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Political Poetry
While we continue to live in times of political turmoil, we have a great tradition of politically inspired songs - that have awakened our social consciousness of Pakistanis through the years. While the world is embracing slogans like Barack Obama's inspiring 'yes we can!', we have a large number of songs that have taken on an anthem like quality and become instant classics because of their relevance and inspirational value!
Instep presents the best of the politically inspired songs - and the great minds behind them that wrote such insightful poetry.
Iqbal Bano – 'Hum dekheinge'

Written by legendary poet/writer Faiz Ahmed Faiz, and performed to perfection by Iqbal Bano, 'Hum dekheinge' quickly became the revolutionary anthem of choice for all those protesting against the dictators of the day. 'Hum dekheinge' was brought back into the limelight last year by the lawyers' movement, who played the song at rallies protesting for the restoration of judges. The lyrics are incredibly powerful 'Hum mehkoomon ke paaoon taley / Yeh dharti dhar dhar dharkey gi / Aur ahl-e-hakam ke sar upar / Jab bijli kar kar karkey gi / Hum dekhein gey' (Under the feet of the governed / This earth will quake / And over the head of the ruler / When lightening will thunder / We shall see) are just a sample of the emotions this song evokes. While it may seem to have religious undertones, 'Hum dekheinge' is a song that speaks to the listener about a day of reckoning. The song is for the eternal optimist alive within each Pakistani, waiting for the day when the power of the people shall be supreme. While it is sad that the song is still as relevant today as it was when Faiz originally wrote it, the song is a classic and should be a must-listen for everyone. The best version to hear is Iqbal Bano singing it live - with thunderous applause and strains of 'Inqilaab Zindabad' in the background!

Junoon – 'Ehtesab'

Junoon, in their heyday were always one to ruffle a feather (or two). And with 'Ehtesab', they truly took their tongue-in-cheek attitude to the limit. 'Ehtesab', a song about accountability and corruption, had a spoof video on Asif Ali Zardari and the corruption claims agianst him, and the video was instantly banned.

'Ehtesab' spoke to a generation of young people to call for accountability of those in power, but the message was lost when the video never made the light of day, and Junoon being banned from state television. The video was probably only seen by a few (this is before the time of YouTube and multiple TV channels) - when state television aired a BBC documentary called 'The Princess and her Playboy' about Benazir and Zardari, which featured the video. The lyrics to the song, however, are still as poignant as they were back then: 'Kitni ankhen dekhen gee, adhi sadi purana khwab / Kitni bar pukaren gey, zindabad aur murdabad' (How many eyes will see a half-century old dream / How many times will we call for rise and fall) How many times, indeed!

Laal – 'Mainay uss se yeh kaha'

While this song has been around for a while, it has sparked a great deal of interest lately as an alternate video has been doing the rounds on Geo TV featuring this song. Laal, the

brainchild of Taimur Rehman and Shahram Azhar, have done an excellent rendition of noted poet/writer Habib Jalib's poem 'Musheer' (advisor). While Habib Jalib wrote 'Maine uss se yeh kaha' about forty years ago during Ayub Khan's era, as all political songs go - is still relevant today! 'Maine uss se yeh kaha' is a brilliantly done song, which talks about the 'das crore awam' (100 million people) and the state of despair and apathy they are in, as well as sardonically comments on the rulers of the country. The lyrics, 'cheen apna yaar hai / uss pe jaan / par wahan hai jo nizam / uss taraf na jaiyo / uss ko duur se salam' and 'das crore yeh gadhey / jin ka naam hai awam / kya baneinge hukmaran' (China is our friend / We'd give our lives for her / But the system that they have / Steer well clear of that / From far away say 'salaam' / These hundred million asses / That are named the masses / Could surely never become rulers). Laal's reinvention of Habib Jalib's timeless and fiery poetry has come at a time where the country's political conscious is heightened like never before - and we can't wait to see what musical gems they produce next!

Tina Sani – 'Bol ke lab azaad hain tere'
Another gem by Faiz Ahmed Faiz,

'Bol ke lab azaad hain tere' was written at a time when Faiz's poetry gained a purpose beyond just being read. The legendary singer Tina Sani, giving it a whole new dimension, beautifully sang this thought provoking piece of poetry. Though it's very old but holds relevance to our time as well with the political instability and the constant struggle of power between the ruling parties of the country… where the people are nowhere to be found.

It compels masses to step forward and voice their concerns. Until and unless you won't speak up you won't be heard. After giving out the grave situation that has engulfed us all he also evokes hope amongst the ones who have turned indifferent towards the injustices around them. The words of the poem include 'pehla har ek zanjeer ka daman / bol bol yeh thora vaqt bahut hai / jism zubaan ki maut se pehle / bol ke sach zinda hai ab tak / bol jo kuch kehna hai keh de'
(The chains of injustice has spread everywhere / speak as the little time you have is enough / before your body and soul dies / speak that the truth is still alive / say whatever you want to say)
The treatment Tina Sani has given to these revolutionary words is worth praising. After many years, Fariha Parvaiz also attempted this tune but failed to create the magic Tina has already made.

Shehzad Roy – 'Laga Reh'

This year Shehzad Roy released his album Qismat Apney Haat Mein and evolved from a love struck singer to a rebel with a cause. His song 'Laga Reh' invoked more buzz than any other song managed to create this year. It is a satire aiming at the situation of our country - political or social!
As the masses, we are too indifferent to change or revolt and believe it's the will of God. He rightly sings… 'Kuch na kar kuch na kar tu, sab kuch Allah par chhor de, bas Allah hi tera hafiz hai!' (Don't do anything yourself and leave everything to God, He will take care of you)
The lyrics of 'Laga Reh' are so true that it makes you laugh at yourself but you can't deny them. One of the best parts of the song is when Shehzad sings 'Naik kaun hai yeh to bata / naik who hai jise… mauqa nahin mila!'
(Tell me who is pious here / Pious..is the one who didn't get a chance to take advantage of the situation)
Shehzad Roy has made an effort to make people realize that it's high time we actually do something do bring a change - in a tongue-in-cheek manner that hits a nerve yet forces one to think!

– Fatima Zakir & Saba Imtiaz