In 2007, when the emotions in Pakistan were charged and the restoration of judiciary movement was at its peak, the well known lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan, who played a pivotal role not only for the movement but in the constitutional case in the Supreme Court of Pakistan as well, gave the slogan ‘Riasat ho ghe maan ke jaisee’ (State will be like a mother) in his poem, written for the so called ‘awakening’ of 2007. On their journey to Pakistan, millions left their home and familiar surroundings behind. The odyssey of those who departed from their kinsmen with whom they lived for centuries along the fertile shores of Ganga-Jamuna turned out to be a ‘journey to disillusionment’. 20th century Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz pointed out this plight in August 1947 as ‘Yeh daagh daagh ujala yeh shab gazeeda sehar / woh intezar tha jis ka yeh woh sehar tou nahin’ (This pockmarked daybreak / Dawn gripped by night / This is not that much awaited light). At that time it was taken as recital of a pessimist/misanthropist. Faiz on the contrary was sure that without eliminating the subjugation of millions by a limited few, nothing will change. Real empowerment of people was still a fight afar: abhi sir-e-reh ko kuch khabr he nahin / abhi gharani-e-shab mein kamee nahin aye / nijaat-e-deeda o dil ki ghardi nahin aye / chalay chalo ke manzil abhi nahin ayee’ (That sweet morning breeze / Where did it come from? Where did it disappear? / That roadside lamp has no news / The heavy night weighs the same / The heart and eye await deliverance / Forward, we have not yet reached our goal/destination). What followed independence is in front of us. Power remained with a blessed few; feudal lords retained their thousands of acres and the political power. The first decade of inception of Pakistan witnessed the death of our ideologically driven leaders/heroes Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Liaqat Ali Khan. Principled politicians like Nisthar were pushed aside by Unionists and feudal lords, new-born businessmen and ambitious bureaucrats filled the vacuum.  Shair-e-awam (People’s poet) Habib Jalib portrayed this decade as Hai abh tak pa bajola khitah-e-Pak / pardhi azadheon ke sir pe hai khak / sitara auj per hai rahzenon ka / nahin pursaan koi khasta tano ka’.

The second decade saw the army share power, to the plight of the land of pure. General Ayub Khan took over in 1958 and started a tradition of military takeovers which have since repeated themselves in the shape of Zia ul Haq and Gen Musharraf. Jalib beautifully explains it as ‘Kahan Qatil badaltay hain / Faqat Chairay badaltay hain’. Ironically everyone seems to be stakeholder in the corridors of power except the people. Their disillusionment continues. Political parties without prejudice to their leanings of ideology have failed in delivering because none of them is serious in delivering to the people and politics for them is all about gaining power. Machiavelli is more popular in this region than anywhere else in the world. Doing anything for the people is not an end in itself, but a mere means to gain power. Despite some half-hearted efforts to make us a nation, we still are in transition and the same seems to continue till arrival of a messiah. A lot has been tried so far and every new arrival tried to sell as the ‘one’. Religion has been used by many mullahs to get their share of power and their contribution instead of making us a nation has further divided us into Shia, Sunni, Deobandi, Barelvi etc.

The people of Pakistan continue their struggle to form a nation, where all hearts beat to the same rhythm. So far it has been a journey to disillusionment where at every step we have been deceived or have deceived others. Daagh daagh ujala is about these deceptions and hope that like Israelites, Pakistanis will find their destiny and also the hope that once we cross Nile, we do not become Israelites but a nation with our own identity. Maybe we are searching for a history which creates national identity, and once we have gone through the process of history we rise as a nation. There are numerous similarities between ‘bani Israel and Pakistanis as both were made of various tribes and all of them kept their tribal identities. Moses took them out of the Pharaoh’s subjugation but afterwards it turned out to be ‘daagh daagh ujala’ for them as well.


Mustafa Zaidi addressed his country in a way which represents thoughts of millions in his poem Banam-e-watan’

Tum ne her ahed mein her nasel se ghadaree ke

Tum ne bazaaron mein haqlon ki khareedari ki

Eent se eent baja de gayee khud dari ki

Khauf ko rakh liya khidmat pe kamandari ki

Aaj tum mujh se meri jins-e-ghiraan mangthe ho

Khalaf-e-zahen-o-wafadari-e-jaan mangthe ho

Jao yeh cheez kisi madah sirah se maangho

Tahefay walon se dholak ki sada se maagho

Apne darbano se budter fuqra se maangho

Apne darbar ke ghungey showrah se maangho

Mujh se poocho gey tou khanjer se adhu bolay ga

Ghardaney kaat bhi dho gey tou lahoo bolay ga…..

Daagh daagh Ujala is about this and everything else that comes to a citizen of the land of pure where we live through all the misery, deception and suffering. This blog speaks about how one feels, the experiences and feelings of living Pakistan in its short history, trying present and a hopeful future.




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This work by MSA is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

Header art by HF.


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