Veteran journalist and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Director IA Rehman has said that eminent progressive writer, journalist, film director and the recipient of Presidential Pride of Performance Award Hameed Akhtar, as a writer, journalist and political worker struggled for the progressive movement, social justice, unity, and prosperity of the ordinary people of Pakistan during his whole life.
Rehman was speaking at ‘A Farewell to Hameed Akhtar’ organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute here Monday.
Hameed Akhtar died in Lahore last month at the age of 87. Born in Ludhyana, India, He was a schoolfellow of Sahir Ludhianvi and Ibn-e-Insha. Hameed Akhtar’s association with left-wing politics repeatedly landed him into trouble with the authorities. He was jailed many times and his book ‘Kaal Kothri’ was a memento of his time in jail.
He also authored ‘Aashnayian kia kia’ and ‘Royedad-e-anjuman.’ IA Rehman said that Hameed Akhtar dreamed of a society with noble attributions, but it was difficult in an environment where the truth and courage was ridiculed and penalised. He said that Hameed gave voice to the neglected and oppressed of society, as he believed that any development without social justice is not a development. Talking of his literary work, he said that Hameed Akhtar’s books are a rare reference in Pakistan’s literary history.
National Language Authority Chairman Dr. Anwar Ahmed said that Hameed Akhtar will continue to reside in our hearts through his work. He talked about his early days of learning from Hameed Akhtar in Daily Imroz, Multan, where he was a source of inspiration for budding writers to put their energies for democratic aspirations, Left leaning causes and social justice. He also commended his work as columnist to promote books and literary culture throughout Pakistan.
Dr. Rawish Naveed, a poet from International Islamic University who is also secretary general, Progressive Writer’s Association, Islamabad, said that once ordinary poverty ridden people were the centre of finest global philosophies, ideas, movements and revolutions but today words such as revolution, poverty and struggle became irrelevant for new minds and persons who view such ideas as legacy of communism. But Hameed Akhtar, he said, represented a vibrant commitment, resolve and ideology, which will never die, even though he is no longer with us.
Writer and Intellectual Ashfaq Saleem Mirza said that unfortunately progressive movement in Pakistan bore no fruits for which the people like Hameed Akhtar strived for their whole lives. But he gave us the hope that someday-future generations might complete this unfinished agenda of equitable, peaceful and prosperous society.
Ahmad Salim, Senior Advisor, SDPI, said that despite old age and suffering from cancer since 1990, Hamid Akhtar continued to produce literary work, which became a stimulus for many including him to work hard in spite of many odds.
SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Q Suleri said that he grew up reading books of Hameed Akhtar, which were a must read at that time for young people. He said that progressive writers played a very positive role in struggle for social justice in Pakistan. He referred to writers such as Faiz, Sahir Ludhyanvi and Hameed Akhtar, who became beacons of change and social justice in society. He said that future generations benefit from the sacrifices made by their forefathers and legends and we are now living in free societies because of scarifies made by people such as Hameed Akhtar.