The life and poetry of Faiz, somehow have become intertwined with the fate and fortune of people of Pakistan pounded by the dictatorship of the generals, obscurantism of the pulpit and exploitation by the potentates. His hopes and dreams for a bright and blissful dawn were the same as cherished by every folk while his destiny like them was to be stung and deprived of them. His poetry thus captured the agony and anguish of a common suffering and helplessness and a yearning for change thwarted by torturous odds and impediments. Any stirring or struggle for deliverance was relentlessly suppressed through a fiendish armoury of administrative and penal codes and a perilously grinding court system. Any deviation from the monopolistic and exploitative interpretation of religion was treated as sedition. Yet he sang of a dire need to alter this system through a persistent and protracted struggle. For this, Faiz endured the fate of many other illustrious enthusiasts and crusaders in the Afro-Asian and Latin American countries. Faiz, however, also had a stellar distinction to render the purpose, pursuit, paradoxes and course of the crusade into an epic of enchanting beauty, thrill, diction and appeal. Though many of his compositions like Come Back Afrikia, Curbs on Kenyan Activists and the Anthem and the Three Voices exuding the Palestinian passion for freedom mirror a far wider concern for the movements of the oppressed of the earth yet most of this epic is rooted to this soil. This epic, certainly, is not sequenced like narratives in great classics like Aeneid, Odyssey, Iliad or Shahnama but its strands are strewn in a marvelous mosaic of his life and verses. This evidently was inevitable as Faiz was not chronicling some past legends or events but depicting his own life and times, rapidly realigning and fending off a relentless four pronged (chow mukhi) onslaught. Yet his oeuvre, despite being strung into different poems and volumes, can be surmised as distinct phases of the same fight. The first is the transformation of a lyricist of love, beauty, longing and loneliness into a poet portraying misery, hunger , sorrows and suffering of the masses. Normally an enlightened and sensitive youth who in his own words was turned into a poet by "an impulse of infatuation in college days" would have continued this romantic course. But his passion for the plight of the multitudes plus the penetrating insight that pierced through the superficial faade of a spectacle (dood-e-sure bazam) to fathom its real causative factors, convinced him that the pains other than those of love were far more excruciating and overpowering (aur bhi dukh hain zamanay main muhabbat kay siwa). The pains felt at morsels being snatched from the hungry by swift swooping falcons, callous trade cartels bartering the labourers' flesh, workers' blood spilt in the streets." made him transcend the traditional litany of love and nature and pour these chilling socio economic realities into a unique sparkling matrix of vibrant lyricism and appeal. He evolved an exquisite cult to impart new meaning and dimension to the routine poetic vocabulary and symbolism of love, loss, despair, legends, religion, rivalry and mysticism. The inequitable distribution of wealth perpetrated by the obtuse priorities of the planners, for example, was compared to an unfair distribution of wine with the major portion being diverted to the coffers of muhtasib i.e the bosses entrusted to regulate, reform and redress the wrongs, the rest passing to the preacher's chest and very little being left for the commoners. The symbolism of drink here evidently morphed into a vital source of sustenance and happiness. Even the ordinary words like khalwat or privacy here may be construed to imply secret unaccounted budget heads or agencies. The collusion of rulers and the religious lobbies i.e. the muhtasib and the pulpit identified by the opening couplet of this poem, gradually became quite well known for its ruinous impact on our society. Fifty years later, the reverberations against this mullah- military alliance were to resound in all parts of the country. Faiz also decried the general suffocation, restrictions and taboos on the freedom of expression, assembly and movement in the society. In a stunning indifference to his own internment in a prison cell his thoughts drifted to the sad state of the city and were cast into the remarkable lines that imprisonment was not merely confined to the boundaries of jail but rather, looking from his cell, the entire city i.e the society seemed to be chained behind a rampart. This candid observation still evokes the horrific images of our barricaded cities, barbed streets and rampant denial of civil rights and liberties. His almost proverbial lyrics chali hai rasam keh koi na ser uthake chalay point to a pervasive erosion of human dignity and decent existence .A far more fervent concern for human dignity is expressed in his minuscule Punjabi collection which relates how the human beings despite being proclaimed a paragon of God's creation, are battered and humiliated by the revenue and police functionaries. Exasperated by this humiliation one would be hardly tempted by this crown of creation but would rather settle for a dignified sustenance (izzat da tukkar ). . The absence of a fair judicial system became evident when Faiz and some of his contemporaries were arbitrarily arrested by the first dictator General Ayub Khan. The inordinate delay to initiate proper trials, the futility of writ petitions, habeas corpus proceeding being inexplicably infructuous seemed to imply that the prosecution, lawyers and judges had somehow were in a strange collusion banay hain ahle hawas muddai bhi munsaf bhi-- kisay wakeel karain kis say munsafi chhahain. The rejection of oral and written appeals was illustrated as jo kaha to sun kay ura dia jo likha to purh kay mita dia To cure this painful misery and oppression, Faiz proposed a surgical procedure performed through the active struggle of the suffering masses. He unequivocally clarified that "it could not be cured without a scalpel and neither me nor some other soul except you could bleed it out". In a majestic composition of a spellbinding mood and lyricism he recounts the futility of mourning over the splintered wreckage of fragile and vulnerable glass palaces of human dignity, desire, ego and freedom. They have to be raised and reinforced again through more dedicated and resilient strategy. It would be a long torturous trail spiked with tremendous hurdles and setbacks. The entire fruit and harvest of hopes and dreams may be lost at critical junctures necessitating an unbreakable courage, determination and persistence to resume afresh with a new resolve and vigour. His struggle, as an editor and writer in various progressive papers and magazine, participation in the trade union activities and interaction with the organizations mesmerized by various shades of socialism, was another formidable feature of his fight. But in Pakistan, such leanings constituted a culpable threat that had to be extirpated at the earliest. So Faiz, for his venture on this path(rah) for his passion and ideal (ishq) was indicted in the famous conspiracy case. The verses narrating a desolate isolation in prison and being pilloried in public (tunha puse zindaun kabhi ruswa sare bazaar point to the same ordeal. Yet he vowed that being charged for this ishq was not an odium (dushnam) but an honour (ikraum). The end of conspiracy case for Faiz, however, was not an end of the dread he raised in the heart of the dictators. For no apparent reason he was arraigned again by the first dictator General Ayub Khan. The ritual of activists being repeatedly rounded up by the dictators is superbly summed up by the lines da-re- zindaun peh bulai gai phir say janoon waalay those fired by this morbid passion were again summoned and huddled to the prison. During a larger part of Zia's ditatorship,Faiz mostly stayed in exile. Yet a brutal imagery of darkness, degradation and despondency of these days was distilled into his poems. His legacy actually became a leading light for the fight against dictatorship erupting repeatedly on this soil. His almost prophetic assertion that "new enthusiasts would emerge to retrieve the standards strewn during our last desperate stand in the slaying fields (qatal gahoon say chun ker hamaray alum aur niklaingay ushaq kay qauflay)" was repeatedly echoed in the movements against Ayub, Zia and Musharraf regimes. A glimmer of Faiz and his flanks, fettered in chains, paraded in streets (aaj phir bazaar main pa beh joolaun chalo) was reincarnated during the lawyers' movement and would certainly surge again till that popularly cherished dawn (woh sehar) is reached The writer is an academic