Organiser of city’s major mushairas dies in car crash

Pakistan Press Foundation

KARACHI: Azhar Abbas Hashmi, one of the founding members of the cultural organisation Sakinan-i-Shehr-i-Quaid and a man of letters in his own right, died in a car accident in Defence here on Saturday. He was 76.

He leaves his wife and five sons.

Mr Hashmi was born in Gwaliar. He did his masters in geology from the University of Karachi in 1963. He was so fond of the university that after passing out from it he and his fellow students (Safwanullah, Masood Naqvi and Pirzada Qasim) formed an organisation of former students of the institution called Unikarians. Literary luminaries like Dr Farman Fatehpuri and politician Safwanullah had been president and the renowned scholar Dr Manzoor Ahmad had been vice president of Unikarians. In the late 1960s, Mr Hashmi travelled to Russia, after which he wrote a travelogue titled Safar hai shart.

More than three decades back, when Karachi was mired in violence and the situation was worsening day by day, Mr Hashmi and some of his friends decided to set up a platform where cultural activities of the city could be revived. They established the Sakinan-i-Shehr-i-Quaid that performed many tasks, the foremost of which was to organise an international mushaira (poetry symposium) on an annual basis. The mushairas became popular with every passing year, so much so that they began to attract big names (Khumar Barabankvi, Rahat Indori, Ahmed Faraz, Iftikhar Arif, Jaun Elia, Pirzada Qasim etc) from the world of Urdu poetry. The cultural forum also published books detailing the mushaira proceedings. Two hefty volumes containing all the information are still available in the market.

Mr Hashmi’s funeral will be held at Masjid-i-Sultan after Zuhr prayers on Sunday. He will be laid to rest in DHA Phase IV graveyard.