Annual of Urdu Studies, v. 6, 1987 p. 131.


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[This letter to the Prime Minister of Pakistan was sent on 27 June 1987 by the well-known Pakistani poet Fahmida Riaz who with her family has been living in exile for over six years in India We reproduce it from Mainstream (New Delhi). 11 July 1987 p 30 ]

Respected Sir,

With the installation of your government in power, your party proclaimed that it was the beginning of transition from military dictatorship to establishing democracy in Pakistan. The true spirit of democracy, sir, is guaranteed only by the full and unhindered participation of all the people in the country. It is in this context that I wish to draw your kind attention to an important factor and seek your immediate intervention so that the objective of democratisation may be realised by concrete deeds.

It is common knowledge that the military dictatorship had let loose such an unprecedented reign of terror and repression during its first five years in power that many political dissidents and self-respecting members of the intelligentsia had to flee their own country and seek shelter abroad. It was under these circumstances that I along with my husband and two small kids sought shelter in India in March, 1981 Since then we have been eagerly waiting for a meaningful political change in Pakistan so that we may return to our country and live our life honourably, taking part in the process of social change according to our faith. But unfortunately, and to the dismay of all political refugees, your Government has not offered assurance against persecution to Pakistani citizens. This has led to great uncertainty and apprehensions amongst the political refugees; and there are reasons to believe that the higher-ups of the Army have not too discreetly sent feelers that they mean to bargain even in respect of restoring this basic constitutional right of the people, who only tried to escape from persecution under the Martial Law regime.

Our case is a classic example of the unabashed victimisation and vindictive-ness. I am a poet, committed to my people. The journal Awaz that I edited and published had no affiliation with any political party. My husband, Zafar All Ujjan, is a devoted political cadre of Pakistan People's Party; since 1978 he has been working for the ideals of his party. However, Awaz always provided a forum for all shades of opinions representing the democratic struggle, and we are genuinely proud of having done our duty in face of extreme hardships.

The Home Department of Sindh Government, at the instance of the rulers in Islamabad, made every effort to suppress and stifle our journal. Notices imposing fines to the tune of thousands of rupees were issued frequently, and Ferozabad

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