Ahmed Faraz, one of Pakistan’s leading poets, was censured and imprisoned for his emancipatory ideas and revolutionary poetry. He also lived in exile for some years. We publish Faraz’s poem ‘Quit Killing Voices (Mat Katl Karo Aawaazon Ko)’ which was translated into Turkish by late Retired Colonel Masood Akhtar Shaikh.
You pierce through every heart
The spears of your own beliefs
We are the people of love
Why do you wield daggers at us?
Let the melodies flow in this city
So what if we continue to live in this village?
We are flower-growers
We are the guardians of fragrances
Whose blood have you come to drink?
We are the teachers of the lesson of love
After the death of letters
Nothing remains in this city
When the melodies are put to the sword,
When our poems migrate,
When our instruments are killed,
When voices diminish too,
When our city becomes desolated,
Who would you stone then?
You would be afraid of even seeing
Your own faces in the mirror…
(*): Ahmad Faraz, whose real name is Syed Ahmad Shah, was born on January 12, 1931, in the city of Kohat, in the Sarhad (NWFP) province, now known as the Khyber Paktunkhwa. One of Pakistan’s most celebrated poets, Ahmad Faraz started his poetry with romantic poems. Completing his master’s degrees in Persian and Urdu, Faraz began to write social poems by exploring at a young age the harsh realities of life and the problems of the common people. Under the influence of the Pakistani Progressive Writers Movement, he conveyed his revolutionary ideas to the public through lyrical poems he composed in an appealing tone. For the rest of his life, he wrote poems under the same influence that resisted against political persecution and exploitation. Defending the rights of people on the street against injustice with an impressive language of poetry, Faraz gained international fame in a short time and published 13 poetry books, the first of which was named ‘Tanha Tanha’ and were translated into several languages. The poems of Ahmed Faraz, who was imprisoned for a while due to his political ideas and had to leave Pakistan on self-imposed exile especially during the rule of the former President of Pakistan, Zia-ul-Haq, have been composed as songs and sung by renowned Pakistani singers since the 1990s, further increasing Faraz’s popularity among people. Over the years, he presided over many important public institutions such as the Pakistan Academy of Letters, the Lok Virsa Folklore Institute and the National Book Foundation. Ahmed Faraz, who died on August 25, 2008 in Islamabad and is considered the second most popular social poet in Pakistan after Faiz Ahmad Faiz, was awarded the civilian Hilal-e-Pakistan award by the Government of Pakistan posthumously for his contributions to Urdu language and literature.
Retired Colonel Masood Akhtar Shaikh, who translated the poem ‘Mat Qatl Karo Awazon Ko (Quit Murdering Voices)’ into Turkish, was born in 1928. He published more than 26 books, including the compilations of his newspaper articles, along with mutual translations in Turkish, Urdu and English for many years. Masood Akhtar Shaikh, who passed away in Islamabad in March 2020, received awards from authorities both in Pakistan and Turkey for his significant role in promoting the Turkish literature in Pakistan.