Shaheryar Ali

Martyr Shabana

Martyr Shabana

Shabana’s bullet ridden body was found slumped on ground in the centre of Mingora’s green square, strewn with money, CD recording of her performances and photographs from her albums. Shabana was a traditional singer and dancing girl from Swat. She was brutally murdered for defying the ban imposed by Taliban. A Taliban leader later appeared on the FM Radio [which our most professional Army with one of the best technical skills, failed to block and claimed it was impossible to do so and which resulted in satirical responses from rival Indian Army as well as from distinguished physicist Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy] and claimed the responsibility for her murder and warned that the Taliban will not tolerate any “un Islamic vices”

This all started when, enlightened and progressive General Pervez Musharraf , who than enjoyed the support of Judiciary [Honourable Justice Iftikhar including], the “civil” society, liberal Imran Khan, gave the province of NWFP to Mullahs of MMA , who in return passed the 17 amendment and legalized Musharraf’s coup. The conscientious judges followed suit.  Molana Fazul-ur Rehman and Qazi Hussein Ahmad enjoyed the fruits of governance for years and later became voices of democracy along with conscientious judges, civil society and of course Imran Khan! The 5 year rule of MMA in NWFP [Pakhtoonkhawa] resulted in banning of music, destruction of arts including the commercial Arts. The thugs of Jamate Islami blackened the feminine figures on the billboards in Peshawar. The traditional bazaars where music instruments were made and sold and where the artists and artisans lived were targeted by police and moral bigots who forced most of these people to flee the province. When MMA left, the province was in the hands of Taliban and Shabana got murdered.

A lot was written in foreign press, Shabana couldn’t finds even a two column10 space in our “free media”, just like that poor Pushto singer who was murdered in Peshawar a few days back. The girl was not even named! Only one who lamented Shabana was “buri auart”, that communist and Indian agent Kishwar Naheed. A representative of second wave feminism, who is now expressing the 3rd wave sensitivities, Naheed was part of the pro-communist Afro-Asian writers association with Faiz Ahmad Faiz. A living witness to the progressive movement and the tradition of resistance literature and Art, Naheed’s response to the times of Jihad has been a collection of poetry which has been titled Wehshat aur barrod mein lipti hue shairi”. ‘Poetry wrapped in explosives and barbarism. The poetry is the expression of a true artist living in the age of Jihad and Crusade! The moral relativism demonstrated by most of newly emerged pro-imperialist liberals by their silence on crimes of United States imperialism in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia and Pashtunkhawa, is not to be seen in this work by a great progressive. Whilst the focus of the book remains the Islamist barbarism, one finds echoes of Guantanamo bay, Fallujah and Sarajevo as well. The book includes touching poems on lost comrades like Ahmad Fraz, Benazir Bhutto and Edward Said.

Buddha crying in Swat

Buddha crying in Swat

Hundreds of years old historic statues of Lord Buddha were also wrapped in explosives and were blown. This monstrous attack on Pashtun history and cultural identity also took place during General Pervez Musharff’s golden rule. September 2007, the giant Buddha in Swat dating from 2nd century BC, was attacked twice in 20 days. The Taliban worked in broad day light putting dynamite with help of drill machines. The BBC, Hindustand Times, Dawn and Daily Times reported and highlighted the issue, but nothing was done and Taliban, re attacked it after 20 days. There was hardly any news in Urdu press; no protests were seen in any city of Pakistan. The free media channels of Pakistan also showed a complete apathy. Now Taliban are blowing humans in Swat. The attack of Taliban on statues and silent collaboration of MMA government scarred the artists especially those who earned their living craving Buddha sculptures which were popular amongst tourists.

The Seriaki speaking Pashtun city, Dera Ismail Khan, also known as DI Khan, the fusion of seraiki and Pushto civilization gave the city a unique status. A cultural hub, it was once known as “Dera Phulla’n da Sehra” [Dera is garland of flowers!]. After destruction of Jhang , this city has seen the curse of Jihad! Hundreds of people have been murdered. For years now target killing of Shia population and progressive artists and intellectuals is going on. Silence is the criminal response of Pakistan. The facts are buried in media grand meta-narrative of “sectarian violence”. There is no sectarian violence in DI Khan, there is no rift or collusion between any two sects which are living together for hundreds of years. What’s going on is an Anti-Shia holocaust by Jihadis: Target killing of intellectuals, writers and artists.

Philosopher, poet and linguist, author of 22 books Jamshaid Nayab , was tortured and his bullet ridden body was thrown in front of his house in DI Khan. The Molana praised the act of killing Kaffirs like him in the Friday sermon. Mr Nayab was an intellectual par excellence, a refined poet who authored books of history of western philosophy, on languages and civilization. He belonged to progressive tradition of intellectuals. He was member of the Communist Party of Pakistan. The left wing intellectuals and political activists have been the main target of Jihadi/Taliban forces in Pakistan. More than 450 socialists/Marxist/nationalists political activists have been murdered in Swat and Pashtunkhawa Most activists of PPP and ANP who have been murdered in Pashtunkhawa were those who belonged to socialists/Marxist wings within these parties. It must be noted 98% of  attacks and murders of political activists by Taliban are on 3 parties PPP, ANP and CPP  [all left wing parties]Many of these activists were poets and artists as well or main organizers of art and cultural activities in their regions. Great Urdu poet Mohsin Naqvi also fell a victim to these Jihadi forces in the 90s. His crimes were multifold, being a poet [Koran explicitly condemns poets and poetry in Chapters of Poets], was Shia , was progressive and socialist and supported PPP. He also famously wrote a poem on Benazir Bhutto. The poem has acquired a mythical status “Ya Allah Ya Rasool—–Benazir Beqasoor”

Music is a inseparable part of Pakhtoon culture and tradition. Pakhtoons have never lived without music and dance! For the first time such a thing is happening. The shrine of greatest Pashtu poet and Sufi, Rehman Baba was blown up by the Taliban. Rehman Baba had played a central role in building Pashtun identity, language and tradition. A humanist his poetry teaches peace, love and tolerance. He was known as “Nightingale of Pashtunkawa”. Barbarism didn’t spare the most sacred place of the Pashtun Culture. Hundreds of music centers and shops have been destroyed. Years back , great revolutionary and Marxist academic Eqbal Ahmad vested Kandahar of Taliban. He saw a graveyard of Pashtun culture and tradition. The living Kandahar of coffee houses, story tellers and musicians was no where to be seen. He wrote his impressions in form an article which was titled “Land without Music”. Now Pakistan is becoming the Land without Music.

To be continued


When Taliban target a city, their usual first act is to throw leaflets in the Music and DVD shops ordering them to shut down these because music is obscene and is destroying the moral character of the “youth”. After than they threat the traders of suicide bombings. Next step is a ritualistic burning of CDs and DVDs.
When they take over an area, they ban music, on their check posts , they destroy the CD players of any car which comes by. They destroy all tapes and CDs.
They threaten and torture the local singers and artists who they call prostitutes [dancing girls].
In Swat they brutally murdered a famous singer Shabana because she was “destroying the moral fabric of the society”
Our great Whiskey drinking champion of secularism Aitzaz Ahsan and the corrupt manipulator of foreign aid [Which has resulted in NGO becoming richer and the poor, poorer] the Civil Society for the last two years sat in the lap of religious Right which included fascist Jamate Islami and center right PML-N and de-railed the Anti-Taliban agenda of the secular parties which are in a very week coalition in name of “restoration of judiciary” which according to them was the greatest tool to fight Taliban and all over crisis facing Pakistan.
Today our “free judiciary”, Lahore Hight Court banned 41

Nasebo Lal

Nasebo Lal

Albums of two singers Nasebo Lal and Noora’n Lal both of which belong to the poorest of the poor “Gypsy” tribes of Pakistan who live by singing on the streets. Their halmark is to use a special milk pot, known as “gadvi” as a music instrument. These singers are known for their explicit and erotic songs which have traditionally made them popular in lower classes. Nasebo and Nora’n were discovered by film Industry and made them into two of the most popular singers in Pakistan. Of course our English speaking elites find them “distasteful” and “vulgar”. They only listen to AC/DC and Punk Rock and other western pop/rock music which preaches Bible.
The PML-N govt which these pseudo secular goons have brought back with help of Army had previously banned dancing in Lahore as well and also held a “dvd burning” in Lahore.
Now, their obsession free Judiciary has banned these two singers bcz they were destroying the morals of our youth. The 80% dispossessed who listened to these erotic songs have been saved. Our Urban lads and our bloggers with their broadband connections and air conditioned homes have full access to tons of porn un regulated, and they keep writing on “Shanakth festival” thus de-contextualizing fascism.
Pakistan has become Eqbal Ahmad’s “Land Without Music” and i suggest that Aitzaz Ahsan and Civil society and our Army-ISI -Judiciary worshiping and Zardari hating secular community should dance on Aitzaz Ahsan’s poem with beats of Taliban’s bullets and rhythm of free judiciary

Adal Bina Jamhoor na ho ga—
A democracy with censorship. Congratulation , after releasing Molana Aziz of Red Mosque by free judiciary this is our 2nd step toward Lawyer-civil society’s Utopian society

The great fruits of Long March continue—

If one looks at the cultural history of Muslims in India, its hard to ignore the festival of Nowruz: The spring festival of Persia and central Asia which marks the start of spring of the start of Persian New Year. For more than a thousand years Nowroz was an official festival of the imperial courts in Dehli and Agra. Later it enjoyed the support of the princely states like Awadh and Hyderabad. Most Indians may remember K.Asif’s epic Moghul e Azam , which shows Jashen e Nowruz of Moghul court.

Nowruz was not just a fashion of muslim elites of India, rather it had a multi-dimensional character. After the Arab-muslim conquest of Persia, the festival of Nowruz became the symbol of a cultural resistance against Arabization and Arab imperialism. With the alliance of the sunni clerical establishment with the Caliphate in Baghdad after the initial resistance of the great Sunni Imams like Abu-Hanifa , Imam Malik and others , the Persian metaphysics and culture came under increasing attack from the state in name of Islam.

imamalishahadat07kr8 The resistance movements in the conquered and converted lands of Arab empire took shape of an “alternative” understanding of Islam, one which was radically different from vision of Abbasids and their supporters the Sunni clerics. The converted people looked towards their traditional philosophies, mythologies and cultural symbologies to understand Islam. Result was development of mysticism and different shades of Shia Islam. It must be understood that the political movement of proto- Shia was predominantly an Arab phenomenon with no theological differences with the proto-sunnis. The theological shia emerged quite later just as the their sunni counter part as the result of looking at Islam through the rich metaphysical tradition of Persians, Coptics, Nestorians, Arians and Pagans. The constant friction between the Ismaili Fatmid and Abbasid Empire played a great role. Its easily forgotten today that what is today dismissed as “heresy” was once the official Islam of half of the Moslem world and its continuous dawa in Abbasid lands made it “people’s religion” in other. Many “sanits” or Sufis could very much be Ismaili dais. Sufism shows a great resemblance to Ismaili theology esp in its understanding of concept of “beyond”. An account of this process with the resultant dissent in Islam is explained here and here.

Haft Sen

Haft Sen

In this environment Nowruz, the ancient festival of Persia was re-invented by the Shia and Sufi theologians as a potent symbol of resistance against Arab cultural invasion as well as against the rigid and loyalist Islam. Since most of the resistance against Arab imperialism was surrounding one or another Alavite cause, Nowruz was linked with the Holy House of Muhammed, whose status was under attack by the Arab rulers, Against the de-mystifying attempts of Abbasid and their loyalist clerics against Muhammed and Alavites, the Sufis and Shia trends merged both of them with the ancient Gnostic metaphysics with which the conquered people were very familiar. Nowruz became the day when Ali was awarded the “wilayah” in time before Time began. It was the day of Muhammed’s declaration of prophet hood in the zone beyond time, it was the day universe was created, and the day when Mehdi will deliver humanity from tyranny

Through Sufi teaching and its accompanying Ismaili dawa the festival reached the Sunni lands of Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakhtoonkhawa, India, Turkey, Albania and Bosnia. Kurds also adopted the day due to the esoteric mystic tradition which mostly had Ismaili relations. With formation of Pakistan and its increasing Arabaization and State sponsored Anti Shia militancy, festival of Nowruz has virtually gone into obscurity. Its not that Nowruz is not celebrated in Pakistan, it is widely celebrated but is ignored. Even Pakistan’s self pro-claimed progressives and secularists who have a mantra of tolerance and pluralism on their lips 24/7 are insensitive to an “alternative cultural expression”.

Shias make a sizeable population in Pakistan and they celebrate Nowruz as an “Eid”, special ceremonies and prayers are offered in the Imam Bargahs , sweets, fruits, perfumes, flowers usually mark the offerings of Nowruz. The Aga Khani Ismaili community also celebrates Nowruz in Pakistan. In certain Northern areas of Pakistan which have Shia and Ismaili majority Nowruz has a very potent cultural expression. All of this fails to find any representation in mainstream Pakistan, result is an average educated Urban Pakistani simply doesn’t know about Nowruz. The Pakistani intellectuals are usually busy lecturing India on tolerance and pluralism on issues like Varun Gandhi etc etc and usually don’t care about such small things. The Shia holocaust in Pakistan also goes un noticed by most of our secular-progressive-sufi- Elitist intellectuals. Thanks to them no one in Pakistan knows whats going on against Shias in Parachinar and other areas. A fellow blogger Abdul recently spoke about this criminal silence by those who have a claim to Alternative media in Pakistan. Here is the article by Abdul and other links about Anti Shia holocaust going on in Pakistan. Here , here and Here. Most of our protests on these issues are also met with the same response. Indifference

Pakistani Shias celebrated this Nowruz with an increasing awareness of Talibanization. Yet another Pakistani community celebrates Nowruz. It’s the Bahai community. Scattered through out Pakistan, the Bahai community leads life of invisibility due to “cultural holocaust and apartheid” which is order of the day in Pakistan. Bahai’s through out Pakistan celebrated Nowruz.

Bahai star

Bahai star

The Persian speaking people of Pakistan [this is yet another information for an average educated Pakistani, that there exist people in Pakistan whose mother tongue is Persian] also celebrates Nowruz. Darri speaking [Afghani Persian] Hazaras of Baluchistan also celebrate Nowruz. [Yet another victim of state sponsored holocaust]

Yet another Pakistani community which celebrates Nowruz is the Zoroastrian community commonly known as the “Parsi community”. The community is trying to preserve the ancient pre-Islamic heritage of Iran. Geographically Nowruz is celebrated with greater enthusiasm in Karachi, Quetta, Peshawer, Northern Areas of Pakistan especially Hunza valley, Gilget and Baldistan , Multan and Kashmir. In Pakistan the customs of Nowruz are different than those of Iran.

In Pakistan Nowruz is mostly celebrated as “Alam Afrouz” or the new day. People dress up and visit each other. There are special ceremonies and “aamal” and prayers in Imam Bargahs and Jamat Khanas. Hina, bangles and eidi are also part of Nowruz celebration. In villages the practice of burning wood logs and jumping over it was an established practice on Nowruz but now has almost died. Special sweets like “laddo”, ”rus malai”, ”gulab jaman” “cream rolls” and Suhan Halva are made on this day. These sweets plus roses and perfumes replace the tradition “Haft sen” of Nowruz,

Since in mystic and Shia theology Nowruz is the day to celebrate the wilayah of Ali and house of Muhammed , I have selected a “Ginan”, which are the mystic lyrics wrote of Saints of Indo-Pk , many of them were Ismaili dais [as the Ismaili history is slowly being de-mystified] in praise of the Imams who were in occultation in those days. Shamas the mysterious mystic was also an Ismaili dai who introduced Rumi to “Batin”, what lies beyond the words of Quran.

This particular Ginan is being offered by none other than Queen of mystic music Abida Parveen and it speaks about the “Raj”, the Millennium when charismatic Imams, the continuation of Koranic symbology of Noor-un-ala-noor will rule the humanity. The start of this was affirmation of Ali in realm of spirits an act which is symbolized in day of Nowruz. In modern times this Ginan is specially recited on coronation of the Aga Khan the “Hazir Imams”, the continuation of Ismaili Imamat and the most philosophical rich movement in Islam whose metaphysics contributed a lot in development of mysticism. The devotion of Abida Parveen is worth seeing, a truly spiritual experience. HE Prince Karim Aga Khan, the Hazir Imam can be seen enjoying the Ginan.

“Strange Fruit” is a song which has always inspired me, it has made me cry, it has motivated me, it has aroused passion in me, and it has made me experience sorrow and grief all at the same times. Result is that it has become a strong inspiration for me. Sung by the legendary Billie Holiday based on the lyrics of a Jewish school teacher who was member of American Communist Party, the song is one of the strongest Artistic protests against Racism and Fascism. The bodies of young Negro lads hanging on tress after being lynched by God fearing, patriotic white Americans became allegorical symbols for poetic expression as “strange fruits”.

Taliban Justice, Pakhtunkhuawa

Taliban Justice, Pakhtunkhuawa

It’s not just a piece of music, or a piece of history which gives liberals kick thinking romantically of the “struggle” and than being grateful to American democracy which has defeated racism. The song and what it represents is some thing greater. When these crimes were being committed people were silent. Those were killing blacks were ordinary people church going people who thought they were doing a service to community. It was all being done in the name America, its values, and its national interest. When Abel Meeropol wrote the lyrics, he used a pseudonym Lewis Allan. Billie Holiday who sung it had to face persecution. Columbia refused to record this song. But these people persisted. They had to defy their country’s law and perceived interest to bring change. They dissented, they resisted and they protested.

Pakistani society is slowly giving in to Fascism. Our intellectuals are so obsessed with state and its interest that they are blind to the crimes being committed. In 71 they remained silent on Bengali Genocide. I have written about this before as well, here. All this was in the name of “national interest”. Now Baluchistan is the “scotoma” in Pakistani consciousness. Pakistan’s colonialism in Baluchistan is reaching its final oppressive stages. The case of Zarrina Murree was still fresh and no outrage was noticed in public opinion and now young student activist Qambar Baluch has gone “missing”. Malik Siraj Akbar of Daily times says here:

“There are confirmed reports that Qambar Baloch, a student of the 8th semester in Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) department at the Balochistan University of Information Technology and Management Sciences (BUITMS), has gone ‘missing’. He ‘disappeared’ on 12 February from Quetta city where he had been invited by some officials ‘to come for investigations’. Bold enough to face his investigators, Qambar had fixed the district compound area for the meeting with the ‘unidentified caller’ where he would meet him. Since then no one knows about his whereabouts.”

Qambar Baluch, Missing

Qambar Baluch, Missing

Unspeakable crimes are being done in Baluchistan, extra judicial killings, torture, dispossession of whole population, a slow genocide of a sort but no news comes in the media. The simple sleeping pill our intellectuals have is “RAW” being involved in Baluchistan. With this Pakistani state gets right to do any thing it wants and no one will say a thing. Our collective “Big Bad India Syndrome”. Baluch anger is now out of control. The Nationalist, whom Pakistani establishment has been suppressing since day 1 and who despite that have remained pro Pakistan are now becoming irrelevant in front of angry young Baluch who are now fighting for “freedom”. A clear “Post nationalist” turn is visible in Baluch resistance. Unlike Baluch nationalists who were Marxists, Socialists and modernists. The post nationalist resistance is racist, violent and increasingly adopting International terrorist paradigm. This type of terrorism was virtually unheard of in Left wing military insurgencies. John Solecki’s kidnapping clearly indicating the influence of tactics of Al Qaida . Even more disturbing explanation could be that a part of Baluch

John Solecki , kidnapped

John Solecki , kidnapped

resistance has been infiltrated by Pakistani agencies that have long track record of this kind of terrorism in collaboration with Islamists. Baluchistan is a Bengal in making and Pakistani intellectuals and liberals are once again guilty of silence.

President Zardari today spoke about a “Taliban Take over” this too falls on deaf ears, though he himself is contributing to threat of Fascism by refusing to distance himself from imperialism. Islamic Fascism can never be defeated by USA’s war on terror which as empirical proof suggest has only helped increase it. Ahmad Rashid’s seminal work “Descent in chaos” explains it brilliantly as how United States policy is only causing “failed states”. Taliban’s reign of terror is continuing but it because the theory of “strategic depth” remains in place: Pakistani state keeping its links with groups and playing them against each other. All the networks and infrastructure remains intact. In the state of despair I listen to “Strange Fruit”. I want to believe Faiz Ahmad Faiz but I am loosing hope

Aatay Aatay yun hi dum bhar ku rukki hogi bahar

Jaatay Jaatay yun hi pal bhar ku khizan theri he

(If Autumn is here could Spring be far away?)


Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black body swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees
Pastoral scene of the gallant south
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh
And the sudden smell of burning flesh!
Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

Shaheryar Ali

My memories and understanding of  Taliban come from Eqbal Ahmad’s paper “Land Without Music” . Ahmad has truly captured the horror of post Taliban Kandahar. Taliban are forcing a culture which is totally alien to Pakhtoon tradition. A tradition which is rich in Art and Music. With War on Terror the misguided liberals and modernists who are nohthing but United State’s  drum beaters have spoken about “barbaric tribalism”, “backwardness” and “religios fanaticism of Pakhtoons. With this a new stereotype of Pakhtoon is being  built in Pakistan and in the world, a bearded suicide bomber who is a savage. Pakhtoons are fighting at two fronts. This lovely song in Pushto is one such act of people’s resistance.  A mix crowd of young Pakhtoon boys and girls singing and enjoying is defying the Talibani ban on Music and also exprssing the cultural side of Pakhtoons. I dont understand a single word of Pushto but i enjoyed this song immensely, it was like a breath of fresh air. The joy on the faces of the crowd , their participation , the interaction of boys and girls. The song is a treat to watch

by Shaheryar Ali

“My Politics is mingled with poetry and Romance”

“I have learned politics from Rivers”

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto

I am daughter of Indus, I am daughter of Taxila, I am an heir of this 5000 years old civilization

Benazir Bhutto

“Mein Baghi hoon, Mein Baghi hoon”, “I am a Rebel”

Benazir Bhutto [reciting a poem to millions who came to greet her at Lahore in 86]

Bhuttos were strange people, they became myths in their lives, like the Nehrus, Allendes, Nasirs, Arafats, they were the most loved people of their times. They became the symbol of resistance, their politics merged with folk lore, with music and poetry.

Benazir was perhaps last of this creed of politicians. Every one was angry with her for letting down her father’s socialist policies. No one understood her tragedy, this was the tragedy of the epoch in which she lived. This was the tragedy of Yasser Arafat, this was the tragedy of Hafiz Al Asad. She lived in the epoch of defeat. She lived in the epoch where the Capitalism snuffed out the Revolution of 1917. The dream was dead and the revolutionaries were without history, ideology and support.

In the single day the prophets of “modernism” and “progress” became”outdated” and “relics of the past”. It was this historic compulsion that made gods like Yasir Arafat irrelevant.

What was Benazir’s greatest achievement, she defeated this epoch. She refused to become “irrelevant”. She never led a revolution in Pakistan, but she never allowed reaction to take over either. When Hamas took over Palestine and Hizbollah conquered Lebanon, Bhutto and her party kept the hope alive in Pakistan no matter how weak it was , for the progressive politics. Jamate Islami lost the best opportunity it ever had to take over Pakistan by popularism after 9/11. The slogans of “Al Jihad Al Jihad” were checked by “Roti Kapra aur Makan”.

When she was killed, we understood who she was: ritualistic chest beating started in Skardu and spread to Karachi, the grief and reaction was unprecedented, from small villages and goths poetry emerged, from Jam pur, Bhakkhar, Ghotki, Chagi, Qalat, Waziristan, not the professional poets, but the folk poets, the poets who had sung the songs of 68-69. From Morocco to Korea, From Poland to Congo, From Brazil to Bulgaria creative responses emerged, poetry, music, painting cartoons.

Patti Smith , is also one of those strange people. She is called grandmother of the punk rock”. The western Pop, punk, rock, metal are very political movements, linked with resistence and people politics and peace. This is again the politics mingled with music and romance. Patti Smith delievered an improvised tribute to Benazir Bhutto in New York.

Patti Smith is inducted into the “Rock n Roll hall of fame” and is named a “commander” of “Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” by Ministry of Culture, France.

Here is the poem by her:

 A Tribute To Benazir Bhutto by Patti Smith

wander i go
where chestnut least fall
where had i gone
wades through the trees
with a poem on my sleeve
where have i gone

saw the picture
of a young girl
younger than me
dark haired
and the bright smile
she was walking with her father
in her small village
in far off pakistan
and her father
in the political heart
weeps some blood
to his daughter
she watched him proudly
as he shook the hands of the young girl gandhi
and she saw her life before her

she went to oxford
she went to cambridge
and she was shy and intelligent
they called her ‘pinkie’
she returned to her village

well it doesn’t matter what the story is
it doesn’t matter how it goes
she was a girl with a bright smile and a destiny
had a mission
some of it moulded into democracy
some of it corrupt
some of it innocent
some of it failing
she spent time in prison
she raised her children
she made mistakes
but she wore her veil proudly

she wore her scarf a little like jeanne moreau
she didn’t hide beneath it
she didn’t apologize for it
she tied it and looked beautiful

she could walk into a party
dressed like maria callas
and still have a vision for her people
pretty pretty girl
the men around her
corrupt, greedy who she loved
caused her to fall but she rose back up
because if nothing else
she would empower the women around her
she would give them something behind a smile

she tossed her hat into a dirty arena
because all of politics is filthy,
it’s all filthy
but behind her smile
there was some sense, some sense of hurt
some desire to do something good
and now she’s dead

and the flames shoot
and the people died around her
and what the fuck is it all for
it’s because she was alive
she had a vision
and she died
and others will come
and others will die
and we will keep
we will keep
searching and peeling skins
till we get it right
for just the moment
just a moment
of clarity
just a moment of peace
just a moment of pity
pretty pretty girl
now gone

why should we not follow
why should we not follow
wander I go
where chestnut least fall
where have I gone