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November 24, 2020

Ashfaq Saleem Mirza passes away

Islamabad

November 24, 2020

Islamabad:Ashfaq Saleem Mirza, prominent writer, poet, historian, honored as the ‘Living Legend’ only last year (2019) in July by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) for his contributions towards literature, breathed his last on early Monday (November 23).

It was on this gloomy, heavily overcast Monday that Kishwar Nahid, the renowned poetess, writer and woman rights activist called at around noon time to announce the demise of Mirza sahib, making, making the day gloomier.

It would be hard to encompass life and achievements of Ashfaq Saleem Mirza by the scribe because our association was not so extensive and I had my first interaction with him some 30 years ago when he was working as a Director in the Overseas Pakistanis Foundation (OPF).

Since the day of meeting him for the first time in his office in the OPF building in Sector G-5/2, he turned out to be such a kind, patronizing soul, always available to extend help whenever needed, even if was overburdened with his own official or personal endeavors.

Ashfaq Salim Mirza was associated with the Mazdoor-Kisan Part (MKP) of Afzal Bangash right from the beginning. He also worked for the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) when Faiz Ahmed Faiz was heading the institution. Later he joined worked as Director in the Overseas Pakistanis Foundation (OPF) and after retiring from OPF he became a member of the Trust for Voluntary Organisations (TVO) and later formed the Islamabad Cultural Forum.

He was also a member of the South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) and was a member of the Pak-India Forum as well to promote people-to-people contact aimed at promoting peace between the two countries.

Dr Abid Sulehri, Executive Director of the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), while recalling the deceased said: “He was a gem of a person, a philosopher, historian and above all a great mentor.

“Even in his last das he was working on his book. He was very sensitive to other writers and very often used to contact for journalists and writers get a job at SDPI and other organizations.

“He was shy of taking public recognition. I have to take few months convincing him that he should accept our ‘Living Legend Award’, which was awarded to him last year,” Dr Abid Sulehri said.

Namaz-e-Janaza of late Ashfaq Salim Mirza was offered at the H-11 graveyard after ‘Asar’ prayers and he was laid to rest with hundreds of his friends, admirers, followers including writers, poets, political workers, social workers and family and friends in attendance.