KARACHI, Sept 7: Well-known journalist, writer and poet Shafi Aqeel was laid to rest on Saturday afternoon. Aged 83, he passed away after a long illness here on Friday night. He had been associated with the Jang newspaper for more than six decades and was in charge of its literary magazine. He also wrote books on varied subjects, including art and literature.

Talking to Dawn, former editor of Jang and poet Mehmood Shaam said: “When I first came to Karachi from Lahore, I met him on the same floor of newspaper where Shafi sahib used to sit working for its magazine section. At the time he was translating Punjabi classics into Urdu in verse. I’m referring to an era when pages were made manually and there were no computers. I learned a lot from him. He wrote a great deal on art. I have not seen anybody else writing that much on art in Urdu. I think his death is a great loss and has closed a very important chapter in journalism.”

Prof Sahar Ansari said: “Society is increasingly getting intellectually depleted. Shafi Aqeel’s death has lent credence to this feeling. I’d known him for quite a long time. He was a self-made person. In the beginning he didn’t come across as a literary individual, but with the passage of time he proved how good a journalist he was and proved his literary acumen.

“Shafi Aqeel began his career with Majeed Lahori’s magazine and gradually rose to prominence in journalism. He was also a very good translator. The children’s magazine which he edited (Bhai Jaan) was a veritable effort because in that he introduced many a quality writer. Then his knowledge of art is known to all and sundry. Distinguished artists likes Sadequain, Ahmed Pervaiz and BM were his friends.”

Journalist Nasir Baig Chughtai said: “He was my teacher. He was very senior to me when I joined Jang’s newsroom. He used to come and give valuable tips to juniors like me. Also, he was a great reader of books. Books were his life. He used to lament that today the younger lot was not into reading as much as it should. Most of all, he was a fighter. When 20 years back he fell terribly ill, people said he won’t be able to recover. But he did recover and achieved some extraordinary feats in journalism.”

Poet and drama director Ayub Khawar said: “I first met him when I was in college. At the time eminent poet Athar Nafees was Shafi sahib’s colleague at Akhbar-i-Jahan. Athar sahib introduced me to him. He was a multidimensional man who wrote on many subjects. His insight into the world of art was exemplary. I think the void that his death has created will never be filled.”

Poet and researcher Aqeel Abbas Jafri said: “He was an amiable man. He admired people with intellect. The fact that he remained associated with one organisation for 63 years is a feat in itself. He was a selfless individual too, which is why after his brother-in-law died he decided not to get married in order to support his sister.

For a long time he was in charge of Jang’s literary magazine. The children’s magazine that he looked after needs special mention because in that he introduced the likes of Anwar Shaoor and Obaidullah Aleem. He wrote 30 books, two of which were collections of his poetry written in Punjabi.”

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