The Waris Mir Foundation has condemned a sudden and mysterious move by the Punjab government to change the name of the Waris Mir Underpass, near Punjab University Lahore where the late writer and intellectual used to teach journalism for about 25 years. Prof Waris Mir was a renowned intellectual, columnist and teacher who was decorated with the highest civilian award of the country — the Hilal-e-Imtiaz — by the state of Pakistan for his perpetual service to the country as a writer and journalist. In recognition of his meritorious contribution for the country, the New Campus Underpass, which runs through Punjab University, was named after him, as the Waris Mir Underpass in March 2013, by the Punjab government. The location was ideal, since Waris Mir had taught at the Mass Communication Department for thirty long years, with a stint of being the head of the department, too. Since he held residence with his family at the on-campus residential block, he was also buried in the graveyard adjacent to the Law College at the Punjab University. But Waris Mir was not the only one to be recognized by the state in March 2013, since all such newly constructed underpasses, which tallied up to more than a dozen across the city, were named after outstanding intellectuals and other such prominent personalities like Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Ashfaq Ahmed, Habib Jalib, Justice A. R. Cornelius, Ustad Daman, Chaudhry Rehmat Ali, Khushaal Khan Khatak, Liaqat Ali Khan, Chakar e Azam Rind, Justice A R Kiyani and Pitrus Bukhari et al. These names had been decided through procedure in several meetings of the City District Government, headed by a former judge of the Supreme Court.However, two days ago, the city district government suddenly removed the boards of Waris Mir Underpass and replaced them with new boards of Kashmir Underpass. However, the element of surprise in this hastily carried out exercise is based on the fact that although due process had been followed by the Punjab government in 2003, a strange sense of ambiguity and mystery has befallen the citizens of Lahore upon the overnight change of the name of the underpass from Waris Mir to Kashmir, which is symbolically an error of thought and judgment, since all other underpasses are named after known personalities, and this one has suddenly been named after a region, instead of a personality. Commenting upon the occurrence, the spokesman of Waris Mir Foundation was of the opinion that the move is nothing but an act of aversion, not against Waris Mir alone, but as a sequence of hatred and uncalled-for enmity against the Pakistani media, in general, which seems to be a line of action of the Tabdeeli government. “This act, in general, has only been secretly carried out to hurt the sentiments of hundreds of Waris Mir’s students, readers and his posterity,” the spokesman of the Waris Mir Foundation said, adding, that every writer who has been termed a traitor in the current political discourse, has been one to oppose and resist totalitarianism in the political setup of Pakistan and one to oppose curbs on the media. “It is impossible to alter history with chest-thumping jargons, and therefore, the word traitor shall not be associated with the names as one of Prof Waris Mir but with those who are responsible for the dismemberment of Pakistan and for desecreting the Constitution,” the spokesman said.Prof Waris Mir’s elder son, senior journalist and anchorperson Hamid Mir was attacked in Karachi in April 2004 but he survived miraculously. A family member of Prof Waris Mir commented upon the recent action in these words, “Replacing the plaque of Waris Mir Underpass cannot remove the honour attached to the name of Waris Mir and his progeny. The Mir in Kash-Mir is an ironic reminder of the original name of the underpass – Waris Mir Underpass.” Professor Waris Mir started off his journalistic career during the military rule of Field Marshall General Ayub Khan, which came to an abrupt end with his untimely demise in July 1987 during the martial regime of General Ziaul Haq. However, he spent all his life fighting for truth, justice, democratic principles, freedom and liberty of thought, although he had to pay a heavy price for his endeavors. What Waris Mir wrote and how he wrote, makes him an icon par excellence who continues to live on through his writings. The greatest contribution of Prof Waris Mir to the decade of retrogression was that he challenged the gospel truth being indoctrinated through state media as the national premise.At that time, the Islamic Goebbels of General Zia’s military regime had firmly established that the founding fathers of Pakistan wanted religion to be the doctrinal spirit of the state and that the PNA movement of 1977 was a mandate of the people for it to be made the source of law and life in the state. Waris Mir confronted this official truth by proving through his well-researched and scholarly dissertations that the type of discriminatory and anti people laws being enforced by the ruling junta at that time were not even correspondent to Islam itself. Islam, as he interpreted it, came in far more progressive than the Goebbels had deemed it to be. Prof Waris Mir died with his boots on at the young age of 48 under mysterious circumstances.