‘Lodge an FIR for Heer’s murder’

Ashiq Buzdar’s poem Asaan Qaidi Takht Lahore De gets standing ovation at LLF.

Aima Khosa February 20, 2015


“Asakoon Heer de qatal da FIR katawarna chahiye,” said Seraiki poet Rifat Abbas at Lahore Literary Festival (LLF) that opened on Friday.

He was addressing a panel, titled Reflections on Seraiki Literature. Poet Ashiq Buzdar and journalist Rana Mehboob also addressed the audience. The panel discussion, attended by nearly 40 people, was moderated by Dr Nukhbah Langaha, associate professor at the Forman Christian College.

Abbas spoke about various influences on Seraiki poetry. “Post-modernism has taught us that there is no universal truth that we have been seeking for centuries. Our individual experiences are our truths.”

“Seraiki poets address Rab like poets in most other languages, but is their Rab conjured or was He brought to them by an invader?”

Abbas said Multan had been a citadel of civilisation for 5,000 years. “Each word of a Seraiki poem contains the language’s history and its experiences.”

“When the British East India Company laid siege to the city in 1848, it took them a year to destroy its fortress and break its people,” he said. “It took 26,000 cannons to break the siege.” He said the siege had broken Multan forever. “After British left, our rulers were replaced with remote-controlled colonialists.

The city was never rebuilt. Before that, we had been ruled by Arabs. Our culture absorbed theirs when it came to us but today our language is dismissed as a dialect.”

Abbas said many people did not recognise Seraiki influences on Punjabi poetry. He mentioned Shah Hussain and Bulleh Shah, saying that in the 16th century, these poets would not only speak Seraiki or Punjabi but also a blend of languages spoken at the time.

“This is why one will also find Persian or Hindustani influences in their poetry as well as Seraiki.”

He said it was time for a fresh narration of folktales. “Many people don’t recognise misogyny and sexism in our tales. We celebrate Heer’s love but how many are appalled by the fact that she was murdered in cold blood? Her murder should be investigated. We should re-examine the tales we tell and start a new narration.”

Earlier, Ashiq Buzdar gave the audience an overview of Seraiki. “In a new Seraiki dictionary being compiled, there are 100,000 words.

Several writers have got together and also compiled a thesaurus with 5,000 definitions.”

Buzdar said Seraiki was a rich language spoken by 70 million people. “Seraiki speakers are found to be in Sindh, Balochistan and the Punjab. Yet, the language is not recognised as separate from Punjabi.”

He also talked about his poem Asaan Qaidi Takht Lahore De (We are prisoners of the throne of Lahore) and an eponymous book.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2015.


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