The late Azhar Abbas Hashmi, who passed away on February 27, was remembered at two separate events at the Sheikh Zayed Islamic Centre (SZIC), Karachi University (KU), and Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
The man behind the Aalmi Mushaira and the founder of Sakinan-e-Shehr-e-Quaid and Unikarians International - a KU alumni association - was remembered by his family members, college, university and professional fellows and many other poets and literati who knew him.
Sheikh Zayed Islamic Centre
To pay tribute to Hashmi's efforts, Unikarians International, in collaboration with Karachi University Teachers Society (Kuts), organised a condolence meeting at the SZIC auditorium.
It was due to Hashmi's efforts that the SZIC and more than 17 other mosques in the city were built. He was also part of the governing body of the Arts Council.
According to his friend, Anis Zaidi, Hashmi was a former student of KU who spent his whole life serving the institute. Usually Hashmi used to say that he could not repay in his lifetime what the university has given him, said Zaidi.
Unikarian International president Muhammad Iqbal Khan said that Hashmi believed in documenting things and kept records. "The ones who live and work for others never die and Hashmi sahab is alive in his words," he said.
Kuts president Shakeel Farooqui reminisced about how whenever he saw Hashmi, he wondered how a person can work so hard. Hashmi's sudden accidental death answered his queries. "With the news of Azhar sahab's death, I believed that people who have so much in them to give to the city never end naturally," he said.
KU vice-chancellor Dr Muhammad Qaiser remembered Hashmi as someone who believed that he can never return what KU has given him. To pay tribute to his immense work for the university, literature, poetry and culture, Qaiser announced that they will award a gold medal on his name and will also place his name plate at the SZIC.
"In the last 45 years since I know him, I have seen him as a person who loved Urdu exceptionally," said Justice (retd) Haziqul Khairi, talking about how his love and passion has given a lot to the city, including the Aalmi Mushaira. Khairi also remembered Hashmi as an extraordinary man.
SZIC director Noor Ahmed Shahtaj said that Hashmi was a man of patience. "He was the one who asked Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Nahyan to build the SZIC," Shahtaj added. "He always guided upcoming authors and poets to work and encouraged them."
Arts Council president Ahmed Shah said Hashmi was the happiest person when they started the Urdu Conference as it promotes literature and poetry among youngsters.
"Jamiluddin Aali, Fatima Surayya Bajia and now Azhar Abbas Hashmi - what will we do after them?" lamented TV producer Iqbal Lateef.
Hashmi's younger brother, Khursheed Hashmi, was the last person who was with him before the fatal accident. "He dropped me home after we had lunch and we were discussing how the big personalities have lived their last moments," he shared, his eyes brimming with tears.
Hashmi's sons remember their father as the one who always taught them discipline and to be helpful to others. His eldest son, Jamal Hashmi, pointed out that one should carry forward the thought and ideology that his father spent his life for.
"It is difficult to speak when you have to talk about a close friend who is not in the world anymore," said former KU registrar and Unikarians secretary Prof Muhammad Rais Alvi.
Sixty years ago, when Hashmi was a student of Urdu College, MNA Syed Safwanullah met him for the first time at the college canteen, which was then called 'Mamu ki Canteen'. Sharing Hashmi's vision and concern about the city's problems, he said it never happened in their decades-long relationship that he did not call to ask how he could contribute if anything happens in Karachi.
Institute of Business Administration dean and director Dr Ishrat Hussain remembered Hashmi as someone who awakened the sleeping love of poetry in him when Hashmi was associated with the United Bank Limited and Hussain was with the State Bank of Pakistan.
According to poet Sehar Ansari, Hashmi was a man known by everyone in the KU campus. He reminisced about how he was very good at parody and hooting and enjoyed his university life in the arts lobby to the fullest.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2016.
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