On the fateful night of September 15, 2023, the Baloch people came together to mourn the irreplaceable loss of one of their most illustrious poets, Qazi Mubarak. This profound grief flowed like a river, transcending boundaries and uniting diverse segments of Baloch society – from parliamentarians to resistance fighters, from commoners to students, from women to Baloch diaspora communities worldwide. Qazi’s passing created a rare moment of unity reminiscent of the widespread mourning that followed the departure of the esteemed Karima Mehrab. At the age of 67, Qazi left an indelible mark etched deeply into the hearts of the Baloch people.
Qazi was not just an ordinary poet; he was a non-conformist, a maverick who refused to bow to conventional norms or adhere to traditional social etiquette. Yet, the Baloch people made a unique exception for him, for he was not merely respected but profoundly and deeply loved. Qazi was a fearless truth-teller, never mincing words even when they raised eyebrows. His exceptional status stemmed not from mere respect but from the love he inspired. He was loved more than revered, a testament to his profound humanity. Through his poetry, he gave voice to the voiceless, those marginalized by society due to their social status. His verses were a powerful testament to his ability to express complex emotions while also addressing critical socio-political issues, weaving together personal ironies and the universal human condition in the language of ordinary people.
Born in the tranquil coastal town of Passini on December 24, 1956, Qazi completed his matriculation at Passini School in 1972 before pursuing higher education in Karachi in 1978. He graduated from Urdu College Karachi and later earned a postgraduate degree in International Relations from Balochistan University.
A substantial portion of Qazi’s poetic legacy served as a poignant commentary on power and authority. Balochistan’s ongoing struggles for cultural, political, and social self-determination and sovereignty over its land and resources gave Qazi Mubarak an artistic canvas to express his deep distrust of power and authority. He consistently aligned himself with the ordinary people – victims of an oppressive state, tribal chiefs, political intrigues, and systemic oppression.
Throughout the 1980s, his poetic expressions reflected the pressing socio-political issues of the time, making him a potent voice against authority. Speaking out against power in Balochistan has always carried severe consequences, and Qazi faced imprisonment for his activism and writings. However, he never wavered in his critique, even during the darkest days of Musharraf’s dictatorship in the early 2000s when writers and poets were abducted or killed for expressing their true feelings. When presented in court, Qazi fearlessly told the judge that if poetry was a crime, then Iqbal, the national poet of Pakistan, should also be considered a criminal.
Qazi was a versatile poet who mastered various techniques and forms. He delved into traditional Balochi poetic forms like Dastoonk, Lacha, Sout, Zaheronk, and Nazeenk, as well as foreign poetic forms like the sonnet, Haiku, and Ghazal. His published works encompassed ten remarkable books:
Shág mán sawzén sáwarhá
Mani ahday gamay kessah
Háni mani mátén watan
Chawlán daryá yal dátag
Morg pa kodóhán raptagant
Jangal chincho zébá ent
Áp sammáká jatag
Gesá wátar kanag lóthán
Shakkalén jawráni barward
In addition to these published works, Qazi made significant contributions to daily local newspapers and quarterly magazines. His fame and adoration among all segments of Baloch society were unparalleled. His poetry’s rhythmic flow and simple vocabulary made it accessible to people from all walks of life, but this accessibility never diluted the depth of his work. Qazi possessed a profound understanding of Baloch history, the psyche of the masses, and a keen awareness of society’s pulse. He had the remarkable ability to use everyday language to narrate intricate stories of the human condition and broader societal struggles. His contributions to Baloch literature and poetic traditions were vast, leaving behind a rich legacy for future generations to unravel.
Beyond being Balochistan’s most beloved poet, Qazi will be remembered for his unwavering commitment to honesty and fearlessness and his relentless battle against power and authority in all its forms. While some viewed him as a person with unconventional morals and a vocal darwish, a closer examination reveals him as a true rebel who challenged social, political, and normative constraints that stifled human creativity, curtailed individual freedoms, and silenced essential public discourse. Qazi aimed to tear down the veil that obscured taboos, striving to bring into the light all that society preferred to keep hidden. Qazi’s disdain for conformity and power mirrored that of the Greek philosopher Diogenes, who once remarked, “In a rich man’s house, there is no place to spit but his face.” Qazi spat upon all forms of power, and this was his vendetta against all structures of authority that stifled freedom and the expression of human love and emotions. In his unfiltered honesty, he may well be the last true non-conformist of our age.
His sharp critique of political and social norms served as a reminder to us not to take our self-proclaimed truths too seriously. Through his outspokenness and unconventional approach, he reminded us of our humanity, emphasizing that being true to oneself and embracing our internal truths is the only honest way of living. Often, decorum and social norms are used to hide countless social and political realities that society prefers to avoid, much like a stinking corpse wrapped in the trappings of social morality. Qazi aimed to bring these uncomfortable truths to the marketplace, to tear down the veil and expose the uncomfortable social realities.
Qazi Mubarak’s legacy will continue to inspire generations to question authority, express themselves fearlessly, and embrace the beauty of unvarnished truth. His life and work stand as a testament to the enduring power of poetry, its ability to challenge the status quo, and its capacity to ignite change.