KARACHI: Poets and literati of the city gathered at the Art Council of Pakistan on Sunday evening to pay tribute to the renowned poet, critic, writer, translator and academician Prof. Taha Khan.
The famed writer died at the age of 84 in Peshawar on August 25. Pakhtun Thinkers Forum, a group of Pashto writers, artists and social activists, organised a condolence reference to mark the achievements of Prof Khan who authored 20 books and translated the collections of Pashto Sufi poet Rehman Baba and portions of the Khushal Khan Khattak’s poetry into Urdu.
Speaking on the occasion, noted novelist and poet Prof. Ali Haider Malik, who presided over the reference, said in terms of population, Karachi is the biggest city for Pashto-speaking people but Pashtun culture is not so visible in the metropolis like it is in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa cities. He advised groups like the Pakhtun Thinkers Forum to arrange literary events and bring the Pashto literature produced in the city to the front.
Malik lauded the efforts of Prof. Khan for translating Pashto poetry into Urdu, saying that, “It is no doubt a legend’s work. He is someone who got afflicted with blindness in 1988 but continued to translate and author books,” he said.
“If we praise Prof Khan and give him credit for being a Pashto speaker and for working for the promotion of Urdu literature, then it will not be right. In fact, he is a poet and scholar on merit. Language is for those who adopt it.”
Arif Manzur Malik, a student of Prof Khan, spoke about the latter’s life as a teacher in the PAF College Peshawar, where he was loved by every student for his devotion to his profession and his soft speech. “He was so nice and polite to every one of his students that most of his students remained in touch with him till his death.” He was a sharp-minded man and was fond of visting his friends in different areas. The Kund Park of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was his favourite spot.
Iqbal Latif, a member of the governing body of the Arts Council, appreciated the efforts of the forum for choosing the council for the event. “Prof Khan was a big name in literature and we want the council to honour the efforts of literary figures without any prejudices or differences,” said Latif.
Pakhtun Thinkers Forum chairperson Qasim Jan said, “People like Prof. Khan are legends. They serve as bridges between different cultures and allow people to learn from each other. The work which he did in literature makes you feel that he only worked on books all his life.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2013.