PESHAWAR, Feb 7 Veteran politician and famous Pashto poet Mohammad Ajmal Khattak died in Nowshera on Sunday night after protracted illness. He was 85.
In his eventful life, he served as senator and MNA but lived in his tiny village home in his native Akora Khattak village till his death.
His funeral will he be held at the Akora Khattak Eidgah on Monday afternoon.
Mr Khattak, author of several books of poetry and prose in Pashto and Urdu, was born on Sept 15, 1926, in Akora Khattak. He became a household name in the Pakhtun society because of his contribution to literature and politics. He had been suffering from a number of ailments for a couple of years and was occasionally hospitalised.
He twice served as the president of the Awami National Party and became the party's general secretary in 1973. He received the Kamal-i-Fun Award in 2008.
ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan expressed grief over the death of Mr Khattak and announced three-day mourning by the party.
Mr Khattak was organiser of the United Democratic Front and was the stage secretary of a public meeting at Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi on March 23, 1973, when shots were fired at the leaders, including the late Khan Abdul Wali Khan, and several political workers were killed.
After the incident, he went into exile in Afghanistan. He returned in 1989 and was accorded a warm welcome.
He was elected MNA from Nowshera in 1990 and senator in 1994.
“I am deeply concerned about the political situation in South Asia. What is being done against the Pakhtuns troubles me more than my illness,” he had told Dawn from a hospital bed last year.
In Afghanistan, he was respected by the government and was given the status of a state guest by the then president Sardar Daud Khan. He maintained cordial relations with successive Afghan governments during the Soviet occupation of that country.
Mr Khattak had developed a feeling that being a man of letters his involvement in active politics was an aberration. He had been born with the restless soul of a poet and realised that he could serve his people through his poetic talent.
Like many other important poets of the sub-continent, he too was influenced by the Russian Revolution.
His poems, highlighting the exploitation of peasants and other oppressed people, were sung at meetings of progressive parties.
He set a poetic tone different from that of his contemporaries. His poetry is a blend of the beauty of human nature and the courage of a revolutionary.
His first poem was published in 1944 in the magazine Pakhtun and the first collection of his poems, Da Ghairat Chagha, was published in 1958, but banned in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
His popular books include Batoor, Gul Parhar, Guloona Takaloona, Da Ze Pagal Wom?, Zhwand Au Fan, Kachkol, Da Afghan Nang, Da Wakht Chagha, Da Zhwand Chagha and Qisa Zama Da Adabi Zhwand.
Mr Khattak also authored Jalawatan ki Shairi, a collection of his Urdu works.