Islamabad - A ceremony to launch the book “Flame of Faiz” by renowned Russian poet and writer Vladimir Lesovoy was held on Friday at the Foreign Office to commemorate the 104th birth anniversary of Faiz Ahmed Faiz.  Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security & Foreign Affairs and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs graced the occasion.

This was the first event of its kind that the Foreign Office hosted as part of its efforts to enhance and promote the public diplomacy division of the Ministry.

The ceremony was attended by Ambassadors from Russian speaking countries and guests from other Ministries. Vladimir Lesovoy and his co-author and English translator of the book, Vladimir Mikheev specially flew in from Moscow to attend the ceremony.

Vladimir Lesovoy is one of Russia’s eminent writers of prose and verse. As a social essayist and literary critic his essays have been published in the leading Russian journals. He is also the recipient of several national and international literary and cultural awards. The book is a collection of essays and translations of the works of Faiz Ahmed Faiz in Russian but its centerpiece is a poem by Lesovoy dedicated to the Pakistani poet. This poem has been translated in Urdu by Dr Mojahid Mirza and Raja Abdul Qayyum while the English translation of Lesovoy’s poem to Faiz Ahmed Faiz has been done by Vladimir Mikheev. The book also features articles on the biography and creative works of Faiz.

Speaking on the occasion, the author highlighted his admiration for Faiz Ahmed Faiz as a humanist, poet, intellectual and social activist. Referring to Faiz as someone with a “deep soul”, he said that Faiz’s writings touched the hearts of many Russians throughout the years. Although he had never met Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Lesovoy said that he developed a close and passionate bonding with the poet.

Lauding the work of Vladimir Lesovoy, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi also recounted the days when he had met Faiz Ahmed Faiz during his stay in Moscow. He had always admired the commitment and dedication that Faiz in his causes and beliefs despite the hardships and tribulations he faced. He noted that the erstwhile Soviet Union had honored the poet by awarding Faiz the highest civil award of “Lenin Peace Prize” in recognition of his services.

Speaking to the audience in Russian, Fatemi stressed the role that art and literature places in bringing nations and peoples together and he appreciated the efforts and contribution of Vladimir Lesovoy in this regard.

The Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security & Foreign Affairs also had words of praise for the Russian author commendable work. He noted that Faiz Ahmad Faiz was no stranger to the Russian art and literary circles and had a long association with the erstwhile Soviet Union. Many of his poems had been written while he lived in Moscow and have been translated over the years into the Russian and Russo-slavic languages. After his death, the Russian government honoured him by calling him “our poet”. Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s friendship and kinship with the Russian people played a role in building bridges between our two countries. On his 100th birth anniversary, Faiz’s famous poem, “Mujhe se pehli si mohabbat” resonated through the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow at a concert dedicated to him and the same year one of the best biographies written about Faiz was also written by a Russian student of Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s work, Ludmila Vaisleva who accompanied him in his travels throughout the USSR and called him a “magician of words”. This showed the deep appreciation and devotion that the Russian people had with the Pakistani poet. Calling Lesovoy’s book as the greatest tribute to be paid to Faiz’s legacy, the Advisor felt that art, culture and literature are binding forces that bring together people and communities and he believed that the publication of this book was timely as both Russia and Pakistan are improving their relations.

At the end of the ceremony, Vladimir Lesovoy distributed signed copies of his book. The two Russian authors will also visit Lahore to attend the Lahore Literary Festival and meet with Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s daughters Salima and Moneeza.