Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow


Music by Shahram Azhar and Taimur Rahman of the music band Laal [Red].

In the prime of our youth
We dreamt of hope
Testimonies of a new world
Anthems of a new tomorrow
A world in which no one
Suffered sorrow or knew of hunger
On this side there were multitudes
On the other the elite
On this side the hungry, the naked
On the other the treasures of Egypt
On this side were mothers and sisters
On the other prisons and jails
On this side the third world
On the other the old imperial order
On the one hand [the sufis] Sachal and Bahu
On the other hand the clergy and tradition
On the one hand [the lovers] Heer and Ranjha
On the other hand dogma and oppressive relatives
On the one hand rivers of nectar
On the other the waves of drops of poison
The whole world was asking
Speak! whose side are you on?

We had already declared
That we are with the workers
We are with the needy
We are with the oppressed
And then when Che leapt forward
We all marched with him
And when Chou [En lai] raised his voice
Hand in hand we followed
We were not divided by religion
And we all become one
The history of the world is witness
Without justice there can be no democracy
If we have justice our country
Can be saved from utter destruction
Without justice all [democratic] institutions remain weak
Without justice all individuals remain oppressed
Without justice citizens are helpless
Without justice there is nothing but sorrow
Just think, in the history of the world
When has the lawgiver been imprisoned
Just for the ego of a dictator
Justice has been trampled
It seems that one force straddles the earth
Roaming the entire world
It seems like every power falls at its feet
Its bombardment has resulted in rivers of blood
It has made religion extreme, and suicide bombers have grown
But hark! true lawgivers will return to the halls of justice
We will provide the people with bread, clothing, and housing
Flour, electricity, water, fuel will become available to the people
The unemployed will find employment and work of their choice
The state will be like a mother, it will care for all citizens
The army will be respected only when it stays at the border
March on, march on, tell the world,
that our steps cannot stop
March on, march on, tell the world, that our heads can no longer bow
The road ahead is not long, we can see our destiny
The oppressor is running scared, victory is our destiny
Victory is our destiny
Victory is our destiny
Victory is our destiny

Aitzaz Ahsan is a barrister at law, President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, and a leader of the Lawyers’ Movement that helped put an end to the Pervez Musharraf dictatorship. The text above is a poem titled “Kal Aaj Aur Kal” that he wrote in the course of development of the Lawyers’ Movement, now set to music by Laal. The video is from Laal’s album Umeed-e-Sehar (Hope of Dawn). Translation by Taimur Rahman. H/T to Umer Chaudhry’s blog Red Diary at