Jashn-e-Faiz: Denouncing violence in the name of religion
The following post is adapted from an email by Fahim Zaman Khan, one of the main driving forces behind Jashne Faiz, to the core team of activists. It provides an insider’s view into the thinking behind the event, as well as what it took to organise it, a flavour of the event itself, and some of those involved in making it happen.
As he writes: “Whatever the outcome, we had an opportunity to denounce violence – most of all in the name of religion. We were able to pay our tributes to Salman Taseer, Shahbaz Bhatti and other martyrs to the cause, which was genuinely approved by the common people attending the Plenary in form of the resolution.”
Jashne Faiz: reflections and an overview
More than the numbers I think what matters is the quality of participation by ordinary Karachiites. There was not a single incident of violence, pickpocket or teasing during the14 hours of Jashne Faiz. Women completely clad in burqas came to attend with or without their families. The organisers really fell in a spin when about a dozen or so Pashtun women accompanied by a single young man and few children came at the registration desks and haggled for over 20 minutes for their right to enter the event and finally were able to do so (after willing to be body searched by lady-security searchers.
Young boys from the audience at our request volunteered to help organise the general and family enclosures (as our signs and banners for the task went missing), all 175 flag posts were flying flags of different organisations including CFD, National Academy of Performing Arts, Faiz Centennial Committee, and CDGK, Karachi University, SZABIST, Indus Valley, Karachi School of Arts, Dawn, Geo, Dunya, Samaa, Daily Times, Business plus, PMA, KESC, KESC Employees Union, Sui SGC, SIUT, Spencer Eye Hospital, Piler, Fisherfolk Forum, HH technofab, Tapal Energies, International Industries Limited, FM-89, FM-103 and tons more. They flew over the boundary fence as if guarding the venue. 15 relatively large CFD flags were positioned at all gates and other strategic locations there were at least 500 banners with progressive slogans, potraits of Faiz, Salman Taseer, Shabaz Bhatti and drawings by Sadeqain and Vai Ell (Yusuf Lodhi) around Faiz’s poetry and message. Needless to say the media was fabulous!
There may have been more than a thousand organisers and volunteers. Within a week Umer Farooq flew back from from Canada to be with us saying “I don’t want you guys to die alone in a bomb blast if there is going to be one”. He leaves for his permanent place of abode in five days.
I cannot name all the wonderful people who struggled ceaselessly to work for our collective success for CFD and Jashne Faiz. However I would like to thank Aitzaz Ahsan (I don’t know if he was able to make it home in time for his Supreme court appearance), Arshad Mahmud (I don’t have words for his contribution and only two of us will ever know about B.P.), Shehzad Roy, this wonderful young man sat amongst the crowds all through the concert except when he had to come up on the stage to perform and was jumping on the stage after the resolutions were read. Courageous Sania Saeed and Taimur Rahman (I take them both as comrades) and The Laal Band; and the one that kept pushing me to continue but I cannot name (lines drawn) all from the bottom of my heart to have helped all of us with Jashne Faiz – an event that the Police and the administration high-ups including the CCPO and the DIG South two days before said we should not venture for as hordes of boys from Lines area and PIB Colony were supposedly to descend; our security advisers vanished after that! Yet we told them those were the people we wanted to connect with, they had nothing to fear from us and we have nothing to fear from. We demanded a written cancellation that I knew they could not give and without which we refused to delay or cancel.
It was unfortunate that we could not have the Film tent up and running in time and may be in days and months to come we can organise a CFD Film festival with Sabeen’s help in our city.
Yet for what Faiz stood for and what I believe CFD should continue to stand for, we must carry on the struggle that started on the 19th December, 2011 by POJAC, Beena and other colleagues and comrades.
The event came to a close around 2.30 am with the end of Faiz mushaiara and finally the security cordon was lifted from the sports complex. That may be the end of the 17th April event – but not of the process; the process that CFD stands for and must continue. During the run up to the 17th April event, heat was understandably generated in a large body of middle class CFD members, mostly due to our class characters and limited common exposure/experience of working together. This often created bad blood and as we relax I think everyone should forgive each other and as Niilofur says let the actual struggle begin.
A large number of colleagues from HRCP were busy in their elections and AGM and were not able to attend Jashne Faiz and we dearly missed them.
Whatever the outcome, we had an opportunity to denounce violence – most of all in the name of religion. We were able to pay our tributes to Salman Taseer, Shahbaz Bhatti and other martyrs to the cause, which was genuinely approved by the common people attending the Plenary in form of the resolution.
— Fahim Zaman Khan, Karachi, April 19, 2011