Senior progressive Pashto poet and chief of Khyber Pakhto Adabi Jirga Khairur Rahman aka Muntazir Baba died at Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC) here on Friday morning following protracted illness. He was 68.
He was laid to rest at his ancestral graveyard close to his village Alamkhani in Landi Kotal sub-division of Khyber Agency. He had diehard fans in KP and a large following in Kabul too as he enjoyed widespread respect for his progressive thoughts.
Local elders, notables and a large number of poets and writers attended his funeral. Literary circles have termed his demise a great loss to Pashto literature and have demanded of Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra and local political authorities to sponsor his unpublished literary works titled ‘Intezaar’ posthumously. Salar Khan, nephew of Muntazir Baba, told Dawn that his uncle had never sought financial assistance from the authorities. He said that being a self-made person he would keep his sufferings to himself.
Born on May 1, 1950, he passed his matriculation examination from Government High School, Landi Kotal, in 1967, but couldn’t get further education due to his poor family background. Groomed in the company of Baba-i-Pashto ghazal, Amir Hamza Khan Shinwari, Muntazir’s literary stature couldn’t be eclipsed, as he carved out a niche for himself in the Pashto literary circles due to his unique style of expression.
Prof Tawab Shah Masroor, general secretary of Khyber Adabi Jirga, remarked that Muntazir Baba’s literary services would always be remembered with veneration. He said that young poets and writers had learnt much from him. He said that his progressive style impacted the budding Pashto poets. “Muntazir Baba wanted us to use our talent for serving the cause of humanity and peace,” Mr Shah added.
In a recent interview on social media, Muntazir Baba had said that Bacha Khan, one of his school teachers, had inspired him to compose poetry with a stress on highlighting social issues. He remained associated with literary organisations despite his private business activities. He had been leading Khyber Pakhto Adabi Jirga for the last many years where he had been grooming budding poets and writers. Many young university students would gather around him for his critical remarks on their works.
Prof Abasin Yousafzai said Muntazir Baba contributed to modern Pashtun poetic thought as his poetry being simple was reflective of his creative and imaginative flight.
Originally published in Dawn, January 6th, 2018