Pakistani poet who advocated better ties with India is dead

August 26th, 2008 - 7:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Aug 26 (IANS) Pakistani Ahmed Faraz, considered one of the greatest Urdu poets and an ardent advocate of better ties with India, died here at age 77. Faraz, who died Monday night, is survived by his wife and three sons. He had taken ill during a visit to the US and had spent over a month in a hospital in Chicago.

Born in Nowshera (Pakistan) Jan 14, 1931, Faraz was often compared with the legendary Faiz Ahmed Faiz. He belonged to the category of litterateurs such as Firaq, Ismat Chugtai, Saadat Hasan Manto, Mohinder Singh Bedi, Ali Sardar Jafri and Makhmoor Jalandhari.

Faraz was a keen participant in Urdu concerts across the world, including India.

The last time he was in New Delhi, in November 2007, he spoke about India-Pakistan relations as well as poetry.

Faraz strongly believed that the two countries could work together to further the cause of peace.

“If India can help Pakistan with better education and medical facilities, Pakistan can help India as we produce the world’s best sports material, cotton textiles and surgical instruments,” he said.

He added that Pakistanis were touched whenever Pakistani children with heart ailments were cured in India.

“People on both sides of the border share the same food, breathe the same air, entertain themselves with the Khans of Indian filmdom. Aishwarya (Rai) and Preity (Zinta) are Pakistanis’ darlings! If Indian and Pakistani politicians work positively, both countries can get rid of the scarcity of water, electricity, foodgrain.”

According to Kaleem Khwaja, a US-based Urdu scholar, Faraz stated in his many discourses that Islam teaches true tolerance and equality. But he refused to accept the hegemony of the mullahs.

If Faraz wrote on Ghalib or Faiz, he also wrote on Meera Bai and Kabir. A revolutionary to the core, he was uncompromising when it came to upholding principles and set high moral standards in social and personal life.

A voice of all progressive Pakistanis, he called a spade a spade and wrote against military regimes. For this, he was hounded in Pakistan.

He believed that democracy needed to prevail in Pakistan - and he heartily saluted India for its democratic credentials.

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