of Ghaffar Khan, smiling. Had it been aired a few years back, our rulers would have also interpreted it as Ghaffar Khan’s pro-India and anti-Pakistan stance. A renowned Sindhi intellectual and politician, and author of many books, GM Syed, who ensured the passing of Pakistan Resolution in Sindh Assembly was also declared ‘traitor’ and ‘Indian agent’. He spent 30 years of his life in jails and then died under house arrest.
During the Pakistan Movement, the elders of Muslim League put much emphasis on freedom of speech but it is the irony of history that soon after independence, ‘Swera’, a literary magazine, was banned for six months. It is because it published Faiz’s poem ‘Sehar’, which was later titled as ‘Subh-e-Azadi’ (Morning of Independence). The ban on written words continued to stretch. Manto’s short story ‘Thanda Gosht’ was banned. An esteemed journal ‘Civil and Military Gazette’ was also banned in May 1949.
Listen to Subh-e-Azadi by Faiz in the voice of Naseeruddin Shah
Government of Pakistan was scared of progressive writers. Due to this fear, the Progressive Writers’ Movement was banned, and the Communist Party was proscribed. In March 1951, The Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case was unearthed. The atmosphere of the country was thick with panic. Syed Sajjad Zaheer, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Capt Zafarullah Poshni and many other progressive writers and poets were apprehended. The lives of them all were under threat. The case got global coverage. The arrested persons were kept in Montgomery Jail and Central Jail Hyderabad. However, no allegation was proved, and they were acquitted.
The list of ‘traitors’ is so long in Pakistan that they can’t even be counted. Balochs have been hanged in this country after guaranteeing them safety. All those who opposed One Unit were declared ‘traitors’. Malik Ghulam Jilani, who was associated with Sheikh Mujeebur Rehman’s Awami League, protested against excesses committed in East Pakistan, alone and unaided. He was arrested and put behind the bars. He was also a ‘traitor’ of Pakistan. His daughter Asma Jilani fought her father’s case. Asma Jilani later came to be known as Asma Jahangir. She and her sister, Hina Jilani, carried out an unprecedented struggle for upholding the human rights and women’s rights in Pakistan. They would also be declared ‘traitors’ and ‘India agents’ every other day.
It seems we have set up a factory publishing ‘certificates of treason’. For us, every person voicing their democratic and human rights is a traitor. They may be Bengali, Sindhi, Pashtun, Punjabi or Baloch. They are ‘traitors’, ‘Indian agents’ and liable to death. Even newspapers, magazines, journals, and books have been labeled as traitors in this country. Among them, Faiz’s ‘Subh-e-Azadi’ (1947) was the first. Habib Jalib’s anthology ‘Sar-e-Maqtal’ is also from the same clan.
Quratulain Haider’s ‘Aag ka Darya’ attracted so much abuse and so frequently was she called an ‘Indian agent’ that she thought it better to leave Pakistan for India. Sensing what was happening in Pakistan, Sahir Ludhianvi also migrated back to India. Ustad Bare Ghulam Ali Khan’s ancestors were natives of Kasur for generations but his better judgment told him to go to India and spend his life there.
So congratulations to Nawaz Sharif for joining the list of traitors alongside Khawaja Nazimuddin, Fatima Jinnah, Suhrawardy, Mujeebur Rehman, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Wali Khan, Ataullah Mengal, Bizenjo, Khair Bakhsh Marri and Benazir Bhutto.