Jashn-e-Faiz: NSF seminar on ‘Uncle Sam’ with Hameed Akhtar
The famous intellectual, columnist Hameed Akhtar of the Progressive Writers Association, who was closely associated with Faiz Ahmed Faiz, flew in specially from Lahore for Jashn-e-Faiz on April 17, 2011. As the last speaker at the seminar titled ‘Uncle Sam Behind The Scene’, organised by the National Students Federation (NSF), he engrossed the audience by touching upon some personal moments spent with Faiz Sahab, and made a plea for improvements in the education system.
“The syllabus no longer includes Persian and Arabic which are the basis of the Urdu language,” he observed. “The number of people who speak and understand Urdu is dwindling. If we don’t think of a solution, I am afraid in 15-20 years, there will be no one left who would understand Faiz,”
NSF has since its inception been working on spreading education irrespective of class, caste and creed and has also been a great supporter of secularism since the period of Zia-ul-Haq. It has previously held meetings on the current problems of Pakistan. The topic of the seminar was a result of these meetings where members felt a need to talk upon our world’s very own ‘Uncle Sam’.
The seminar, which drew a sizeable crowd, started off with a beautiful song in support of the hardworking labourers of Pakistan, sung by Ali Hadi, a young NSF member. Other NSF members joined him, making it even more memorable.
Mujtaba Zaidi, a member of the Central Coordination Committee NSF gave the opening speech, ‘Liberal Virus vs Mullah Poison’. He talked about how liberalists are being treated as a virus by ‘Islamists’ who are poisoning the minds of the people. Liberalists, he said, are being labeled as non-Muslims for wanting an equal share for every minority in Pakistan. Further, there are currently two trends visible in Pakistan, one that supports American Imperialism, and another who thinks that Talibanisation is a brainchild of American Imperialism and is hence against it.
Former NSF president Salahuddin Gandapur, a renowned lawyer currently fighting for the labourers free of cost, talked about the continuous suppression of the Pashtuns from the pre-partition movement of Badshah Khan to the Soviet Afghan War and now the US Afghan War. Advocate Akhtar Hussain, General Secretary of the Workers Party Pakistan, talked about the changing roles of the US army in the Soviet Afghan War and how they once supported the jihadis and then became the initiators of the ‘War on Terror’. Another former NSF president, Dr. Safdar Rasheed, currently practicing in Australia, spoke on ‘Globalization and War on Terror’ that he said would be better called the war ‘of’ terror. He said it was the outcome of the neo-liberal policies of America, and serves the economic objectives of imperialism.
Khurram Ali Mantiq, member of NSF concluded this section of the seminar and opened the house for a question-answer session. The seminar was attended by well known lawyers, politicians and human rights activists like Aitzaz Ahsan, Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim, Hasil Bizenjo and Iqbal Haider.
Those present at the seminar endorsed the NSF’s commitment to world peace and nuclear disarmament and solidarity with all the progressive forces of the world fighting for freedom, democracy, territorial integrity, national independence and socialism against imperialist hegemony. All forms of terrorism and fundamentalism pose a serious threat to our national unity and integrity. NSF is also opposed to the curtailment of democratic rights by the State in the name of combating terror. NSF defends the unity and integrity of our country and believes that it can be safeguarded only through student and other popular mobilizations.