Vinod Mubayi and Raza Mir


All milestones are social constructions, but it is good to report this one. We bring to you with pride the 200th issue of the INSAF Bulletin. When the bulletin started, the winds of war were on the horizon. The US invasion of Iraq was being readied, and India-Pakistan relations were on the brink of conflagrating into a direct attack after the Akshardam attacks of September 2002.


We fancied ourselves a voice of peace, in the subcontinent, in North America and elsewhere. Our motto, articulated in hindsight, could be encapsulated in Sahir Ludhianvi’s ringing words:


Bartari ke saboot ki khaatir

Khooñ bahaana hi kya zaroori hai?

Ghar ki taareekiyaañ mitaane ko

Ghar jalaana hi kya zaroori hai?


Jang to khud hi ek masla hai

Jang kya mas’aloñ ka hal degi?

Aag aur khoon aaj bakhshegi

Bhook aur ehtiyaaj kal degi.


To prove one’s superiority

Is it necessary to shed blood?

To eliminate the darkness of the house

Is it necessary to set it ablaze?


War itself is the problem

Not the solution to any

All it will give is fire and blood today

Hunger and beggary tomorrow.


Sixteen years and some have passed, and we remain trapped, either at the brink of war or in some endless version of it. But stubbornly, we articulate the optimism of the will in the face of the pessimism of the intellect. Thanks for being our partner in this ongoing journey. It is also worthwhile to remember our esteemed comrade Daya Varma, who with Vinod, was the co-editor of the bulleting for the first twelve years. Blink an eye, and it has been three and a half years since his passing. And this week, the progressive movement lost yet another stalwart, when Fahmida Riaz, the stalwart poet, passed into the ages in Lahore. An obituary attached below samples some of her work, but we offer a short poem here to remember and honor her. Titled Rajam (Stoning), this stunningly evocative poem savagely excoriates the practice of stoning adulterers, and is inspired by an account of a stoning where a historian narrated how, when a couple was being stoned to death, the man kept trying to shield his doomed lover from the stones that would eventually take both their lives.




Paagal tan mein kyon basti hai

Ye vahshi tareek aarzoo

Bahut qadeem, udaas aarzoo

Taareeki mein chhup jaane ki

Ek lamhe ko

Ek lamhe ko


Rab-e Qahhar! Ye mojiza kya hai?

Tera khalq kiya hua Aadam

Lazzat-e- sang ka kyon khwaahaan hai?

Is ki sahr-zada cheekhon mein

Ye kis barzakh ka naghma hai?

Kya thhi badan ke zakhm ki lazzat?

Betaabi se yoon rakhsaan hai

Har bun-e moonh se surkh-o siyaah lahu ka darya ubal pada hai




In the mad heart does reside

A wild, dark desire

An ancient desire, ineffably sad

To be one with the blackness

For a moment

A moment


My vengeful God! Explain this miracle

That your creation, this Adam

Seeks the pleasures of this mortal stoning

In which limbo was this song born?

Why did the body seek these wounds?

It is as if it dances, impatient

While every wound froths with red and black blood.

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