A tribute to Anwar Sahib Khan

By Hazaran Rahim Dad
Tue, 03, 24

This week You! features Anwar Sahib Khan, a renowned Balochi poet whose poetry is equally appreciated among both men and women…

A tribute to Anwar Sahib Khan


Reading Anwar Sahib Khan (1944-2018) feels like standing in front of a beach at sunset, where the sky is painted in warm colours and golden waves splash against the shore. His poetry mirrors the beauty of nature, encompassing elements like wind, evenings, oceans, birds, pain, and the socio-cultural conditions of his Balochistan. At times, he brushes the chilly ocean wind, while at others, he paints it with stark reality. His verses offer a poetic blend of the serene beauty nature provides and the harsh truths of Earth.

Born in the coastal city of Pasni, Balochistan, Pakistan, Anwar Sahib Khan spent his entire life there, from his birth on April 11, 1944, until his passing on August 3, 2018. In his lifetime, he published two collections of his poetry, Under the title of ‘Chothar’ his first collection and last is ‘Sarechk’.

He discovered his love for poetry as a teenager and later married at the age of 25. In 1974, he became a part of the National Bank of Pakistan (Pasni) and continued to work there until his retirement in 2002. Serving as a cashier in Pasni, Panjgur, Gwadar and Jiwani, he developed a deep connection with the people and enrichment of Jewani. This coastal city, renowned for its breath-taking sunsets and beach, greatly influenced his poetry. Even after retirement, he continued his monthly visits to Jewani, cherishing the memories and inspiration it provided for his verses.

During a water scarcity crisis in Jewani in 1987, a significant protest unfolded, leading to the unfortunate death of a Baloch female kid named Yasmeen. In response, Anwar Sahib Khan penned poignant lines dedicated to Yasmeen:

“Kahe eda dast aa samareeth maye sara

Aap Lotaan, aas gwareth maye sara”

These lines convey the sentiment that in this place, no one extends a helping hand, and when they asked for water, they were met with hostility, symbolized by the metaphorical showering of fire.

Anwar Sahib Khan was widely known among the Baloch people as Mama. He could be spotted every evening by the seaside in Pasni, quietly gazing at the sea. Consequently, many of his poems are infused with the metaphors and symbols of the ocean and the wind, reflecting the deep connection he had with the coastal environment and the societal realities.

Anwar Sahib Khan’s poetry explores the complexities and conditions of human experiences. One of his notable verses often quoted by him in literary programmes reflects this perspective:

“Badbahti ey sogatan emroz ey Kawara kant

Brate k by beet duzhmin sad duzhmin ey kaar’an kant”

In these lines, he criticises the contemporary era for the difficulties people encounter. The second line emphasises the profound impact of personal betrayal, suggesting that when a brother turns into an enemy, it can be as detrimental as facing hundreds of enemies.

In his poetry, there’s a heartfelt longing for friendship and companionship, where love and camaraderie have the transformative power to turn difficult days into prosperity. As he beautifully expresses:

“Puley Mehra’n wati yak randay beday

Suthkag en zind’a dge yak zinday bdy”

In these lines, he articulates that if given the gift of love, even days spent in isolation and hardship would blossom into beauty and vitality, ignited by the spark of love.

Anwar Sahib Khan’s poetry extensively explores the Baloch people and the socio-political conditions of Balochistan, expressing a yearning for a society free from violations and oppressions, where nature, symbolised by birds, wind, and the ocean, can enjoy its freedom. For instance, in the following lines:

“Hoon’ani Dard ay amach, Jonani Bazen Jangal

Shantul tae shezarag teerani tawar’a kant”

Here, he symbolically connects the fast flow of blood to the rapid sounds of rain, depicting a metaphorical rainfall of blood on the earth, highlighting the violations against human lives. The subsequent metaphor of a forest of dead bodies emphasizes the prevalent violations on Earth, where the song of a Nightingale is replaced by the haunting sounds of bullets.

He wasn’t just a remarkable Balochi realist poet but also an exceptional actor in the Balochi film industry. Anwar Sahib Khan, showcased his acting prowess in numerous Balochi films, most notably in the widely acclaimed “Balochistan Hotel.” Renowned for both his serious and humorous roles, he remained dedicated to both acting and poetry until his last days.

His journey in Balochi cinema began with the films ‘Moko Eleven’ and ‘Shagam Ragam’, both released in 1980 when he embarked on acting at the age of 39. Notably, his final Balochi film, ‘Doda’, was released in 2022, marking a significant achievement as the first Balochi film to successfully screen in the Pakistani cinema industry. Despite filming in 2018, Anwar Sahib Khan passed away that same year at the age of 71, and the film was released posthumously.