Wednesday October 04, 2023

Tribute paid to Akhtar Baloch for lifelong activism, research on Karachi

By Our Correspondent
August 06, 2022

Speakers at a condolence reference at the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Friday paid rich tributes to journalist, author and rights activist Akhtar Baloch who passed away last Sunday.

The event was attended by a large number of journalists, writers, rights activists, and friends and family members of Baloch. Sindh Labour Minister Saeed Ghani, who attended the event as the chief guest, said he had an association with senior members of the club and Baloch was one of them. “I do politics in Karachi and would always seek guidance from Akhtar Baloch on the city’s issues. His demise is a big loss for people who would turn to him for guidance,” he said.

Poet, columnist and rights activist Harris Khalique said he had a 35-year-old relationship with Baloch whom he first met in Hyderabad. “Not as much work on Karachi has been done as it should have been but Baloch did a fundamental work on the city’s history and cultural heritage that would keep him alive forever,” he said, recalling that the late author had also been a victim of enforced disappearances but returned home soon thanks to Asma Jahangir and other civil rights activists who vigorously campaigned for his recovery.

Baloch was known as a rights activist before he came to be known as a writer and a journalist, said Zohra Yusuf, former chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. She termed his demise a blow to the commission.

KPC President Fazil Jamili said Baloch was a target-oriented person who would set targets and try to accomplish them. His book titled Teesri Jins was an in-depth study on transgender persons, the speaker added. He also praised Baloch for his works on Karachi, saying such works helped rediscover and redefine Karachi’s history that was different from what was usually taught in textbooks.

Saeed Jan, one of Baloch’s closest friends, said Baloch fell sick and died in a matter of two days. “A happy and cheerful person has departed this world. He was a strange person who desired to do everything; composing music, writing books and having a PhD,” he remarked, adding that the late writer would read multiple books just to produce a single research-based writing.

HRCP Acting Chairperson Asad Iqbal Butt, and journalists Saeed Sarbazi, Naimatullah Bukhari, Akhtar Soomro, Arbab Chandio, Mahesh Kumar and Younus Mahar also spoke at the event. Baloch hailed Mirpurkhas. He served as an office-bearer of the Hyderabad Press Club and HRCP's coordinator in Sindh. He authored four books — three on Karachi and one on transgender persons.