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Ahfazur Rahman
Poet/Writer
--: Biography of Ahfazur Rahman :--

 

 

Ahfaz-ur-Rahman (born April 4, 1942) is a Pakistani writer and poet. He is also a well-known journalist who has always struggled for the freedom of the press and for the rights of working journalists and other media workers. He has raised his voice both against the numerous dictatorial Pakistani regimes and the corporate media houses who refuse to give the journalists and other workers of the press industry their due.

Ahfaz-ur-Rahman has to his credit as many as 18 books and translations and is equally inspiring for his struggle for press freedom and implementation of Wage Board Award. Therefore, as a tribute, he has been referred to as "a rare breed" in the Pakistani media circles.

In February 2008, in what was a first in the history of Pakistani literature, four of his newly published books were launched at Arts Council Karachi on the same day in a well-attended ceremony that attracted people from all walks of life, including poets, writers, journalists, trade unionists and activists.

 
Rahman receiving the first prize from Faiz Ahmad Faiz in an Indo-Pak Youth Essay Writing Competition on Faiz

Rahman was born in Jabalpur, India and came to Pakistan when his family migrated to the newly-formed country in 1947. While still in high school he won the first prize in a competition for his article on the Urdu Poet and socialist Faiz Ahmad Faiz entitled 'Gandum kay khet, bachon kay haath aur shair," organised by well known literary magazine Afkar. He also won the first prize for "Paighamber kay naam", an article on the writings of Krishan Chander in a competition organised by Indian literary magazine 'Shair".

Inspired by Sahir Ludhyanvi, Krishan Chander and other stalwarts of the Progressive Writers' Movement since his school days, it was not astonishing that he emerged as a student leader of the left-wing student organisation, National Students Federation (NSF) and participated in 1962 and 1964 student upsurges against General Ayub Khan"s regime with zeal.


Rahman working alongside Chinese farmers in Rural China, during the cultural revolution

In 1969, Rahman landed a job in the Foreign Languages Press in Beijing China. These were the years of Cultural Revolution. During that time, Rahman says that while he saw and appreciated some of the progress that the country had made, he naturally also saw some of the things in the wrong direction. Rahman, along with other few foreign journalists was invited by the Chinese govt. to go and work in rural areas with Chinese farmers and witness the reforms that had been implemented. However, here he met a very old woman who had been ordered away from her family and made to work in the farm. Rahman later wrote a very touching short story entitled, "Dreams" about this woman, with the backdrop being his disillusionment with the cultural revolution.

He stayed in China till 1972 (four years) and translated many famous books of Chinese literature as well as the selected writings of Mao Zedong and others. He also compiled a text book for Urdu for Peking University

Rahman began his activism anew upon returning to Pakistan at the end of 1972. During the historic journalist movement against Zia-ul-Haq's regime in 1977-78, Rahman went underground and organizedthat movement and had to change 30 hideouts to escape arrest during that period. The movement had started in 1977, when the Daily Musawaat, Karachi, a newspaper with Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leanings, was banned by General Zia's government.

The historic movement during the Zia ul Haq regime consisted of three phases that lasted from Dec 1977 to July 1978. Rahman, at that time the General Secretary of Karachi Union of Journalists, was nominated Secretary General of the Joint Action committee of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists(PFUJ) and APNEC (All Pakistan Newspaper Employees Confederation) to organize the movement for the freedom of the press.

In 1985, he was invited back by the Chinese government to again work for the Foreign Languages Press in Beijing. This time he spent eight years there during which time, he translated numerous Chinese novels, plays, short stories, stories for children and biographies into Urdu.

After coming back to Pakistan in 1993, Rahman joined Daily Jang, the largest selling Urdu newspaper in Pakistan, as the Magazine Editor.

In 2002, he was elected unopposed President of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), which is the sole representative body of Pakistani journalists and is affiliated with the International Federation Of Journalists (IFJ), the largest federation of journalists in the world.During this time he faced great opposition from the Jang group owners, due to his role as the President of the PFUJ when he constantly protested against the greed of the newspaper and media house owners of the country for not giving the workers their due rights and for not implementing the wage board award as had been directed by the Government for long.

He was finally forced to pay the price for his outspoken activism when the Jang group terminated his services. After yet another period of unemployment, Rahman finally found a job in the Urdu newspaper Daily Express as the Magazine Editor. He also writes a weekly column that appears on Sundays in Daily Express, titled "Black and White" (Syaah o Safaid)

In November, 2007, Rahman was among the first journalists to be arrested during the protestsagainst the Musharraf government's decision to ban several media channels.

Rahman has worked to "revitalize" the Karachi Press Club and has "condemned the opportunist elements that were bent upon de-politicising the vibrant club"

On Feb 22, 2008 four of his books: Jang jaari rahegi, Nayee Alif Laila, Tareekh-i-Cheen and Chou En Lai (biography) were launched amid much fanfareNayee Alif Laila is a collection of his recent poems the majority of which are anti-imperialist in nature and target the United States government's violent and inhumane wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Noted literary critic Dr Mohammad Ali Siddiqui has said that Rahman's poetry is "very original"[12] and brings a fresh breath of air. He has also noted the creative use of language in the verses, which according to him are notably without any clichéd phrases.

Muhammad Ali Siddiqi also added in another article: "This is not a poetry of an armchair academic believing in the supremacy of people's aspiration's to have a dispensation of their own choice. For him legitimacy flows from the will of the people and dictators should be opposed tooth and nail because they are usurpers. I believe that Ahfaz-ur-Rehman is a poet of resistance of a different mould. He does not follow the idiom and linguistic structures of well known Urdu poets of protest and resistance. He begins his poem in a low-key, conversational style and comes up with unusual imagery, creating an effect of a higher intellectual depth. He does not relish idiomatic expressions. He regards them robbing him of his original, creative touch... motivated by a rare commitment to stand and be counted as one who believes in what he is writing." Jang Jaari Rahegi is a collection of his newspaper columns and articles. These encompass a lot of issues and problems being faced by the society. The articles presented in this book, critics say, show Rahman's unique style of expression

While out of the other two books, one is a brief history of China and the other is a translation of the definitive biography of the late Chinese premiere and revolutionary Chou En Lai. The books portray thehistory of China, describing the struggle of the people, leadership, social and political conditions of the countries of South Asia and the overall role of the Chinese leadership that is very informative

Renowned Urdu poet Jamiluddin Aali called the occasion of the launch of these books a landmark event in the last 40 years of the history of Urdu literature.

Publications

. Nai Alif Laila, a collection of poetry (poems and Ghazals)

. Jang jari rahay gi, a collection of articles

. Chou En Lai, biography,translation from English

. History of China, translation from English

. A Jail Warden's diary (prize winning short stories from China, translation from English)

. Lunar Eclipse (prize winning short stories from China),translation from English)

. Sunrise, a play by world renowned playwright, Cao Yu, translation from English

. Selected works of Mao Tse Tung, co-translator, translation from English

. Family, a novel by world renowned writer, Mao Dun,translation from English

. Taras Bulba, famous Russian novel by Nikolai Gogol,(adapted for children) translation from English

. World of Stories (for children) by famous Bulgarian writer, Angel Karralichev,translation from English

. Autumn in spring, collection of short stories by world acclaimed Chinese writer, Ba Jin, translation from English

. Qui Yuan, classical Chinese play by world renowned writer, Ko Mo Ro

. Three Conceited Kittens, Chinese novel for children, translation from English

. The Adventures of the Rag Doll, Chinese novel for children, translation from English

. Neemoo Keemoo, a short novel for children

. Great Britain, s book of general knowledge for Pakistani children

. Also translated about 50 pictorial Chinese books for children as well as books of Chinese folk tales

. Written hundreds of articles on political, social and cultural themes published in leading Urdu journals and newspapers

. 30 short stories in reputed literary magazines

Career in journalism

. Group Magazine Editor Daily Express, April 2005 till present

. Executive Editor Daily Amn, 2004-2005

. Group Magazine Editor Daily Jang, 1993-2004

. Editor Urdu Section, Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, China 1985-1993

. Assistant Editor Monthly Aalami Digest, Karachi 1979-84

. Magazine Editor Daily Mussawat, Karachi 1973-77

. Assistant Editor Weekly Al-Fatah, Karachi 1972-73

. Editor Urdu Section, Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, China, 1969-1972

. Sub-editor Weekly Akhbar e Jahan, Karachi 1966-68

Professional trade unionism

. President, Pakistan Fededral Union of Journalists, 2003-4 and 2004-5

. Secretary General of the Joint Action committee of PFUJ and APNEC, 1977-78 (movement for press freedom against Zia ul Haq)

. General Secretary, Karachi Union of Journalists 1976-78

. Joint Secretary, Karachi Union of Journalists, 1973-4 and 1974-75

. Member Executive Council National Students Federation (NSF), Pakistan 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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