Octogenarian Masud Akhtar Shaikh has a significant role in bringing Turkey and Pakistan closer. It is safe to say that Pak-Turk friendship is his endeavour. For this mission, he became author, publisher and distributor.
Masud has translated 21 Turkish books in Urdu since 1985. He also authored three books and one can find vivid descriptions of Turkish culture, heroes and history in his memoirs. He also translated a book from Urdu to Turkish language on the request of the Turkish government. A majority of the books are collections of short stories. In addition, Masud has translated The Land of Bees and the mystical stories of Turkish writer Ali Nar. Because of his significant contribution, he was also selected for one of Turkey’s highest literary awards. Turkey ke Behtreen Afsaane, Mesud Bey’s Laugh or Lament, Yasar Kamal’s Raahon ke Saathi, Murda Gadhe ke Saathi and translations of Turkish poetry and novels into Urdu, including that of Nazim Hikmat, are some of his finest literary contributions.
His romance with Turkey started from a language course trip back in 1963. Along with his colleague from what is now Bangladesh, he decided to roam freely in Turkey and had preferred maximum interaction with people in the markets instead of sitting in the classroom. Besides learning Turkish, he also learnt about their society and culture. Sheikh served as General Zia’s translator during the former dictator’s visit to Turkey. He served in the armed forces and retired as a colonel in 1976, preferring the pen over the sword even during his service. These days Sheikh is busy writing his biography, noting down memories from his reception in Turkey as a Pakistani writer.
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Masud Akhtar Shaikh
Turkish Ambassador to Pakistan Mustafa Babür Hizlan in a recently held ceremony said, “Turkey has two ambassadors in Pakistan, the other one being Sheikh.” He thanked Sheikh for familiarising Pakistani readers with renowned Turkish writers and poets like Aziz Nesin, Necip Fazil, Orhan Kemal, Omer Seyfettin and Resat Nuri Guntekin among others, and for quenching the Turkish side’s longstanding thirst for Pakistani literature by introducing them to poets like Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Ahmad Faraz, Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, Parveen Shakir, Iftikhar Arif and Ejaz Rahim.
In an interview with The Express Tribune, the veteran serviceman said despite his old age, his love for Turkey compels him to contribute more towards bringing the two countries together. “Translating books written by eminent writers both in Turkey and Pakistan would further develop understanding and shall bring the people of the two countries together,” he said. “Today’s Turkey is much different from the Turkey of 1963,” Masud added.
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Masud became the publisher of his own books because most of the time publishers did not honour their commitment. His latest experience with a well-reputed publishing house wasn’t the best of dealings. Masud said that he therefore decided to publish his own books, purchase all the copies and distribute. With assistance from his family members, he posts books that are requested to him via letters. “This gives immense pleasure to me and my family,” Masud said.
The writer is a staffer at The Express Tribune.
He tweets @azamshaam
Published in The Express Tribune, December 6th, 2015.
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