Ahmed Faraz dies: poetry loses a voice, people a friend

From Dawn:

Faraz Islamabad, Pakistan: A famed and eminent career in Urdu poetry and a life lived richly in the pursuit of progressive ideals has come to an end. Acclaimed, admired and widely sung, his poetry was rich in romance and progressive ideas on the side of the great unwashed and the downtrodden of the earth. His voice was unwelcome in the halls of power. He opposed usurpers and dictators alike. His reward was exile during the regime of Gen Ziaul Haq, who could not tolerate his association with the PPP government when he became the head of the Pakistan Academy of letters. Upon return of democratic rule, he was appointed head of the National Book Foundation. He earned recognition as a poet early with the publication of his first collection of verses. Successive books of poetry added to his stature as a leading poet of the country and the Urdu language.

His name is reckoned with among the great of his contemporaries — Faiz, Rashed, Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi. He had a strong bass and a plaintive Sing-song style of his own in which he recited his verse to adulating audiences at mushaeras that made him a household name among lovers of poetry. In the last decade of his life largely during general Musharraf’s regime he had a hard time keeping his job as head of the national book foundation that he ultimately lost. His subdued disclaimers had then no holds left and he came out openly against military dictatorship and returned the national award that had been conferred on him. Since then in all of his public appearances he was strong in his opposition to the unlawful regime. He gave his full support to the lawyers movement for the restoration of judiciary.

Although he will live in the romance and passion of his lyrical poetry, his death will e widely mourned, because in him the weak and the poor of the land have lost a friend.

(Note: Dedicated to my sister Dr. Atiya Khan and brother in law, Dr. Tariq Khan who were Faraz Sahib’s dearest friends. The entire Raza clans deeply mourns the loss of this beloved and great personality from our lives).

More here.