February 13th marks the date of birth of one of Pakistan’s finest literary minds and a revolutionary poet. Thirty-four years after his death, Faiz is still as relevant on the spectrum of Pakistani politics and intelligentsia as he was in his lifetime.
Born in Sialkot on February 13, 1911, Faiz Ahmad Faiz married Alys Faiz – a British national who had a tremendous influence on his life and poetry. They had two daughters — Saleema and Muneeza.
He started a branch of Anjuman Tarraqi Pasand Mussanafin-e-Hind in Punjab in 1936 and was also a member and secretary of this branch.
Faiz also worked as editor of Mahanama Adab-e-Lateef and became a lecturer in English at MAO College, Amritsar in 1935 and then at Hailey College of Commerce, Lahore.
He briefly joined the British Indian Army and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1944. He resigned from the army in 1947 and returned to Lahore to become the first editor-in-chief of the Pakistan Times. Faiz spent much of the 1950s and 1960s promoting communism in Pakistan.
He was charged with complicity in a failed coup attempt known as the Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case and was sentenced to four years of jail in 1951. The jail term gave him a first-hand experience of the harsh realities of life and provided him with much-needed solitude to think and write poetry.
In 1959 he was appointed the secretary of the Pakistan Arts Council and worked in that capacity till 1962. Returning from London in 1964, he settled down in Karachi and was appointed the principal at Abdullah Haroon College.
He passed away on November 20, 1984 and left behind a legacy of great poetry, courage and commitment to literature.