Saturday Jun 27, 2020
South Asia’s noted poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar, in his poem “Likh” (Write), has highlighted the declining standards of media freedom and the responsibility of journalists towards holding the powerful accountable before the masses.
The poem has received attention after Akhtar recited it at a ceremony in what can be taken as a powerful call to arms.
The verses of the poem highlight that the profession of journalism is a noble one and key to maintaining social order in a society; and that gags on media and curbs on freedom of expression should not stop journalists from doing their jobs.
While his words ring true throughout the world, they especially hit home for journalists in Pakistan, a country that ranks high among the worst countries for a free press.
Media in Pakistan has been beset on all sides by the inequities of a repressive regime, and international rights organisations, intellectuals and journalists have repeatedly called upon the Pakistani government to ensure freedom of expression as enshrined in the Constitution.
United Nations (UN) officials — including the UN Commission on Human Rights' Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right of Freedom of Expression and Opinion, and the Vice-Chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention — in a recent letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan had noted the restrictions on freedom of expression imposed on the media in the country.
The letter had pointed out that the arbitrary detention of journalists -- in reference to Jang Geo Media Group Editor in Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman's continuing incarceration -- has been the latest in a line of transgressions limiting the freedom of expression and media coverage of political life in the country.
Javed Akhtar's 'Likh':
جو بات کہتے ڈرتے ہیں سب تو وہ بات لکھ
اتنی اندھیری تھی نہ کبھی پہلے رات لکھ
What everyone is scared of speaking, of that you must write
The night was never so benighted before, write!
جن سے قصیدے لکھے تھے، وہ پھینک دے قلم
پھر خونِ دل سے سچے قلم کی صفات لکھ
The pens you wrote your odes with, throw them out the window
The true words with the pen dipped in your heart's blood, write!
جو روزناموں میں کہیں پاتی نہیں جگہ
جو روز ہر جگہ کی ہے، وہ واردات لکھ
All those untold stories that never find a place in the dailies,
The crimes that represent the everyday, everywhere, write!
جو واقعات ہوچکے ان کا تو ذکر ہے
لیکن جو ہونے چاہیں وہ واقعات لکھ
All the past events have been reported and are now history
But which are missing, must also find mention, write!
جتنے بھی تنگ دائرے ہیں سارے توڑ دے
اب آ کھلی فضاؤں میں اب کائنات لکھ
Break free from all those tight circles that confine you
Come out in the open now, of the universe now, write!
اس باغ میں جو دیکھنی ہے تجھ کو بہار
تو ڈال ڈال دے صدا، تو پات پات لکھ
And if you want this rosarium to embrace the spring once again
Shout out from every branch, on every leaf in sight, write!