The Arts Council of Pakistan Karachi paid tribute on Wednesday to acclaimed writer, literary critic Dr Asif Farrukhi, who passed away on June 1, 2020, succumbing to ill health. Friends, scholars and the literati joined the event virtually from across the world to remember the late intellectual.
“Asif is sorely missed. Even today, if there is a need for consultation, then Asif Farrukhi comes to mind first,” said Arts Council President Mohammad Ahmed Shah.
Addressing the session, Ahmed Shah recalled that Dr Farrukhi started writing stories at the age of eleven. He worked hard on fiction, criticism, and translations. He played a major role in the International Urdu Conference and Karachi Literature Festival.”
“Soon, the arts council will launch a series on Dr Farrukhi’s short stories” Shah announced.
Virtually joining the event from the United States of America, anthropologist Dr Kamran Asdar Ali said that Dr Farrukhi’s death was not easy to comprehend. “There were many aspects to his life. He was a doctor, a writer, an editor, a good father, and a good friend. His memories will keep him alive.”
Presiding over the session, Afzal Ahmed Syed said Dr Farrukhi had many personalities through which he influenced society. Syed added Asif will be remembered as a novelist in Urdu literature.
Meanwhile, another friend Karan Singh said he had the virtue of working himself, but he had a knack for getting others to work for him. “One of the virtues was that his every friend thought he was closer to him.”
A teacher remembered
Meanwhile, at an online webinar organised by the Habib University former students and colleagues of Dr Farrukhi remembered fondly his contributions to the world of literature and the classroom.
Dr Farrukhi had a larger-than-life personality, yet, despite his immense standing as an award-winning writer and poet with significant contributions to the world of literature - Urdu, English and vernacular - he always remained very humble, warm and supportive of all of his students and colleagues.
This was expressed by the varsity’s faculty and students as they paid tribute to him on his first death anniversary in the webinar titled, Dr Asif Farrukhi as a Teacher.
The webinar was moderated by HU Comparative Humanities Associate Professor Dr Nauman Naqvi. The panel of speakers included other senior faculty members and alumni.
At the beginning of the session, Dr Naqvi gave an overview of Dr Farrukhi’s storied career, from his lineage of being a descendant of the great writer Nazir Ahmed, popularly known as Deputy, to training as a public health physician, while exploring and expanding academic and research interests in literature and languages.
As a teacher, he spent nearly a decade teaching medicine at Aga Khan University before introducing the culture of mass literary festivals in Pakistan by initiating the Karachi Literature Festival in collaboration with the Oxford University Press.
“I had approached Dr Farrukhi to join HU back when he was working with UNICEF. He agreed within a couple of meetings and this is where this transformational literary journey began [for Habib University],” he said.
He noted that Dr Farrukhi truly became an institution builder after joining Habib University as a key founding faculty member, helping set up institutions such as the Arzu Centre for Regional Languages and Cultures and establishing some of the signature courses which make up the university’s liberal arts and sciences core.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 3rd, 2021.