KARACHI, May 20: Colleagues and fans of well-known Sindhi author, poet, journalist and intellectual Shamsher Al Haidery hailed his services and significant contribution to Sindhi literature at a programme held in honour of the towering personality at the Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi, on Saturday evening.
Besides giving speeches, guests at the well-attended ceremony organised by the Arts Council in collaboration with the Sindh culture department also showed their appreciation to the intellectual — who has over the years mentored many people, including writers, poets and journalists, and founded many institutions — by presenting him shields, ajraks, bouquets and awards.
Sindh Information Minister Shazia Marri, the chief guest, announced a reward of Rs0.5 million for him. “This is a big gathering of very important people but no one here is as important as Shamsher Al Haidery. All of us here fade in his presence,” she said. “It is great to honour a legend in his lifetime,” she added.
Remembering her long association with Haidery Saheb, noted television personality Mehtab Akbar Rashdi said that he was the man behind her success on PTV. “There I would be conducting interviews with famous people of the time, asking them intelligent questions for which I would always receive praise from my fans. But it was really all thanks to my show Moti Mala’s scriptwriter Haidery Saheb,” she said. “He was the one who helped me know more about my subjects,” she admitted.
Speaking about his journalistic endeavours, she said: “The gentleman is one fine journalist, too. Daily Mehran’s circulation went up considerably after he joined it as its editor. His sharp pen on many an occasion even changed the government’s mind.”
About his poetic works, Ms Rashdi said that he had so many collections out and yet didn’t think of himself as a poet. “He says that he is not a poet as he is only following a technique,” she smiled at his modesty.
Former PTV producer Sultana Siddiqui said that she found Haidery Saheb a very optimistic and patient colleague. “Not just for Sindhi, I would even run to him when I needed guidance to write a script for Urdu or English programmes as well. I have only one grievance that he didn’t write for me the private TV channel I have joined. But I understand his loyalty to PTV and am glad that he kept on writing good scripts for the national channel,” she said.
It was a touching sight to see the frail and ailing Haidery Saheb, who has also lost his eyesight now, struggling to stand up in order to show his respect for every speaker.
Novelist and short story writer Ghulam Nabi Mughal appealed to the government to pay attention to Haidery Saheb’s poor health and extend assistance to him in his treatment. “It is commendable that the culture department helped provide proper medical treatment to Sobho Giyanchandani and Haidery Saheb also deserves the same.”
Culture department Director-General Rafique Ahmed Buriro said that he wanted to preserve all of Haidery Saheb’s works. “The department will reprint his books that have gone out of print,” he said, “and we would see to it that all libraries in Sindh have a set of his books,” he announced.
Selected couplets from the Haidery Saheb’s poetry were recited at the ceremony. Some of the speakers also recited their own poetry in his praise.
The occasion was also marked by the launch of the book Exploring Sindh by co-authors Haidery Saheb and (late) Anwer Pirzado, whose son, Amar Pirzado, told the audience that the authors had been given the assignment to work on the Sindh Gazetteer by Ms Rashdi when the latter headed the information department. “But Ms Rashdi left the department before its completion and it is only now that they have published it in book form on the directive of the incumbent Information Minister, Shazia Marri.”
A 12-minute PTV documentary highlighting Haidery Saheb’s life and work was also shown. It was announced that Radio Pakistan would release a CD of a detailed interview with him.
Arts Council Karachi president Syed Mohammad Ahmed Shah announced a lifetime honorary membership of the council for Haidery Saheb.
There was not a dry eye when the audience listened to Haidery Saheb’s daughter Naseem Haidery’s moving talk about her father’s struggle, his strong stand and uncompromising nature for the things that he believed in.
The programme was conducted in Sindhi by the Arts Council’s folk and heritage committee chairman Dr Ayub Sheikh. PTV deputy managing-director Mustafa Mandokhel, Jami Chandio, Hidayat Baloch, Dr Ghazala Rehman Rafiq, poet Imdad Hussaini, Yousuf Shaheen, Ghaffar Tabassum and Dr Suleman Shaikh also spoke.