Friday, October 17, 2008

When hope was alive - in Pakistan

When hope was alive By Dr Manzur Ejaz; October 17th, 2008

Recounts the flavour of the 1960s and '70s and portrays some memorable characters of the time

I have rarely come across an intellectual and philosopher of the late Dr Aziz-ul-Haq’s calibre in Pakistan. His intellectual defiance resembled that of the 17th century mystic poet Shah Hussain, who defied the Mughals and danced in the city of Lahore, rousing the rabble. Hussain’s methodology was like Socrates’, to lay bare the contradictions in society through questioning. Dr Aziz-ul-Haq was an intellectual cheetah. He would enter Lahore’s Pak Tea House, that hang-out of the literati in the 1960s and 1970s, target his victim, question him patiently, and then with swift logic and a high-pitched passionate tone, deliver a series of rapier-sharp ripostes. This would leave the other side speechless. He always made sure that his Marxist-Existentialist arguments carried the day and convinced his young audience. However, most of his contemporaries and writers from an older generation hated him. This included those who agreed with his politics and philosophy. They objected to his overbearing style, which had to silence the opposing side. It is ironic that I have met the intellectuals I adore through people who had no interest in them.

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