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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Shamsul Qamar Andesh

Shamsul Qamar Andesh

Wednesday, 07 February 2007
Born and reared in political atmosphere as a nationalist, and having witnessed and suffered vicissitude of politics with tiresome struggle, economic depression, and mental strains, in his young age, Shamsul Qamar Andesh grew a good poet and writer. He believes in objective writing in order to provide proper guidance to the people. This trend kept him away for a long time from literary sociability. To him, literary associations and gatherings were pastime of idle word-players. His contention may be disputed that this very pastime is food of the language. But one can not challenge his honesty and sincerity in his thinking that literature and politics are inter-related.
Shamsul Qamar Andesh has firm conviction that politics has direct bearing on the life of the society, and literature not only reflects quandary and predicament of the socio-economic order but has to provide palatable recipe of wealthy and healthy guidance. He is a good student of Pashto literature, and impressed too much by the Khudai Khidmatgar movement for having played concrete role in renaissance of Pashto after a long spell of inertia. That reformative movement which was later transformed into political carried along the imperceptible movement of Pashto literature by encouraging poets to appear on public stage and unfold mysteries of their heart and brain. Their passionate revolutionary poetry from the stage of that movement awakened the dormant spirit and sentiments of the Pakhtuns. Young talented students were also attracted to write in their own language. Some of the poets and writers, like Sher Ali Bacha and Asghar Lala, accept this reality.Shamsul Qamar was born in 1935 at Mayar in Mardan district. He did his BA as a private student from the Punjab university in 1968. His father was a Khudai Khidmatgar who used to bring home weekly Pakhtun invariably. Shamsul Qamar was reading it. And that animated his aptitude for poetry. He started composing poetry when he was a student, and had won a prize in an emulous contest of tappa in the school.The progressive movement, launched in 1936, infiltrate Pashto literature also. Andesh would argue as regards this phenomenon like this; "When I peep into the mansion of Pakhto literature, I find that Pakhto has been progressive since the time of Khushal Khan Khattak. And the movement of Bacha Khan had climbed to the apex of progression at a time when the progressive movement was not known to Pakhtuns". He considers the movement of Bacha Khan progressive on theground that "the progressive elements claim to be pleading the cause of all the nations and nationalities, and modification of the socio-economic and political systems to meet the needs of the peoples. While Bacha Khan had displayed practically pursuit of these very aims. Here in our country the politics has been thrown to the winds, while Bacha Khan contemplated, decided and spoke what he considered true and was thus flying against the storm. He used to advise the Pakhtuns to rise and achieve their rights. In fact, he was advocate of the rights, not only of the Pakhtuns but of all the oppressed people. He demanded similar rights for the Punjabis, Sindhis and Baloch as well. But being a Pakhtun, he addressed problems of his own people first".Andesh has firm faith in objectivity, but he thinks that the slogan of adab barae zindagi, coined by the progressive movement, is open to question. He would say sarcastically that "where there is no life what the literature should be for?"To Andesh, Pakhtuns form a large nation and is considered the largest tribal community around the world. Yet their language has been possessed by demons. The hired intelligentsia, corrupt politicians and bigoted bureaucracy join hands to implement the imaginary ideologies at the cost of the languages and cultures of Pakistan. At this juncture, Pakhto needs both objectivity and subjectivity. These two should go together on way to development of the language, its literature and culture.Since most of the poets wanted to keep aloof from the politics due to fear of reprisal from the government side, they form and join the literary associations in order to give vent to their faculty of writing. Such writings naturally lack objectivity. But they play, on the other hand, significant role in rejuvenation of the spirit and talents as well as in enrichment of the language.It was very late for Shamsul Qamar Andesh to come close to associations and take part in their activities. Andesh would not blame the nationalist parties for being not able to realise their aspirations because the fate of the nation is decided in the parliament by dint of majority. These parties have not yet got desired majority to implement their manifestoes. They are always compelled to sit in the opposition or join a coalition. Then how could they be expected to do what they wanted.Shamsul Qamar Andesh is skeptical of the education policy. He says that "our children are taught about the writers and leaders even of India but never taught about our own people. They would know much about Ghalib, Mir, Azad, Sir Syed and others but ould have no information about Khushal Khan Khattak, Rahman Baba and Hameed. They would memorise that Pakistan was the outcome of a dream and a resolution but would know nothing about the sacrifices of thousands of people for freedom." He says that "what the children hear at home are contradicted in the school. The clean slate of the mind is thus marred with unintelligible riddles in the outset. Could such a mind be expected to think and do the right?"Andesh thinks that "the electronics media are also misused for suppression of original talents. Take the example of PTV Peshawar centre. It has been given a duration for Pashto programme which could not be justified by any principle. The Pashto programmes are preceded by announcement in Urdu, and followed by verses in Urdu. For national circuits, the themes from novels based on worn-out ideas of their blue-eyes are imposed on this centre with a bunch of actors from outside. Here it is given to non-Pakhtuns for dramatisation. All this is done at the cost of its own budget to deprive the Pakhtun talents even of the reward of their labour. Is it a fair game? Moreover the Pashto programmes are conducted in a ridiculous way. The programmes on agriculture are produced in such a language which is beyond the comprehension of the farmers. Similar is the case with the children's and women's programmes. The compere speaks Pashto in a style as if she is making fun of it. The PTV programmes could not be improved unless it explores the rightful and genuine writers and actors, and the duration for Pashto programmes is extended according to the population of Pashtuns."As regards the Pashto academy, Shamsul Qamar Andesh says that "it has created its own nebula of writers instead of exploration of the genuine writers of Pashto. That is the main reason that its standard of writing is sinking down."He criticised the Pakistan Academy of Letters that "it does not give proper attention to the languages and literatures of the peoples of Pakistan. Instead it has been imposing its own brands of literature and culture. Its publications are limited to the group of literary monopolisers created and fed by it. Other peoples would not know if there exists any such institution at national level which is bound constitutionally to work for their literatures and cultures. It has opened an office in Peshawar also which has no knowledge of literary activities out of the city. Should it be considered as the office for Peshawar city?"Mentioning Abaseen Arts Council and Mardan Arts Council, Andesh said that "they are the monsters created for devouring the languages and cultures of the peoples in their respective jurisdictions. They have been given over to non-Pakhtuns or controlled directly by the bureaucracy. Abaseen Arts Council has successfully created a rift between the Pakhtuns and Hindko peakers which is played up skillfully by the government.""We have welcomed establishment of the Pakhto board. It should have been done long before. Now that it has come into being we hope that all the regions of Pakhtunkhwa should be given due representation in it. It should work and show its output to justify its existence and the expenditures," said Andesh.The main reason for shortage of prose in Pashto is lack of projection. In our educational institution quotations from Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-78) are taught that "the child should not learn even a word of other languages during the first 13-14 years of his life". But the practice in these institutions is in the reverse. Education and economic considerations are two important elements which contribute to propagation of literature. We are deprived of both. Our education changes the people into some different specie. Even the Pakhto books of primary level do not contain information about Pakhtuns and Pakhto.With all his pessimist ideas, Shamsul Qamar Andesh is quite hopeful of the new generation which, according to him, is doing a lot for survival of Pakhto. He refers to a programme of BBC in which it was pointed out that Pakhto is the only language which survives in spite of the facts that it lacks publication and education facilities and patronage of the government, because it is preserved by the people.Andesh tends more to ghazal and has politicised it. It is not political but political romanticism. He expresses his ideas and views adroitly in the language of ghazal. Muhammad Iqbal Iqbal considers Andesh the poet of ghazal, following strictly, devotedly and rigidly the principles set for this form. He presents the sourness of imagination in the plate of heart, over the flames of blood, with sweet taste of life. He sings passionate lores of vivacious imagination and thought for the Pakhtuns. Dr Israr expresses his apprehension that if Andesh did not publish his poetry, it would spread on its own to that extent that he himself would not be able to claim his own poetry.
[Translated by Dr. Sherzaman Taizi]
Deserted are paths and water-spots;
What a country has such an afternoon?
I know, I live well;But my sense is poor.
Reflections of your memory;
Are the assets that I have.
What else should I ask for, my friend!
That I have the pains of love.
In flames of your thoughts, I am;
This is my life and this is my art.
The make-up of the spring,
Sparks envy between my love and the flower.
Desert, noose or mountain,
Every where is your story.
The spring is not your match,
Whereas it's self-sufficient in all respects.
It looks out of the fence of garden,
That the flower has come out of itself.
How could I reconciliate with my flower!
That my own self has gone hostile.
In the night of your thoughts,
Every look is door to the morning.

I obey my sense,
That I work in the art of poetry.
The spring of your beauty is rosy,For I look after it with love.
I kiss every pain with blood of my heart,
Painting flowers in my life.
O my heart! it's nature that I love,
Nothing to beg from others.
Not confined to the boundaries of your beauty,
My love is much more vast.
What should I say about the beauty and treachery,
What should I forsake love for.
In the light of your indifferent thought,I am restless like a moth.
I am slave of my conscience,
That is the reason that I am proud. [Tr.SZT]
(Courtesy; daily Frontier Post, Pesahwar; 14 August 1993)

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