Dr Maleeha Lodhi

Published in Hilal English Feb 2014

“In an era of strategic flux only competent states will thrive”

• Globalization has turned security into a complex affair. Economic power has to back and complement military strength.

• To capitalize on opportunities, Pakistan must empower itself internally.

• Pakistan’s menu on the security agenda is very heavy and will need leadership and vision to execute.

Dr Maleeha Lodhi is a political scientist, diplomat, journalist and academician. She had been the High Commissioner of Pakistan to the United Kingdom and prior to that, twice as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States. She was Resident Fellow at John F. Kennedy School, Harvard University and a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington. She also served as a member of the United Nations Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Disarmament Affairs. She has also been editor of two newspapers in Pakistan. Her exclusive interview about different security related issues affecting Pakistan at national and international horizon was conducted for Hilal’s readers.

Asif Jehangir Raja

Q. How do you describe international security setting in post-Cold War scenario? Does it necessitate any change particularly in small states' security paradigm that often revolved around alliance and reliance on one of the power blocs?

Answer: We have gone past a post-Cold War world. What is this new era and how do we describe it? It is an era of strategic flux where world is in transition. What is it transitioning to? We don't know yet. But what we do know is that the global power is shifting from the maleeha2West primarily to China, and also, as the expression goes, from West to the Rest. At the same time power is dispersing among states and away from the states. States do not enjoy the authority once they did due to the globalized and borderless world we live in. So if you look at what the international scenario or context is, this is defined by three major features; first, the power shift from the West to China as the economic centre of gravity moves to Asia. The second defining trend is the pace and velocity of technological change, which is transforming everyone's life. This leads me to the third feature. Power is devolving from the state to the individuals who are becoming more empowered thanks to the electronic and social media, the communications revolution and the new networked technology.

So we are looking at a world fundamentally different from what is called the post-Cold War world. That world was fairly predictable and there were many certainties. The world which we live in today has fewer certainties, yet it is a world of great promise and opportunity. It is also a world of great challenges. And when you ask what this world offers to the small or medium sized states and what kind of security arrangements should these states have, we are returning to a bi-polar era where states had to line up with one or the other power, and the world was divided into two camps. Today’s world is moving in a multipolar direction.

This multipolarity is not only among states. The world has many poles of power, where power is not held by states but increasingly shared with large corporations, media or other organisations and non-state actors. So we are witnessing a very different kind of world which actually provides great deal of opportunity for small states if they are competent, efficient and have the capacity to innovate, and if they have what is increasingly the currency of power in the global system economic power. If small and medium states are economically strong, they can aspire to play a more significant role in the international system.

When we look at the world in next 20-25 years, we see two poles on the economic matrix, China and the United States. However, on the other fronts, there will be other poles. Time will tell as to how states will leverage themselves in this new world with two economic poles and other poles based on other indices of power. I think the challenge is great but so is the opportunity. Globalization is offering more and varied possibilities to transform themselves, become internationally relevant and more prosperous.

Q. Today's world is globalized and economically interdependent. What does this mean for international politics? How do you see smaller states exercising political and economic sovereignty in this scenario?

Answer: The assumption that economically interdependence will automatically lead to politically integration is not being borne out. We see two trends existing side by side. The first is economic interdependence that is increasing in a globalized and shrinking world. But alongside that we are also witnessing an assertion of national sovereignty. We are not seeing economic interdependence leading to the nations foregoing national sovereignty. For example, in order to negotiate better trade deals, nations assert themselves and benefit as a result. Also we see the co-existence of strategic competition and economic interdependence. So the assumption that economic interdependence will make strategic competition disappear has not materialized. The best example is the Sino-US relationship, which has elements of economic engagement but also strategic competition, especially after the US announced its policy of rebalancing or pivoting to Asia.

Q. In 1980s in general and particularly at the end of the Cold War in 1991, China appears to be following the policy of engagement and economic cooperation with the US? How does China figure out as a power centre supporting the countries that face estranged relations with the US?

Answer: The fundamental driver of China's international and foreign policy is its unwavering commitment to the goal of economic development and progress, and its objective of becoming a global economic power. That's where the policy of peaceful co-existence and engagement with the West comes from. It stems from the domestic strategic goal of lifting millions of people from poverty, that China has managed to do, and also ensuring that it makes the transition from a developing country, as it still calls itself so, to a developed nation.

And because this strategic goal overrides everything else, China has been following a policy of engagement with the West and it does not want to see any turbulence in global politics as well in its relations with the United States. At the same time China believes the US sees it maleeha3as a future strategic challenger and therefore believes that the US is following a dual track policy, of engaging and containing China.

The Chinese are responding to this dual track policy but at the same time seeking to maintain a stable relationship with the US to achieve their domestic goals. This is a good example that we, in Pakistan, should closely follow, even emulate. I am saddened when people in our country continue to look to the West for models whereas we have China's example before us. Like every other country, Pakistan must follow its own distinct path, but China shows us how to follow a single goal of domestic strengthening and how to align foreign policy goals with domestic goals so as to achieve both. You strengthen yourself domestically and economically so that you can act more effectively on the international scene. You can't do the reverse. I don't think China will encourage countries to have hostile relations with the US when Beijing itself wants a non-hostile relationship with the West. China will protect its interests and it draws a line at where its vital interests lie when dealing with Western countries. I think China also urges other countries to select and follow their own path to development and not look outside, just like it has done. When the Chinese Premier visited Pakistan, he repeated the advice his predecessors had given to Pakistani leaders: identify the path of development that you wish to follow and then stick to it, and don't allow anybody else to impose or dictate to you from outside. But if you don't choose your path, outsiders will have the ability and means to dictate to you.

Q. How much has globalization affected the state and do you foresee any other manifestation replacing or rendering the state irrelevant in the future? What are the challenges in this regard?

Answer: We are witnessing a trend where the state's monopoly of power is being eroded, both vertically and horizontally, in other words erosion from within and outside as we live in an increasingly borderless world. However the state still remains a formidable source of power, both in the international system and geographical boundaries. The state, in the foreseeable future, will remain the main actor in the international system and I don't think that the rise of other diverse actors, whether non-state or other actors, are going to displace the state. The state will continue to be there, but with its authority eroded. So it will have to find new ways to exercise its power and establish control over its territory, and search for the best possible vehicle to preserve and protect its interests in an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world. A balance will have to be struck between defending and protecting national sovereignty and the imperative of international cooperation, which often requires foregoing a bit of sovereignty. Competent states will strike the right balance. States that are incompetent have a very bleak future; it is not just economic or military power, which determines a country's strength and well being. It is how efficiently a state performs both nationally and in the international system, that determines its fortunes.

If we apply this lesson to Pakistan, we must rebuild state institutions because over a period of time the state's writ has eroded. For example, the core functions of state are the power to tax, the power to maintain law and order and deliver basic services to citizens. All these have been decaying. We must rebuild them if Pakistan is to become a competent state responsive to the needs of its people. And competent so as to deliver to people what they want. People want, as those elsewhere in the world do, security, economic opportunities, provision of basic amenities including education, and a secure, brighter future for their children. To achieve this, Pakistan must strengthen itself internally, raise resources and rebuild state institutions that have lost credibility over a period of time. Our governments must remain responsive to what people want rather than seek narrow political gains.

Q. What is the actual potential of Indo-US Strategic Partnership and how does it affect other states in the region?

Answer: Even before the US announced its policy of pivoting or rebalancing to Asia, it was felt that Washington was moving in a direction where it sought to contain China's rise. This implied that the US would start lining up countries as allies that could be potential counterweights to China. There was a feeling in the region including Pakistan that India might emerge in that US-assigned role of a strategic counterbalance to China. Now much as the US may have wanted to do that, and it struck a civilian nuclear deal with India for that purpose. India's own behaviour in the last several years suggested that while it was happy to leverage America's outreach to Delhi it did not want to play the role of US pawn in any new great game or new cold war.

We, in Pakistan, have to carefully assess the extent of any role that India might play in America's containment of China strategy. India's expansive economic relations with China are important to factor in. The annual trade between India and China is now around one hundred billion dollars. India would not want to jeopardize its economic relationship with China for the sake of acting as a counterweight in the strategy of an extra-regional power. But it might still play off US anxiety about China and seek Western support to build India as a global power. For example it will use US support to try to get a permanent seat in United Nations Security Council (UNSC), if there is ever that body is reformed.

Pakistan is certainly affected by certain aspects of the strategic partnership between India and US. The Civilian Nuclear Deal between the two has had adverse consequences for Pakistan's security and for the strategic equilibrium in the region. We all know that this deal destabilized the nuclear deterrence established between both countries after the nuclear tests of 1998. This disturbed the strategic stability of the region. Later, India emboldened by US support, also began to evolve proactive military doctrines directed against Pakistan, which posed new security challenges for us. Naturally Pakistan had to take steps to respond to that and restore strategic equilibrium.

The Indo-US strategic relationship will have to be watched very carefully and Pakistan will have to respond what it believes will be any adverse consequences for its security. At the same time, Pakistan will have to be careful and not exaggerate the significance of this relationship. Panic is never a good foundation for any policy. And frankly there is nothing to panic about as Pakistan has the strategic means to defend itself against external aggression.

Q. If Central Asia is seen as an 'economic hub' by the West, and India as an 'Investment Destination', then how do you see the West approaching the countries that serve as 'Trade Corridor' from Central Asia to India? How should these states safeguard their legitimate interests?

Answer: We have to recognize that many competing visions have been articulated for future regional economic cooperation. For example, the US has talked about the New Silk Road which they believe should link India with the economies of Central Asia and which also envisages regional economic ties between Afghanistan, Central Asian states and India through transit trade facilities which Pakistan is supposed to provide. But we have to recognize that China opposes this idea, and instead called for promoting the ancient Silk Road as the means for regional cooperation. I agree that you don't have to create a New Silk Road, which is driven by the strategic interests of outsider powers. We have to take into consideration regional aspirations and historic linkages among states of our region and also respect the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's (SCO) vision for regional cooperation. I don't think we should accept that there is only one vision, which will be implemented and will materialize. We have to see how the regional states themselves respond to these competing visions. I believe that regional initiatives that are indigenous will have a chance of success, not those imposed from outside or that have a strategic purpose to contain China. It is too early to say that how states might line up because we simply don't know which vision will muster more support and become a reality.

Q. How do you see Indian and Chinese investment in Afghanistan? Any possible convergence of economic interests by the two in post-2014 Afghanistan?

Answer: Both India and China have played and are going to play very different roles in Afghanistan. But before I answer your question let me say that among almost all states in the region, including Pakistan, China, Iran and India, no country wants to go back to the bad old days of the 1990s when Afghanistan became an arena of proxy conflict between neighbouring states. I don't think that any country wants the revival of a 1990s-type situation because it had such devastating consequences for the entire region, especially Pakistan. After Afghanistan, it was people of Pakistan that suffered the most. It is in that context that we should look for possibilities for regional cooperation to help stabilise Afghanistan. If we start to look at Afghanistan as an arena for strategic competition, I don't think that any country will be a winner. India has sought to build relations with Afghanistan on the basis of traditional ties as well as their assistance to Afghanistan's economic development. I have no issue with if this is what Afghanistan wants, as this is their sovereign decision. It is any military or security role for India in Afghanistan that is of concern to Pakistan. As for pressure on Pakistan, this the country can handle. For example the issue of opening the transit trade route can be settled through negotiations. Nothing is for free.

There is no need to be apprehensive and we need to view regional economics as an opportunity. We need to see how best we can maximize our advantage. Like any other country, we are not a static entity. When the world around us is dynamic and it is changing, we must adapt and adjust to changing realities while protecting our interests. Fear is the worst foundation to base any kind of policy, whether security or foreign. It must be predicated much more on positivity while of course, keeping our security interests in mind. The largest foreign investment in Afghanistan is still represented by projects in which China has a stake. But their two major projects are currently on the hold due to the security situation. Pakistan should look at long-term goals and see how best can we take advantage of the economic interest that China or others may have in Afghanistan. This will help promote regional stability.

Q. How much independent, influential and credible is Russian support in any international power game affecting a smaller state?

Answer: The Syrian crisis has marked the re-assertion of Russian diplomacy. The US, duly backed by the UK and France, was contemplating military action against Syria on the issue of the alleged use of chemical weapons. It was a Russian initiative to find a diplomatic solution that led to an avoidance of military conflict, which to me was a win-win situation for everyone. Although the Syrian crisis is not yet over, it provided an avenue for the Russians to assert themselves and become a more active diplomatic player on the international scene. But in the next 20-25 years, I do not foresee any tripolar system, if I can call it that. I see two economic poles, China and United States, and then I see other countries playing an influential role depending on the particular issue. So when you say that Russia can somehow be a promoter or protector of small countries, it depends which country are you talking about. Some countries, in Russia's near abroad like Ukraine do look to Russia for support but I don't think many others do beyond that.

Q. What are the security challenges for Pakistan in near and distant future?

Answer: Let me start by saying that Pakistan's security calculus, like that of any other country, is not static. It changes in response to the changing environment. The security calculus of any country is the sum total of its goals, the resources it has, and the environment. The goals may not change, but resources often do. And the environment changes, too.

If you look at Pakistan's security environment from that perspective, the country faces formidable challenges. These challenges are diverse and many; non-traditional challenges, traditional challenges, hard threats, soft threats as well as direct and indirect threats to our security. The most pressing and urgent challenge is internal. The internal threat to our security comes from deteriorating law and order and a stagnant and ailing economy. Unless the economy grows the threat to social stability will heighten. Pakistan needs to seriously address this internal challenge to its security and stability. Law and order, as you know, is threatened by the forces of violent extremism that Pakistan must defeat. Whether it defeats them through persuasion and talks or tougher law enforcement or a combination of the two, this is critical for Pakistan's future. While dealing with the domestic challenge, Pakistan cannot ignore the external threats to its security for the east and the west.

Despite Pakistan's efforts to revive broad based dialogue with India and pursue a policy of peace and normalisation, the response from the Indian side has been less than encouraging. India has refused to revive the composite dialogue and says that she will only talk on the two 'Ts' , trade & terrorism, not other issues. That poses a great diplomatic challenge for Pakistan, as it must ensure that normalization efforts also involve the resolution of disputes. From a security perspective, Pakistan has to assess what India's conventional military and strategic build up means for Pakistan and it has to devise appropriate responses.

Pakistan has already taken important steps to ensure its security in response to this build up. Pakistan doesn't have to match missile with missile and tank for tank. But it does need credible conventional and nuclear deterrence to secure itself against any adventure from the east. On the western front, we are in a year of transitions in Afghanistan. This is an uncertain transition and we don't know how this will play out. Therefore the security challenge on the western front might intensify in the next year or two. Pakistan would want to avert to the degree it can, any throwback to the 1990s, when the civil war in Afghanistan engulfed the region and destabilized Pakistan. Pakistan doesn't want 2014 to become other 1989. But it also doesn't want to see 2014 becoming 1996, when the Taliban seized Kabul by force of arms.

Pakistan is opposed to any armed group seizing power by violent means. That is why it has long advocated a political settlement that accommodates all Afghan groups. It has promoted a peace process vigorously during the last 2-3 years. The rationale is very simple; Pakistan wants to see peace in Afghanistan as early as possible, a peace that endures. It wants the war to end before all foreign combat forces leave Afghanistan in December 2014. If the war doesn't end by then, the possibility of a low intensity conflict or even a civil war looms larger with the danger of spilling over into our side of the border. This could entail a fresh influx of refugees and further destabilization of our border regions. Pakistan's menu of issues it needs to deal with on the security front is very heavy. The sources of threats are multiple; both internal and external. Pakistan needs to navigate and negotiate this security situation very carefully. The civilian government must lead but it must also ensure that our security institutions are on board and that there is a national consensus on how best to address these varied security threats.

Q. In the past it has been observed that the Indian leadership is not ready to show any flexibility on Kashmir, Siachin and Sir Creek issues. Often peace rhetoric for international audience is replaced with a belligerent stance keeping in mind domestic audience and momentary political gains. How should the peace process be conducted to achieve stability in the region?

Answer: Pakistan and India both need a peace process that is comprehensive and which addresses the issues and concerns that both countries have with one another. The composite dialogue process that was evolved in 1997 and has continued off and on since then, still offers the best framework for a comprehensive peace process. It involves eight issues that are of priority for both countries. But in the last year or two, India has refused to revive this comprehensive broad based peace process. It wants to cherry pick and select issues, which suits its interests. That is not realistic or sustainable. Even if India is able to get Pakistan to respond to one or two issues of its priority, the dialogue process will not be sustainable. After a while the process will run out of momentum when outstanding issues are not addressed. Common sense dictates that durable peace can be built only when the disputes that divide the two countries are addressed on a fair and just basis. One side cannot dictate the agenda as well as the pace of the talks. There have to be steps from both countries to address each others' concerns and at the same time to resolve the disputes between them.

We have seen in our past history, for example during the 1980s, when Pakistan was preoccupied by the situation created by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, all disputes were frozen while the normalization continued. But that didn't stop the Kashmiri uprising from taking place. So when you have a festering dispute like that, even if you put disputes into deep freeze, they will re-emerge in one form or another. Consider another example: tensions in the past year on the Line of Control (LOC). These tensions or violations that occur are inherent in the unresolved dispute in Kashmir. As the Kashmiris say, this line has been drawn in the heart of Kashmir. We need realism on Delhi's part and a recognition that might does not make right.

Q. How should Pakistan evolve a strategy to address the problems of terrorism and religious extremism in Pakistan?

Answer: The fundamental premise for any approach to counter the forces of violent extremism has to be the Constitution of Pakistan. It is within this framework that we must seek to contain these forces and make sure that they do not challenge the state's writ. Fundamentally also, unless governance is substantially improved, there will always be forces that will seek to fill the vacuum in ungoverned places or spaces. Where people feel they have grievances these are often used as alibis by violent extremists to impose their view or agenda.

To confront a multidimensional threat requires that policy responses are also multifaceted. The appropriate approach should be holistic and comprehensive. This needs a 'whole-of-government’ approach. All elements of national power have to be deployed political, military, economic and law enforcement has to be combined with efforts to defeat the extremists' ideology by an effective counter-narrative. We also need to anchor our anti-terrorism and counter-extremism policy within a comprehensive national security strategy. The country doesn't have one at present. We have defence, foreign and economic policies and a patchwork of internal law and order responses, but this doesn't add up to a national security strategy. That has to integrate these components of policy in disciplined pursuit of clearly articulated goals and priorities. It has to be more than a sum of these parts and provide an overarching, strategic focus to them.

As for the country's anti-militancy campaign, this has made gains but the overall effort has taken the form, more of fire fighting than a coherent strategy. The political and administrative effort too has been weak in the post-military operation phase. These weaknesses have to be corrected to establish a sustainable environment that prevents the return of militants to areas cleared of them. This is a very challenging area, which requires great deal of thought, and of course action. I think Pakistan has gained lot of experience in this battle and this experience has to be put into effect through a comprehensive national security strategy, which must be based on public consensus and strengthened state capacity to deal with it. Building stronger state capacity refers as much to laws and law enforcement, including judicial enforcement, as the ability to provide effective governance and essential services to citizens.


Maria Toorpakai Wazir

Published in Hilal English Feb 2014

No challenge is insurmountable if you are determined

Interview: Asif Jehangir Raja

Q. Hailing from Waziristan belt of tribal areas, how did you emerge as a squash player of international repute?

Answer: My childhood had been very exciting. I grew up as a tomboy and was called as Changez Khan by my friends and family (Genghis Khan, one of history's great warriors). I was extremely aggressive and short tempered during my childhood days. My family members mostly found me in the middle of bruising fights outside home, something that had started worrying them. Finally my father decided to introduce me to sports, as to him, the best place to display physical strength is the sports ground.

I was introduced with weightlifting and I started spending time in gym training. I was introduced to other people in the club with a boyish identity of Changez Khan. I found it interesting and after practicing for just two months; I was able to shine at national level in weightlifting. At the age of 12, I was declared as the 2nd Best Junior Weightlifter in Under 16 category (55 Kg category).

As I was excelling in weightlifting, I also developed interest in squash. I knew even as a child that Pakistan had once ruled the world of squash for decades. I would watch kids playing squash during my break time in the squash courts located adjacent to the weightlifting club. Interestingly, because of weightlifting, I became more popular among boys as a strong and fighter person. This, however, did not go well with my family, and they no longer wanted me to continue in weightlifting, though they wanted me to remain involved in the sports activities. It was then that I revealed my interest in squash to my father and requested for his permission to properly learn it. My family happily accepted it and the journey began that is still continued. In order to become member of the well-known squash academy “The Hashim Khan Squash Complex” in Peshawar (being run by Pakistan Air Force (PAF)), I had to present my birth certificate. It was then that my true identity was revealed and people started to know me with true name, Maria Toorpakai Wazir.

I was highly appreciated for taking interest in the sports being a girl, and was supported by the Director of the Academy, Wing Commander Pervaiz Syed Mir. He also gifted me a squash racket (my first squash racket) that bore the signatures of former World Number-1 ranking squash player, Jonathon Power. I could never imagine at that moment that I would one day be coached by him.

I joined squash academy as a quiet player who would choose to practice in a cemented court without much of interactions with others. For at least a month time at the Hashim Khan Squash Academy, no one knew that I was a girl. It was a big surprise for the people in the academy when one day, the Director, while paying visit to the squash courts, took my name and inquired about my performance. The staff couldn't guess as to whom was he referring to, and as he spotted me practicing in one of the courts, he pointed towards me and told them that I was the girl that he was earlier mentioning about. The people at the academy were shocked and didn't believe at first, that a girl in Peshawar, the heart of Kyhber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), was so enthusiastic about sports and had chosen the challenging game of squash. The news spread out all over and, for sometime I was taunted by the males for playing squash, as to them, it was a game for men only.

But nothing deterred me and I was not ready to give up my right to play. The trainers at the academy assessed my technique and told me that I could rise to highest level of the game, if I worked hard. It was then that I decided to even train harder and was determined to rise at international level to make Pakistan and Pashtuns feel proud of me, and not ashamed. I am very lucky and fortunate to have the support of my father, brothers, sister and my mother.

Q. Tell us about your achievements in squash so far?

Answer: I recently won four international tournaments including 'Nash Cup Squash Tournament' where I beat top-seeded Milou Van Der Heijden of the Netherlands at London Squash and Fitness Club. I was also runner up in 'Mercedes of Scottsdale Tournament 2013' held in USA in November 2013. I have won every junior and senior national squash title in Pakistan and have also played finals, semifinals and quarterfinal of many junior and senior international squash tournaments.

I won Bronze Medal in 'World Junior Squash Championship' in 2009 in India, won Silver Medal in 'South Asian Games', played semifinals of 'Asian Junior Squash Championship' and quarterfinal of 'Asian Senior Championship'. I was also nominated for the Best Player Award by the 'World Squash Federation' for the year 2007 and 2009. I have the honour to be the first Pakistani female player who qualified for the prestigious 'British Open Squash Championship'.

Q. Was it not challenging for your father, Mr Shamsul Qayyum Wazir, a tribal elder, to groom you as a squash player amid strict local traditions? How do you describe the role of your brave father in making you what you are today?

Answer: It was always very hard for my father who was a tribal elder and belonged to a prominent and religious family of Waziristan. My great grandfather Mani Khan Wazir was given the title of Bravest Khan (Khan Bhadur) during British India and my paternal great grandfather Bani Khan Wazir was advisor to King Aman Ullah in Afghanistan.

My Father understood the importance of education and extracurricular activities including sports for the people of Waziristan and especially the women, who do not enjoy many liberties due to the local culture of FATA. He wanted to bring awareness to our people, so he started with his own family first. He allowed my mother to improve her education after marriage who later established Girls High Schools in different areas of FATA after graduation and also worked as Assistant Director Education in KPK.

My sister Ayesha Gulalai Wazir who is among the initial highly qualified females from Waziristan, is also the Member National Assembly (MNA), and was elected at a very young age. In order to give exposure to his daughters to the fields of education and sports, my father went through many difficulties. He was criticized, threatened and was even attacked by people for violating the traditions. But he never agreed to change his vision about imparting education to the children, especially females.

We were home-schooled for some time. He did what he could to provide us with the best educational environment at home and to raise us with dignity. His decision to allow me carry out sports activities was also objected by the locals but he never gave up. The manner in which he raised us has also made us strong enough to stand not only for ourselves but for the society and the people. He told me to follow my passion and choose my career. And I decided to become a squash player.

Q. How did you manage to confront all challenges in becoming a world class player?

Answer: I used to practice very hard to improve upon my game. During my early days of the game, to avoid any criticism by the people toot2who were against my decision to play squash, I used to visit the court during nights for practice. My brother used to stand as a guard outside the court so that my practice session went smooth. It was extremely challenging to become a world class player in a society where girls are not happily accepted to compete with males.

Although women are slowly coming up in mainstream fields in Pakistan, however, it will take some more time for our society to get mature in this aspect. But I was raised with a confidence that I am equally strong and talented as men are and I have every right to lead a free life. I also continued my studies along with the game though it was difficult. I had to take leave from school and college during my tournaments but I continued my studies.

I was determined to groom myself as a world class squash player and did whatever I could to bring myself at this level. It was hard work coupled with physical fitness, improvement in techniques and stamina that ultimately paid me. My family is a huge support. They have always been very helpful and have protected me at every step of life.

Q. Pakistani players once ruled the world of squash for many years. What, in your opinion, are the reasons for decline of squash in Pakistan? Please comment about the potential of this game in Pakistan at present?

Answer: Pakistan is full of natural talent. Our people can do very well in squash as they are doing in cricket; however they need proper facilities to groom themselves. Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) always encourages people to come forward and is making sincere efforts. But we need to provide more facilities to the people to carry themselves further in the game. There are less number of squash courts as compared to population. More so, people who have access to the courts aren't coached properly.

We should not confuse studies with the sports, as both are vital for the personality build up. The culture of playing sports must be promoted in Pakistan and government should provide adequate facilities to the people. The law and order situation in Pakistan is also a hindrance in promotion of sports. There is hardly any international sports activity in Pakistan, nowadays, which is one of the reasons for deteriorating culture of sports.

Q. Mr Jonathon Power, who has himself been number 1 ranking player of squash, is now coaching you in Canada. How do you describe your coaching assignment by him?

Answer: Jonathon Power is an amazing coach. I feel very lucky for being his number one student and focus of attention, and very fortunate for being coached by the best. My game has improved a lot since I moved to Canada. I have been surrounded by the best trainers, doctors, physiotherapists, players from all over the world to train with. National Squash Academy (NSA) Toronto, Canada has amazing squash facilities, and implements a very practical on court and off court training schedule.

Q. What is your message for females in Pakistan?

Answer: The contribution of females in the progress of any country and society is always vital. The day society recognizes the role of women in the progress and development, the country shall rise. Women will then be seen excelling in each and every field. They are much stronger, smarter and intelligent than they are thought of. For a healthy, peaceful, tolerant and strong Pakistan, women's participation in all segments of society will prove to be a great contributing factor.

Q. How do you describe yourself in few lines and what are your plans for the future?

Answer: A dove from Pakistan and Pashtuns carrying & spreading a message of humanity, peace and hope around the world through squash. I have self belief and I am brave. I want to stay injury free and continue to play the game with the best of my abilities. I am also planning to participate in the upcoming Commonwealth Games, Asian Championship, and the Asian Games this year.


Interview with Sardar Masood Khan, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir

Written By: Tahir Mehmood


Kashmiris in IOK are suffering grievously;
the world must come forward and help us rescue them; it is our collective responsibility;
not just of Pakistan
and the people
of Kashmir.

Sardar Masood Khan

President Azad Jammu and Kashmir

Q: Where exactly do we stand at this point in our struggle for achieving right to self-determination for the people of Kashmir?
Ans: The struggle for the right to self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir goes on unabated, but any process for its realization, bilateral or multilateral, is stalled because of India's obdurate opposition. Kashmiris are right now facing an existential challenge; how to put an end to killings and mass blindings unleashed by Indian security forces since July 8, 2016. An estimated unarmed 12.5 million Kashmiris are pitted against 700,000 Indian occupation troops which are armed to the teeth. Out of which, some 400,000 troops terrorize, kill, maim and torture the 7 million residents of the Valley of Kashmir. Mass graves of thousands have been discovered; thousands have been victims of enforced disappearances; 'half widows', mothers and families wait forever for those who have "disappeared". The UN and international community have, practically, washed their hands off the Kashmir dispute. Pakistan extends moral, diplomatic and political support to the Kashmiris, but for their physical self-defence they are on their own. This is one of the biggest calamities of our times.

Q: No matter what means are used by the oppressors, history tells us that freedom movements for individual and collective rights have always won. Under the historical framework, are the recent brutalities by India a part of self-defeating mechanism?
Ans: Yes, freedom movements have always succeeded but at a huge cost. Kashmiris are paying that cost with their blood and honour. Imperialists coerce and brutalize subjugated nations to assimilate and exploit them. India is doing precisely that. Using colonial tactics, it is making the price of freedom so prohibitive that, they hope, Kashmiris would be terrorized into submission; dissent would be silenced; and the flame of liberty would be extinguished forever. And yes, despite India's killings and depredations, the flame of freedom burns to its full in Kashmir. For the past seven decades, in order to make IOK part of India's body politic, Delhi has used brute military force to crush the will of the Kashmiris, tried to win them over through blandishments for economic development, nurtured and propped up local political parties sympathetic to India, and demonized Kashmiris as terrorists being supported by Pakistan. As if killing Kashmiris was not enough for Indians, they have been targeting and killing scores of civilians and soldiers on our side of the Line of Control (LOC), too.

Nothing has worked for India. All its plots and machinations have failed, but that has not meant any reduction in the pain and suffering of the Kashmiris. In fact, with each coming year, Indian occupation forces are using more lethal methods and weaponry to escalate state terrorism in Kashmir. India's terror machine in IOK will not dissolve on its own. We need urgent intercession to put an end to Indian acts of genocide and crimes against humanity in Kashmir. Left to its diabolical devices, India's barbarity will become more vicious and will continue in perpetuity. Intercession is needed.

Q: Usually Kashmir Dispute is seen through the prism of so-called Instrument of Accession with India by Maharaja Hari Singh and a revolt by Kashmiris; whereas the struggle for fundamental rights of Kashmiris is much older and deeper. The original sin is attributed to the British who sold it off to the Sikh Maharaja that later Hindu leadership conspired and annexed at partition in 1947?

Ans: Kashmiris were treated as chattel by the British; they are still being treated as colonial subjects by India. The dark night of the people of IOK under foreign occupation and alien domination has become darker. Historically, both – Britain and India – are guilty of inflicting injustice on a peaceful and proud nation.

Q: Historians like Alastair Lamb have questioned the legitimacy of the Instrument of Accession as before it became effectual, the Indian forces had landed on Srinagar Airport on October 27, 1947 Does that make them invaders outrightly?


• Despite India's killings and depredations, the flame of freedom burns to its full in Kashmir.
• With each coming year, Indian occupation forces are using more lethal methods and weaponry to escalate state terrorism in Kashmir.
• Left to its diabolical devices, India's barbarity will become more vicious and will continue in perpetuity. Intercession is needed.
• One cannot trust India when it comes to Kashmir.
• Historically, both – Britain and India – are guilty of inflicting injustice on a peaceful and proud nation.
• India is guilty of illegal occupation of Srinagar and later of the Valley of Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh on October 27, 1947.
• The blame that Pakistan did not withdraw the troops first as per UNSC resolutions and thus did not initiate the Plebiscite process is factually incorrect; historically a misnomer.
• India made a sinister plan to attack Azad Kashmir and occupy it after withdrawal of Pakistani troops in 1950s.v
• Indian Deep State is following the policy of ‘continuous encroachment’ towards Kashmir.
• Simla Agreement does not reduce the Kashmir dispute to a bilateral issue.
• Despite all machinations, India has not succeeded in integrating Kashmir into India.
• September 11 incident has been exploited by India. The Kashmiris have the right to defend themselves.
• Western powers see profit and strategic benefits in their relationship with India.
• No matter what move or counter-move Indian occupation forces make, Kashmiris have vowed to continue their struggle. They will prevail.

Ans: Alastair Lamb's meticulous research is seminal on this question. He has established authoritatively, beyond a shadow of doubt, that the so-called Instrument of Accession is a fake document and therefore, by corollary, India is guilty of illegal occupation of Srinagar and later of the Valley of Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh on October 27, 1947. This document has never been communicated to Pakistan or to the UN; nor its original or a satisfactory copy has been produced. The Maharajah could not have signed that document on October 26, 1947, as claimed by India, because on that day he was travelling between Jammu and Srinagar. All evidence points to the fact the Maharajah did not sign the documents and the Indian occupation forces landed in Srinagar on October 27 to beef up some Indian troops which had already secured the airport in mid-October. The irony is that India is not amenable to such fine legal points which it expunged from its lingo early on and has always owned its forcible entry into IOK to establish its illicit writ. It makes no bones about it and flaunts the thin veneer of its (il) legitimacy in Kashmir.

Q: How do you see Gandhi and Nehru’s role in genesis and perpetuation of this problem?
Ans: Gandhi very strongly advocated for a united India and his pre-Partition stance towards Kashmir falls in the same category. After Partition, in all fairness, Gandhi once said in one of his prayer meetings, "If the people of Kashmir are in favour of Pakistan, no power on earth can stop them from doing so... they should be left free to decide for themselves..." But Nehru is a different story. He made promises to hold the plebiscite to ascertain the will of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and he did agree to implement UN Security Council resolutions; and then he reneged on his promises. This kind of duplicity and dissimulation permeates India’s foreign policy. You can't trust them when it comes to Kashmir. The world knows that Kashmir does not belong to India; and Indians know that too because Kashmiri men, women and children hold a plebiscite every day to say ‘GO INDIA, GO BACK, LEAVE OUR KASHMIR’.

Q: Few scholars, particularly Indian and Western scholars, blame Pakistan for not withdrawing troops after the UN Resolutions in 1950s and thus failing to create the right conditions for the Plebiscite?
Ans: This is not true. One needs to read Security Council Resolution 98 of December 30, 1952 that provided that 3000 to 6000 Pakistani troops would remain on the Pakistani side (Azad Kashmir) and 12,000 to 18,000 on the Indian side (IOK) to pave the way for the holding of a UN-supervised plebiscite. Disagreement arose when India demanded that Pakistan should withdraw its forces first, whereas Pakistan insisted that this be done simultaneously. Pakistan saw through India's sinister plan in 1950s: to make Pakistan vacate Azad Kashmir so that it could attack and occupy it later. Again this is a fine point and disingenuous stance by Delhi about the implementation of the UN resolutions, because India had already started underhand, specious and illegal political and constitutional processes to integrate IOK into the Indian Union. In July 1952, Sheikh Abdullah signed Delhi Agreement with India to establish Centre-State relationship and to attain an "autonomous status" for the State. The real objective was to annex the occupied territory. In November that year, the so-called Constituent Assembly (the one rejected by the UN Security Council as being a substitute for the plebiscite) passed a resolution to formally abolish the Maharajah's rule and replace it with Sadar-i-Riyasat. All of this was happening in 1952. Where was India's intent or action to withdraw its troops?


interview_sardar_masood_khan1.jpgQ: Since 1947 Indian policies towards Kashmir follow a pattern of ‘continuous encroachment’. What next moves do you expect from Indian Deep State which has followed this policy of encroachment irrespective of any political government in New Delhi?
Ans: After the assumption of office, the BJP Government has taken a series of steps to accelerate the pace for the permanent annexation of the IOK into the Indian Union. Its main objective is to scuttle the special status given grudgingly to IOK, change the demography of the occupied territory and further squeeze the space for Kashmiris. It has encouraged and orchestrated steps to abolish Article 35 (A) of the Indian Constitution, an offshoot of Article 370, that gives special rights and privileges to the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir in regard to employment, acquisition of immovable property, settlement in the state and scholarships. The BJP, backed by the Hindu extremist organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), is also taking incremental steps and preparing the ground for the repeal of Article 370 itself; and this was in fact its stand during the 2014 elections. Right from the beginning this article was all but a thin veneer to "legalize" India's occupation of the territory and with extensions of Indian legislation to IOK it has been all but eviscerated. In addition, the 2002 SARFAESI
(Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest) Act is being imposed on IOK for seizure, auction and sale of the mortgaged immovable properties to non-Kashmiris. In yet another "encroachment" on the rights of the Kashmiris, nativity certificates are being issued to the so-called West Pakistan refugees to increase the population of Non-Kashmiris in the IOK. Illegal settlements for ex-Army personnel and Pandits, on the pattern of Israeli settlements, are being built. Above all, through electoral maneuvers, the BJP is elbowing out even pro-India Kashmiri, but essentially Muslim, political parties – the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party – to dominate the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly so as to "legitimize" all these steps.

Q: Indians often tell the world that after Simla Agreement in 1972, Kashmir is a bilateral issue between the two countries. What are your views on this Indian claim?
Ans: The Kashmir issue never was and will never be a bilateral issue; it is a trilateral issue involving Pakistan, India and the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Despite repeated misinterpretations by India, the Simla Agreement does not reduce the Kashmir dispute to a bilateral issue. Nowhere does the treaty say or imply that. Article 1(i) of the agreement invokes the principles and purposes of the UN Charter; Article 1(ii) states that the two countries would settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon between them; Article 4(2) highlights the recognized positions of both sides; and Article 6 talks about the final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir. I think the Ceasefire Line in Jammu and Kashmir should not have been called the Line of Control; that was a mistake. That said, the Indian claim to the Indian Occupied Kashmir is not recognized in the agreement. Most importantly, the agreement does not overrule the rights of the Kashmiris or override the application of the UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir and international law upholding the right to self-determination. A reference to the UN, though not stated explicitly in the agreement, remains intact.


interview_sardar_masood_khan2.jpgThe real harm has not been done by the Simla Agreement but by the elusive bilateral dialogue process. While Pakistan sincerely tried to pursue this path, India has used it to (a) reduce the core issue of Kashmir to one of the eight or ten agenda items; and (b) acquire a veto over the commencement and timetable of the dialogue. India would scuttle the process on the slightest pretext and push Pakistan to a position of begging for dialogue. Talks on Kashmir, if they ever start, India tells Pakistan there will be no dialogue on Jammu and Kashmir because it is an integral part of India; and the only thing the two sides can talk about is terrorism. India used these tactics to cause inordinate delays in the possible resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute so that the status quo in Kashmir gets legitimacy. Despite all such machinations, India has not succeeded in integrating Kashmir into India.

Q: How much has September 11 affected Kashmir Freedom Movement in its claims for legitimacy?
Ans: The stark irony is that Indian Army, one of the largest and most equipped armies of the world, has waged a full throttle, ferocious war against the people of IOK, the most unarmed people in the world. Indian Army is killing non-combatant civilians, who are demanding their freedom from Indian subjugation and their right to self-determination. Indians are calling this demand terrorism. Pakistan and people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir are extending their moral, diplomatic and political support to the people of Kashmir. The Kashmiris have the right to defend themselves. If the most powerful nations on earth have the right to defend themselves according to the UN Charter, why is it being denied to the people of Kashmir? To allow India to persevere in its carnage? One thing is clear: the struggle for freedom and self-determination, such as that of Kashmiris, is not terrorism.

Q: Where do you see the UN, USA and the international community supporting the cause of Kashmiris and taking it to the logical point of exercising the Right to Self-determination?
Ans: The bitter truth is that right now Kashmir is not on the radar screen of the global powers or even the United Nations. This does not mean we will be discouraged or disheartened. We will continue to knock on their doors until we get their attention. Western powers see profit and strategic benefits in their relationship with India. I call it rank mercantilism and misplaced strategic alignments. But let's not get into that. We are confident that our message will resonate in world capitals and like other peoples of the world, the Kashmiris too would get their rights. President Trump, the newly elected President of the U.S., has hinted that he would like to play a role in the resolution of the Kashmir dispute; and the new UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has given indications that he would use his good offices. So let's not lose hope. The world order is in flux and we hope that the emerging global order will address the suppression of people under foreign occupation and alien domination, such as in Kashmir.

Q: India is implementing demographic changes by New Hindu Settlements (NHS) in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) particularly in Muslim majority areas. Is any role being played by the UN as seen in case of Jewish Settlements by Israel?
Ans: The Palestinians got that break in the UN Security Council after a long time. And that victory appears to be evanescent because the new U.S. Administration has resolved to reverse this decision. Israel has become even more defiant. This teaches us one lesson; we should be resilient. We should continue to send communications to the UN Security Council, the Secretary General, and the Human Rights Council about these illegal settlements that are altering the character of the state that is yet to decide its political future. We, the people of Azad Kashmir, IOK and, above all, Pakistan should be the primary custodians of the parameters for the UN resolutions on Kashmir.

Q: How do you view the ongoing indigenous struggle in IOK and Indian counter-moves?
Ans: No matter what moves or counter-moves Indian occupation forces make, Kashmiris have vowed to continue their struggle. They will prevail.

Q: What basic steps would you recommend towards the resolution of this historic issue which has the potential to become a nuclear flash point?

Ans: Here are the eleven points:

(1) Hold India accountable for its atrocities at all international forums.

(2) Revive the international dimension of the Kashmir dispute and pursue your case with full vigour.

(3) Do not abandon the path of engagement with India despite its obduracy; and maintain your moral high ground on a peaceful solution of the Kashmir dispute through diplomacy even if this track seems unproductive in the short-term.

(4) Continue to develop Pakistan's nuclear and conventional capability.

(5) Continue to invest in strategic restraint and responsibility.

(6) Consolidate the strengths of your diaspora community, especially in North America and Europe.

(7) Use the tools of communication, including the traditional and modern media, at the strategic level to get your message across.

(8) Use all possible avenues to express solidarity with the people of IOK.

(9) Make Pakistan strong economically and bring it on par with other emerging economies.

(10) Make Azad Jammu and Kashmir a model state in terms of economic development and governance.

(11) Reach out to Indian civil society to persuade them to speak up for the rights of Kashmiris and not be a party to India's crimes against humanity in IOK through silence which amounts to acquiescence.


Q: What is your message to the people of AJK, IOK, Pakistan, India, and the world?

Ans: Kashmiris in IOK are suffering grievously; the world must come forward and help us rescue them; it is our collective responsibility; not just of Pakistan and the people of Kashmir.


انور مسعود

انٹرویو : عذرا انتصار

’’آپ کو اتنی عزت اور شہرت ملے گی جس کے بارے میں آپ اس وقت سوچ بھی نہیں سکتے۔‘‘ زائچہ نویس کی نظریں زائچے کی لکیروں میں الجھی ہوئی تھیں اور میرا ذہن گجرات کی گلیوں میں بھٹکتا ہوا اس دروازے پر جا پہنچاجہاں میری ماں میرے انتظار میں بیٹھی تھی۔مجھے دیکھتے ہی میرا چہرہ ہاتھوں میں تھاما‘پیشانی پر بوسہ دیا اور بولیں

کسی کے آنے کی ہم لے کے آس بیٹھے ہیں
نگاہیں در پہ لگیں ہیں‘ اداس بیٹھے ہیں
میری والدہ کو شاعری اور ادب سے بہت لگاؤ تھا ۔

’’آپ کی شادی انتہائی کامیاب رہے گی۔‘‘ شادی کے بعد آپ کے حالات(بہتری کی جانب)اس طرح بدلیں گے جیسے سکرین پر سین بدلتے ہیں۔‘‘ زائچہ نویس کی آواز کے ساتھ ہی صدیقہ کی روشن اور مسکراتی ہوئی نگاہیں میری نظروں کے سامنے آگئیں۔صدیقہ ایم اے فارسی میں میری کلاس فیلو اورفارسی سو سائٹی کی وائس پریزیڈنٹ تھیں جبکہ میں یونین کا جنرل سیکریٹری تھا، کالج اور پرشیئن سوسائٹی کے انتظامی امور کے بارے میں مشوروں میں اکثر اس سے ملاقات ہوتی تھی اور مجھے صدیقہ کی شخصیت میں کشش اور جاذبیت محسوس ہوتی تھی۔ایک بار صدیقہ نے مجھ سے کہا تھا کہ’’میں آج تک کسی کی آوازاور اندازِ بیان سے متاثر نہیں ہوئی لیکن آپ کی آواز اور اندازِ بیان نے مجھے اس حد تک مسحور کیا ہے کہ میں آپ کے سامنے اس کا اظہار کرنے پر مجبور ہوں‘‘میں نے اپنے جذبات کا محتاط اظہار صدیقہ کے سامنے کچھ یو ں کیا

میں تو قائم ہوں تیرے غم کی بدولت ورنہ
یوں بکھر جاؤں کہ خود ہاتھ نہ آؤں اپنے
اس کے جواب میں صدیقہ نے اقبال کا یہ شعر پڑھ دیا تھا۔
در طلب کوش ومدہ دامنِ امید ز دست
دولتے ہست کہ یابی سرِ راہے گاہے

(ترجمہ:تو طلب اور جستجو جاری رکھ اور امید کا دامن ہاتھ سے مت چھوڑ۔ممکن ہے کہ یہ دولت تجھے سرِراہ مل جائے۔)

’’آپ کے پانچ بچے ہوں گے،تین لڑکے اور دو لڑکیاں۔آپ کا منجھلا بیٹاایک منفرد اور قابلِ تحسین کام کرے گا‘‘


میں ڈیرہ غازی خان میں تھاتو ایک امام مسجد نے میرا زائچہ لکھا ‘انہوں نے کہا کہ جب آپ کی شادی ہو گی آپ کے حالات اس طرح بدلیں گے جس طرح سکرین پر تصویریں بدلتی ہیں۔دوسری بات یہ کہ آپ کے پانچ بچے ہوں گے۔ دو بیٹیاں اور تین بیٹے ہوں گے اور آپ کا منجھلا بیٹا ایک عجیب کام کرے گا۔ تیسری بات یہ کہ اللہ آپ کو اتنی شہرت دے گا کہ آپ سوچ بھی نہیں سکیں گے اور یہی ہوا میرے حالات اسی طرح بدلے میری بیگم میرے لئے خوش بخت ثابت ہوئی۔ میرے بیٹے عما ر مسعود کے نام اور کام کو ساری دنیا جانتی ہے اور خد ا نے مجھے اتنی شہرت اور عزت دے دی ہے کہ اگر خدا مجھے ایک اور زندگی بھی دے تو بھی میں اس زندگی کا شکر ادا نہیں کر سکتا۔ مجھے ساری دنیا سے مشاعروں میں بلایا جاتا ہے۔اتنی محبت‘ اتنی پذیرائی کہ میں پریشان ہو جاتا ہوں کہ میں ان کو کیا سناؤں۔ لوگوں کو میری شاعری زبانی یاد ہے۔یہ اللہ کا کرم ہے۔

کہاں کی سیر نہ کی توسنِ تخیل پر
ہمیں تو یہ بھی سلیماں کے تخت ایسا تھا

انور مسعود شاعری کی دنیا کا ایک بڑا نام اور مزاحیہ شاعری ان کی پہچان ہے جولوگوں کے دل و دماغ مسحور کر دیتی ہے۔شاعری تو بہت سے لوگ کرتے ہیں لیکن ساحر کوئی کوئی ہوتا ہے۔برِ صغیر پاک و ہند بلکہ پوری دنیا میں جانے پہچانے مشہور مزاحیہ شاعر انور مسعود کی ہلال کے لئے کی جانے والی خصوصی گفتگو پیشِ خدمت ہے۔


س۔اپنی ابتدائی زندگی کے بارے میں کچھ بتائیے؟
ج۔میں گجرات (پاکستان) میں پیدا ہوا۔ چار بہنوں اور دو بھائیوں میں سب سے بڑا ہوں۔میرے والد صنعت کار تھے۔میں نے ابتدائی تعلیم گجرات سے حاصل کی ۔پھر والد صاحب کاروبار کے سلسلے میں لاہور چلے گئے۔چھٹی جماعت تک لاہور میں پڑھا۔ان کا لاہور میں بہت اچھا کاروبار تھا ۔کاروبار میں اتار چڑھاؤ آتے رہتے ہیں مگر جب ان کا نقصان ہو ا تووہ برداشت نہ کر سکے اوراس کا نتیجہ یہ نکلا کہ ان کا دنیا سے دل اچاٹ ہو گیا‘ وہ دنیاوی زندگی سے کٹ گئے اور صوفی بن گئے اور سارا بوجھ مجھ پر آگیاتھا۔پھر والد صاحب گجرات واپس آئے تو باقی تعلیم گجرات میں ہی حاصل کی میٹرک فرسٹ ڈویژن سے کیا۔ میرے والدین مجھے ڈاکٹر بنانا چاہتے تھے مگر جو اللہ کو منظور ۔۔۔

زمیندار کالج سے ایف اے کے امتحان میں کالج میں پہلی پوزیشن حاصل کی اور سکالر شپ حاصل کیا۔ پھر بی اے میں فرسٹ کلاس اور سلور میڈل کے ساتھ سکالر شپ حاصل کیا۔مالی حالت ٹھیک نہ ہونے کی وجہ سے تعلیم جاری نہ رکھ سکا اور گجرات سے چھ میل کے فاصلے پر ایک قصبے کنجاہ کے پرائیویٹ سکول میں ملازمت کر لی۔اس سکول میں کسی زمانے میں ڈپٹی نذیر احمد نے بھی پڑھایا تھا۔وہاں کام کرنا میرے لئے فخر کی بات تھی۔ دو سال بعد اسلامیہ کالج میں ایم اے انگلش کرنے گیامگر بد قسمتی سے داخلے کی تاریخ گزر چکی تھی۔حمید علی خان وہاں پرنسپل تھے۔ انہوں نے کہا اگر وقت پر آجاتے تو مجھے خوشی ہوتی مگر اب کوئی صورت نہیں تو میں نے اورئینٹل کالج میں فارسی میں داخلہ لے لیا۔فارسی زبان سے مجھے شروع سے لگاؤ تھا۔ پھر میں نے ایم اے فارسی میں گولڈ میڈل حاصل کیا۔اچھی پوزیشن کی وجہ سے ملازمت جلدی مل گئی۔

س۔آپ کی زندگی میں زیادہ اثرات آپ کی والدہ کے ہیں یا والد صاحب کے؟
ج۔میرے والد کی طرف سے مجھے تصوف کی طرف رجحان ملا ۔میرے بعض اشعار میں صوفی ازم جھلکتا ہے جیسے
؂ اس نے پیکر میں نہ ڈھلنے کی قسم کھائی ہے
میرے والد کی دعائیں ہمیشہ میرے ساتھ رہیں ۔وہ مجھے کہتے تھے کہ خدا تمہیں بہت شہرت اور مقام دے۔

س۔آپ نے شاعری کی ابتداء کب کی؟
ج۔میری نانی شاعرہ تھیں۔ لوگ انہیں استانی صاحبہ کہتے تھے۔ان کا نام کرم بی بی اورعاجز ان کا تخلص تھا۔ان کا دیوان بھی چھپ چکا ہے۔والدہ بہت قابل اور ذہین خاتون تھیں۔لفظ شناس تھیں۔میرے تایا عبداللطیف افضل شاعر تھے۔گھر کا ماحول ادبی تھا۔اب بزرگوں کا کچھ اثر توبچوں پر بھی پڑتا ہے۔

س۔شاعری میں استادکسے مانتے ہیں؟
ج۔استادی شاگردی کا زمانہ اب نہیں رہا۔البتہ جن لوگوں نے میری حوصلہ افزائی کی ان میں احمد ندیم قاسمی ، پیر فضل اور بہت سے شعراء ہیں۔

س۔پہلا شعر کس عمر میں کہا تھا؟
ج۔میری پہلی باقاعدہ نظم ’’میری پہلی نظم ‘‘کے نام سے اپنی کتاب ایک دریچہ ایک چراغ کے آخر میں لکھی ہے۔میں سمجھتا ہوں اس کا ایک شعر جو میرا پہلا شعر تھا‘ میری ساری شاعری پر آج بھی محیط ہے۔
یہ جو ہنسنا ہنسانا ہوتا ہے
یہ رونے کو چھپانا ہوتا ہے

س۔شعر کیا ہے؟
ج۔شعر جگنو ہے،پھول ہے،ستارہ ہے۔فن ہوتا ہی حسن پیدا کرنے کے لئے ہے ۔آپ بات کو کتنے خوبصورت انداز سے بیان کرتے ہیں۔
میرا لکھاں دا وکدا تکیہ
جے ہنجواں دا مل پیندا
اگر آنسوؤں کی قیمت پڑتی تو میرا تکیہ لاکھوں میں بکتا۔یہ بات کرنے کا ایک ڈھنگ ہے۔

س۔ہم نے سنا ہے کہ شاعری کانزول ہوتا ہے‘ کیا یہ سچ ہے؟
ج۔ شروع شروع میں ایسا ہوتا ہے۔ بعد میں محنت کرنی پڑتی ہے۔ قدرت آپ کی رہنمائی ضرور کرتی ہے۔آپ کو احساس دلا دیتی ہے کہ آپ کے اندر یہ ٹیلنٹ ہے۔علامہ اقبال سے کسی نے کہا کہ مجھے آپ کا یہ شعر بہت پسند ہے تو فرمایا میں نے اس شعر کو 78 مرتبہ کاٹ کر لکھا۔اچھا شعر کہنا مشکل کام ہے۔شعر کے بہت عجیب تجربے ہوتے ہیں خاص طور پر جوانی میں ایسے تجربے بہت ہوتے ہیں۔جیسے میں نے نیند میں شعر کہے، جب اٹھا تو یاد تھے۔

؂ بہت چوما ہے اپنا ہاتھ میں نے
تیرے پاؤں کے نیچے آگیا تھا
یہ شعر میں نے سوتے میں کہاتھا۔

س۔کیا محبت کے بغیر شاعری نا ممکن ہے؟
ج۔با لکل درست ۔محبت کی مختلف شکلیں ہیں۔فیض صاحب نے اپنی محبت کو وطن سے منسلک کر دیا۔ماں سے محبت ،اولاد سے محبت ا ور سب سے بڑی محبت جو اقبال نے کہا کہ حضور ﷺ سے محبت ہے۔آپ ﷺ سے محبت کا مطلب زندگی کے بہترین انداز سے محبت ہے۔زندگی میں تجربے ہوتے ہیں۔مگر فانی وجود سے محبت بھی فانی ہی ہوتی ہے۔اصل محبت باقی سے ہے جو ہمیشہ باقی رہتی ہے۔میں نے محبت بھی کی اور شاعری بھی، میری بیوی بھی ایک تجربہ ہے مگر کامیا ب تجربہ ۔

(ہنستے ہوئے۔)

س۔آپ نے شاعر ی کے لئے پنجابی زبان کا ہی انتخاب کیوں کیا؟
ج۔میرے ایک استاد چوہدری افضل حسین نے مجھے پنجابی میں لکھنے کو کہا۔ پہلے میں صرف اردو میں شعرکہتا تھا۔اس زمانے میں مشاعروں میں طرح مصرع دیا جاتا تھا اور ہم لوگ شعر لکھ کر لے جایا کرتے تھے۔ایک مرتبہ میں نے اپنے پڑوسی کی بھینس پر ایک نظم لکھی۔جس میں اس کی جوانی‘ خوبصورتی،اس کی اداؤں اور اس کے نینوں کو اس طرح سے بیان کیا کہ اچھا خاصا ہنگامہ ہو گیا۔وہ لوگ مار پیٹ کرنے کے لیے لاٹھیاں لے کر آگئے۔خیر بڑی مشکل سے صلح صفائی ہوئی اور صلح نامہ کے طور پر میں نے وہ نظم پھاڑ دی‘ اس وقت میں ایف اے میں تھا ۔مگر اگلے دن دوبارہ لکھ کر کالج میں سنائی تو میرے استاد کہنے لگے کہ بھئی تمہارا بھینس کامطالعہ تو کمال ہے۔اسی طرح گجرات کے ایک بڑے شاعر پیر فضل نے کہا کہ تم پنچابی شاعری کرو ۔

س۔آپ مزاحیہ شاعری اتنی سنجیدگی سے کیسے کرتے ہیں؟
ج۔ہنسنے کے علاوہ میرے پاس چارہ ہی نہیں تھا۔میرے لئے درد چھپانا مشکل ہو گیا تھا‘ میں نے ہنس کے چھپایا۔اس مسکراہٹ کے پیچھے آنسوؤں کی جھالریں ہیں۔بندہ اس لئے بھی تو ہنستا ہے نا!کہ کسی کو کچھ پتہ نہ چلے۔میرا مزاح مکئی کے دانوں کی طرح ہے‘ مکئی جب جلنے لگتی ہے تو ہنسنے لگتی ہے مجھے یوں لگتا ہے جیسے بادل کا ٹکڑا میرے اندر داخل ہو گیا ہو‘جب اس میں بجلی چمکتی ہے تو وہ ہنستا ہوا لگتا ہے اور جب وہ برسنے لگتا ہے تو وہ روتا ہوا محسوس ہوتا ہے۔یوں میری شاعری رونے لگتی ہے۔

ْس۔آپ کو بھی رونا آتا ہے؟
ج : اصل میں میں نے عوامی سطح پر زندگی بسر کی ہے۔میں نے لوگوں کے غربت کے دکھ سکھ بہت قریب سے دیکھے ہیں۔۔مجھے پتہ ہے کہ بھوک کیا ہے۔کیونکہ میں نے وہ دن گزارے ہیں لیکن اللہ نے صبر عطا کیا اور آج کسی چیز کی کمی نہیں۔میں نے اپنی فارسی کی ایک نظم یونان میں ایرانی سفیر کو سنائی تو وہ رونے لگا۔
میرے کئی مصرعے آپ سنیں گے تو ہنس پڑیں گے لیکن وہی میں دوسری دفعہ پڑھوں تو آپ حیران ہو جائیں گے۔

جب میری پہنچ میں کوئی سودا ہی نہیں
پھر کس لئے لگتا ہے یہ میلا میرے آگے

س۔زندگی کا سب سے بڑا دکھ جس نے شاعری کی شکل اختیار کر لی؟
ج۔میں نے بڑی غربت کے دن گزارے ۔وہ میرا بڑا دکھ تھا۔
؂ تو نے پوچھا ہے مجھے درد کہاں ہوتا ہے
اک جگہ ہو تو بتاؤں کہ یہاں ہوتا ہے

میں بیمار ماں کے لئے دوائی کا انتظام نہ کر سکتا تھا۔والد صاحب نے بچوں کی ذمہ داری نہ لی اورساری ذمہ داریاں میرے اوپر آگئیں۔
(انور صاحب سراپا درد بن گئے ۔دکھ الفاظ کی صورت ان کے لہجے سے رسنے لگے۔)
مجھے اس ملک کا بھی بڑا دکھ ہے کہ جس مقصد کے لئے ہم نے ملک حاصل کیا تھا وہ مقصد ابھی حاصل نہیں ہو سکا ۔جو بھی آیا اس کواس مقصد سے ہٹاتا رہا۔

ہم کو درپیش ہیں اتنے مسائل انور
ان کو گننے بھی جو بیٹھیں تو زمانے لگ جائیں
کوئی تدبیر اسی ایک پریشانی کی
جو بکھرے ہوئے شاپر ہیں ٹھکا نے لگ جائیں

میں جس ملک میں رہتا ہوں اس کا دکھ میرا دکھ ہے ۔میرا سب سے بڑا دکھ یہ ہے کہ ہم نے جو فلاحی مملکت بنانی تھی،وہ نہ بن سکی۔جاگیر داری اس کا پیچھانہیں چھوڑتی۔

س۔آپ کی نظم ’’بنیان‘‘ سن کر سامعین ہنسی سے لوٹ پوٹ ہو جاتے ہیں‘وہیں امبڑی سننے والوں کے آنسو نہیں تھمتے؟
ج۔یہ ایک حقیقی واقعہ تھا۔وہ میرے ہی کلاس کے لڑکے تھے،جو دیرسے آئے تھے اور میرے پوچھنے پرجو وجہ بتائی تو میں سن ہو کر رہ گیا۔ یہ واقعہ تو ہو گیا لیکن اس نے مجھ پر بہت اثر کیا۔میں اسے سوچتا رہتا اور لکھتا رہتا۔میں دس سال تک اس نظم کو لکھتا رہا مگر مطمئن نہ ہو ا ۔ان دنوں میں پنڈی گھیب میں تھاتو اس رات کی تنہائی میں اس نظم نے کہا کہ اٹھو اور مجھے لکھو اور اس طرح ''امبڑی ''تخلیق ہوئی۔

بنیان میں نے پانچ منٹ میں لکھی ۔جب میں نے پہلی مرتبہ لکھی تو احمدندیم قاسمی کہنے لگے مجھے کوئی چیز سناؤ میں نے ’’بنیان ‘‘سنائی تو تھوڑی دیر بعد کہنے لگے ’’انور میں ایک اور فرمائش کروں‘‘میں نے کہا’’حکم کریں‘‘ تو کہنے لگے ایک مرتبہ پھر سناؤ۔

س۔آپ کا انداز بیان جدا گانہ ہے،اس کی کیا وجہ ہے؟
ج۔یہ میرا فطری انداز ہے ۔ شعوری نہیں ۔پڑھنا بھی ایک فن ہے۔آواز اور لہجے میں اس وقت تک اثراور برکت پیدا نہیں ہوتی جب تک لہو کی دھار اس میں شامل نہیں ہوتی۔
’’معجزۂ فن کی ہے خونِ جگر سے نمود‘‘
میں بہت کم مطمئن ہوتا ہوں۔بڑے بڑے لوگ شعرپڑھتے ہیں‘ تلفظ ٹھیک‘ زیروبم ٹھیک‘ توقف ٹھیک‘ پھر بھی تاثر پیدا نہیں ہوتا ۔جو میری نقل کرتے ہیں وہ بناوٹ کا شکار ہو جاتے ہیں۔

س۔آپ نے دنیا بھر میں مشاعروں میں شرکت کی ۔کہاں کے سامعین آپ کو زیادہ پسند آئے؟
ج۔میں کسی بھی ملک میں جاتا ہوں اور داد سمیٹتا ہوں تو مجھے لگتا ہے کہ اس سے زیادہ پذیرائی ہو ہی نہیں سکتی تھی اور جب اگلے ملک میں جاتا ہوں تو پہلے ملک کی پذیرائی ہیچ لگتی ہے۔میں کہتا ہوں کہ میں نے کسی شاعر کو اتنی داد ملتے ہوئے دیکھی نہیں ہے جتنی مجھے ملتی ہے۔حفیظ جالندھری نے ایک مرتبہ میرے بارے میں کہا کہ
’’انور مسعود کی شاعری میری حسرت اظہار ہے۔‘‘خاص طور پر یونیورسٹی اورکالجوں کے نو جوان بہت پسند کرتے ہیں۔میرا نظریۂ شعر یہ ہے کہ میں ایسا شعر کہوں جسے دودھ دہی بیچنے والا دکان دار بھی پسند کرے۔ریڑھی والا بھی اور اسی مصرعے کو وائس چانسلر سنے تو وہ بھی پسند کرے۔جو لوگ اپنے آپ کو مشکل بنا دیتے ہیں وہ اپنے قارئین کا حلقہ محدود کر لیتے ہیں۔میر کا شعر میرا ماٹو ہے

؂ شعر میرے ہیں گو خواص پسند
پر مجھے گفتگو عوام سے ہے

ٹالسٹائی نے کہا ہے کہ کسی ادبی فن پارے کی اہمیت اس بات سے متعین ہوتی ہے کہ اس نے زیادہ سے زیادہ کتنے لوگوں کو متاثر کیا۔میں نے لوگوں کے ہونٹوں سے باتیں لے کر ان کے کانوں کو واپس کرنے کی کوشش کی ہے اور خدا نے اس میں بہت برکت ڈالی ہے۔

س۔اب تک کتنی کتابیں لکھ چکے ہیں؟
ج۔میری پنچابی نظموں کی کتاب ''میلہ اکھیاں داں ''اس کے 68 ایڈیشن آچکے ہیں۔ اردو میں سنجیدہ شاعری بھی کی۔ نعتیہ کلام بھی ’’باریاب کلام‘‘ کے نام سے چھپ چکا ہے۔اس میں اردو ‘پنچابی اور فارسی کی نعتیں ہیں۔چودہ پندرہ کتابیں چھپ چکی ہیں۔لیکن جو بڑا کام اللہ نے مجھ سے کروایاوہ میاں محمد بخش رحمتہ اللہ علیہ کی سیف الملوک کا ترجمہ ہے جو پنچاب گورنمنٹ نے مجھ سے کروایا۔میں نے بچپن میں میاں صاحب پرایک نظم لکھی تھی اور کہا تھا کہ’’ اس درگاہوں میاں صاحب میں نیءں خالی جانا۔‘‘
تو یوں لگتا ہے کہ میری دعا قبول ہو گئی۔ احمد ندیم قاسمی جب بھی مجھے ملتے تو کہتے’’ مجھے وہ نظم سناؤ‘‘ وہ کہتے تھے کہ تم وہاں سے خالی نہیں آئے۔سیف الملوک کا ترجمہ کرنے میں مجھے تین سال لگے۔یہ کوئی آسان کام نہیں تھا۔ان کے دس ہزار اشعار کا ترجمہ میں نے اردو میں کیا۔نثر میں میری کتاب ’’فارسی ادب کے چند گو شے’’بڑی اہم کتاب ہے۔اس کے بارے میں مشتاق احمد یوسفی نے کہا تھا ‘‘ کہ گر فاصلہ کم نہ ہوتا اور میری یہ عمر نہ ہوتی تو میں انور مسعود سے جا کر فارسی سیکھتا۔‘‘

س۔علامہ اقبال کی شاعری نے قوم میں ایک امنگ پیدا کی۔آپ کا کیا خیال ہے کہ آج کے اس الیکٹرانک دور میں اب بھی شاعری اسی طرح سے لوگوں پر اثر کر سکتی ہے؟
ج۔اقبال کے پائے کا کوئی شاعر نہیں۔
’’بڑی مشکل سے ہوتا ہے چمن میں دیدہ ور پیدا ‘‘
یہ اقبال کا ہی دور ہے۔ایران میں ایک استاد سے میں نے اقبال کے بارے میں رائے لی تو بولے کہ ’’زود آمد‘‘ کہ جلدی آگیا یعنی آنے والا سارا زمانہ اسی کا ہے۔عبد المغنی انڈیا کے بہت بڑے نقاد ہیں۔انہوں نے کہا کہ اقبال دنیا کا سب سے بڑا شاعر ہے۔وہ اس کتاب کا مفسر ہے جو دنیا کی سب سے بڑی کتاب ہے۔وہ قرآن کو بیان کرتا ہے۔اقبال نے محنت بھی بہت کی ہے۔جب تک آپ لفظ کی حقیقت کو نہیں جانتے آپ اس کا صحیح استعمال نہیں کر سکتے۔میر تقی میر اور غالب کے درمیان ایک سو سال کا فاصلہ تھا۔غالب اور اقبال کے درمیان بہت فاصلہ ہے۔بہت سے ستارے بجھتے ہیں تو سورج نکلتا ہے۔

س۔پنجابی میں بابا بلھے شاہ‘ وارث شاہ ،سلطان باہو،میاں محمد بخش اور دیگر شعراء کی روایت چلی آرہی ہے ۔آج کے دور کے پنچابی شعراء میں سے ایسے چند نام جو یاد رکھے جائیں گے یا آپ جن کے کام سے متاثر ہیں؟
ج۔ایسے لوگ موجود ہیں ’’اسیر عابد‘‘ نے پنچابی میں ترجمے کا کام کیا ہے۔انہوں نے غالب کے دیوان کا پنچابی میں ترجمہ کیا اورکمال کیاہے۔ایسا لگتا ہے کسی نے لاہورمیں بیٹھ کرپنجابی شاعری کی ہواور غالب نے اس کا اردو ترجمہ کیا ہو۔اسی طرح تجمل کلیم پنچابی کے بہت اچھے شاعر ہیں۔لیکن بابا بلھے شاہ ، وارت شاہ ،سلطان باہو، بابا فرید کے پائے کا شاعر کوئی نہیں۔

س۔آپ نے محبت کی شادی کی؟مزاحیہ شاعری کرتے ہیں تو مزاجاََکیسے ہیں؟کبھی غصہ بھی آتا ہے؟
ج۔غصہ آنافطری بات ہے۔ہر انسان کی طرح مجھے اور بیگم کو بھی آتا ہے۔لیکن ہم نے کبھی اس کو دیر تک نہیں رکھا۔ ہماری شادی کی پچاسویں سالگرہ ہوئی ہے۔

س۔آپ کے سارے بچے قابل ہیں۔بچوں کی تربیت میں کس چیز کا خیال رکھا؟
ج۔بچوں کی تربیت میری بیگم نے کی۔مجھے مشاعروں اور فنکشنز سے فرصت ہی نہیں ملی ۔میرے سسر کے ذہن میں ایک ہی خیال تھا کہ ان کی اولاد پڑھی لکھی ہو،اور یہی جذبہ اور شوق میری بیگم کے دل میں تھا۔میرے خاندان میں تو پڑھائی کا کوئی رواج نہیں تھا۔لڑکی تو دور کی بات ہے‘ لڑکوں کو پڑھانابھی برا سمجھا جاتا تھا۔کیونکہ وہ صنعت کار تھے۔میں امتحانوں میں بچوں کی مدد کروا دیتا تھا۔بیگم نے پورے خلوص سے انہیں پڑھایا ۔بڑا بیٹا امجد اسلام امجد کا داماد ہے۔عمار کو آپ جانتے ہیں۔چھوٹا میرے ساتھ رہتا ہے۔دو بچیاں ہیں دونوں پروفیسر ہیں۔

س۔یاد گار واقعہ؟
ج۔میں طواف کر رہا تھا۔ایک لڑکا مجھے غور سے دیکھتا رہا ۔پھر میرے پاس آکر بولا ’’آپ بھی یہیں ہیں؟‘‘ تو میں نے کہا: ہاں جی! خدا نے مجھے بھی بلایا ہے۔ تو کہنے لگا مجھے پتہ نہیں تھاآپ یہاں ہیں‘ میں نے ابھی آپ کے نام کا عمرہ کیا ہے۔ یہ میری زندگی کا بہترین ایوار ڈ تھا۔لوگ گلہ کرتے ہیں کہ دنیا قدر نہیں کرتی ۔ دنیا بہت قدر کرتی ہے۔میری اتنی قدر ہوئی کہ میں اس کا شکر ادا نہیں کر سکتا۔اس طرح مجھے فیصل آباد میں ایک مشاعرے میں بلایا گیا‘ وہاں لڑکوں نے مجھے ہار پہنایا جس پر لکھا ہو ا تھا’’شادی مبارک‘‘تو بیگم صاحبہ کہنے لگیں یہ ہار پہن کر اکیلے ہی آگئے ہیں۔

س۔زندگی کا وہ لمحہ جب خود پر فخر محسوس ہو اہو؟
ج۔اس کا مجھے انتظار ہے۔کہ خدا میری کوتاہیوں کو بخش کر مجھے معاف کر دے ۔اس کو قرآن نے بھی فوزالعظیم کہا ہے۔اس سے بڑی کوئی کامیابی نہیں۔دنیاوی کامیابیاں خاصی ہیں۔

س۔کتنے ممالک کی سیر کی؟
ج۔میں تو سوچ بھی نہیں سکتا تھا کہ میں کبھی گجرات سے باہر بھی جا سکوں گا۔مگر میں نے شاعری کے تخت پر بیٹھ کر دنیا بھر کی سیر کی۔

س۔اب تک کتنے ایوارڈحاصل کر چکے ہیں؟
ج۔بے شمار۔مجھے تعلیمی میدان میں بھی ایوارڈ ملے ۔بی اے میں بیسٹ سٹوڈنٹ کا ایوارڈ ملا ۔ایم اے میں گولڈ میڈل حاصل کیا اور1999میں مجھے پرائڈ آف پر فارمنس کا ایوارڈ ملا۔رفیق تارڑ صاحب مجھے تمغہ پہناتے ہوئے کہنے لگے کہ مجھے آپ کی نظمیں بہت اچھی لگتیں ہیں۔صدر ممنون حسین صاحب نے مشاعرہ کروایا اور میرے ساتھ تصویر بنوانے کی فرمائش کی ۔یہ میرے لئے بہت اعزاز کی بات ہے۔حال ہی میں امریکہ کے شہر ہیوسٹن میں جشن انور مسعود منایا گیا۔کیلیفورنیا میں مجھے''لِونگ لیجینڈ ''کا ایوارڈ دیا گیا۔ یہ بھی اللہ کا کرم ہے ‘وہ جسے چاہتا ہے عزت دیتا ہے۔

س۔آپ کو سیاست سے لگاؤ ہے؟
ج۔عملی سیاست سے نہیں ہے لیکن ملک کے سیاسی حالات سے بے خبر نہیں رہتا اور یہ حالات مجھ پراثر انداز ضرور ہوتے ہیں۔
ان پہ مٹی ضرور ڈالیں گے
جو مسائل بھی سر اٹھائیں گے
سوچتا ہوں کہ چوہدری صاحب
اتنی مٹی کہاں سے لائیں گے

سب لوگ مفاد پرست ہیں الیکشن ہوں تو دھاندلی کے الزامات ۔پھر میں سمجھتا ہوں کہ جمہوریت اس ملک میں کیونکر آسکتی ہے جہاں لوگ پڑھے لکھے نہ ہوں ؟دو چیزیں بہت ضروری ہیں۔ایک تو یہ کہ ووٹ کا حق پڑھے لکھے باشعور لوگوں کو ملنا چاہیے دوسرا یہ کہ الیکشن میں حصہ لینے کے لئے بھی کوئی معیار ہونا چاہئے‘امیدوار میں اتنی قابلیت اور صلاحیت ہونا ضروری ہے کہ وہ مسائل کا ادراک کر سکے۔ہمارے یہاں خاندا نی سیاست فروغ پا چکی ہے۔وہی لوگ بھیس بدل بدل کر آرہے ہیں۔

س۔ملکی حالات کی بہتری کے لئے کیا کرنا چاہئے؟
ج۔جو قائد اعظم نے کیا تھا۔انہوں نے پاکستانی قوم کی تشکیل کی‘ اس وقت فرقہ بندی اور گروہ بندی نہیں تھی۔انہوں نے اتحاد اور تنظیم پر زور دیا۔ شہد کی مکھیاں بھی اکٹھی ہو کر شہد بنا لیتی ہیں۔اس وقت ہمیں اتحاد کی ضرورت ہے۔ہمیں ایک دیانت دار بندہ چاہئے۔قوت والا اور پاور والا ہماری تقدیر بدل سکتا ہے۔

س۔آپ ملکی حالات سے مطمئن ہیں؟
ج۔اگر مطمئن ہو جاؤں تو میری شاعری ہی ختم ہو جائے گی۔حالات کی بہتری کے لئے ہمیشہ کوشش کرنی چاہئے۔

س۔قیام پاکستان سے لے کر آج تک کون سا وقت ملک کے لئے اچھا تھا؟
ج۔قائد اعظم صاحب اورعبدالرب نشتر کا دور۔ہمارے ہاں اگر کوئی ترقی ہوئی ہے تو ایوب خان کے دور میں ہوئی ہے۔

س۔پسندیدہ سیاست دان؟
ج۔قائد اعظم ۔میں چھ سات سال کا تھا تو میں نے قائد اعظم کو لاہور میں دیکھا۔والد صاحب نے مجھے اٹھایا ہوا تھا۔دبلے پتلے قائد اعظم کی آنکھوں کی بے پنا ہ چمک مجھے ابھی تک یاد ہے۔اور آنکھوں میں چمک مقصد سے آتی ہے۔سید ابو اعلیٰ مودودی کی شخصیت سے بھی میں بے حد متاثر ہوں‘وہ ایک بڑے عالمِ دین تھے۔

س۔فوجی بھائیوں کو کوئی پیغام دینا چاہیں گے؟
ج۔ہمارا یہ ادارہ قابلِ احترام ہے۔جنگ کے دوران میں نے ترانے بھی لکھے ہیں۔
خشکی پہ سمندر میں ہواؤں میں لڑے ہیں
ہم لوگ ہیں شہباز فضاؤں میں لڑے ہیں
یہ ہمارے محافظ ہیں۔ان کی سب سے بڑی ڈیوٹی ہے وطن کی حفاظت کرنا۔مشکل کی ہرگھڑی میں وہ ہمارا ساتھ دیتے ہیں ،ہماری حفاظت کرتے ہیں اسی طرح جب بھی موقع آتا ہے عوام بھی ان کے ساتھ ہوتی ہے۔فوج کو سیاست میں نہیں گھسیٹنا چاہئے۔ سیاست سے احتراز فوج کے ادارے کی عزت ووقار میں اضافے کا باعث بنا ہے۔

انٹرویو نگار ایک قومی اخبار کے ساتھ وابستہ ہیں۔ ریڈیو پاکستان کے لئے بھی لکھتی ہیں۔

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شعر جگنو ہے،پھول ہے، ستارہ ہے۔فن ہوتا ہی حسن پیدا کرنے کے لئے ہے ۔


فانی وجود سے محبت بھی فانی ہی ہوتی ہے۔اصل محبت باقی سے ہے جو ہمیشہ باقی رہتی ہے۔


میرا مزاح مکئی کے دانوں کی طرح ہے‘ مکئی جب جلنے لگتی ہے تو ہنسنے لگتی ہے مجھے یوں لگتا ہے جیسے بادل کا ٹکڑا میرے اندر داخل ہو گیا ہو‘جب اس میں بجلی چمکتی ہے تو وہ ہنستا ہوا لگتا ہے اور جب وہ برسنے لگتا ہے تو وہ روتا ہوا محسوس ہوتا ہے۔ یوں میری شاعری رونے لگتی ہے۔


آواز اورلہجے میں اس وقت تک اثر اور برکت پیدا نہیں ہوتی جب تک لہو کی دھار اس میں شامل نہیں ہوتی۔


میرا سب سے بڑا دکھ یہ ہے کہ ہم نے جو فلاحی مملکت بنانی تھی،وہ نہ بن سکی۔


میرا نظریۂ شعر یہ ہے کہ میں ایسا شعر کہوں جسے دودھ دہی بیچنے والا دکان دار بھی پسند کرے۔ریڑھی والا بھی اور اسی مصرعے کو وائس چانسلر سنے تو وہ بھی پسند کرے۔


میر تقی میر اور غالب کے درمیان ایک سو سال کا فاصلہ تھا۔غالب اور اقبال کے درمیان بہت فاصلہ ہے۔بہت سے ستارے بجھتے ہیں تو سورج نکلتا ہے۔


ٹالسٹائی نے کہا ہے کہ کسی ادبی فن پارے کی اہمیت اس بات سے متعین ہوتی ہے کہ اس نے زیادہ سے زیادہ کتنے لوگوں کو متاثر کیا۔میں نے لوگوں کے ہونٹوں سے باتیں لے کر ان کے کانوں کو واپس کرنے کی کوشش کی ہے اور خدا نے اس میں بہت برکت ڈالی ہے۔



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