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NOWSHERA: Renowned research scholar, poet, critic and former director of Pashto Academy, University of Peshawar Dr Rajwali Shah Khattak died of cardiac arrest late on Monday night. He was 63.

According to his family sources, Dr Rajwali Shah Khattak was on his way back from Swat along with his family members when he suffered a fatal heart attack following a severe pain in chest in Malakand, Dargai. He is survived by his widow and eight sons.

He was laid to rest at his ancestral graveyard in Dak Ismailkhel, Nowshera on Tuesday. Delegates from Afghanistan, Quetta, Fata, Swat, Dir, Malakand, Buner, Swabi, Mardan, Charsadda, Kohat, Bannu, Nowshera and Peshawar attended his funeral prayers.

Noted progressive Pashto poet Rahmat Shah Sail, Prof Yar Mohammad Maghmoom Khattak, Salim Raz, Prof Iqbal Naseem Khattak, Prof Abaseen Yousafzai, Dr Khaliq Ziar and a large number of writers, teachers, students and fans of the late poet were present on the occasion. However, no government official or lawmaker attended the funeral prayers of the great Pashto writer.

Dr Rajwali Shah had authored around 20 books in Pashto, Urdu and English. He had also compiled more than 100 critical reviews on various books and other academic works.

Dr Raj Wali Shah had to his credit around 60 research articles, published in different journals of international repute. He was a resource person for Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC), Pakistan Television (PTV) and British Broadcasting Corporation, London as well as Voice of America on themes of diverse nature.

His in-depth reviews found place in the international print and electronic media including the New York Times Pashto writer Dr Rajwali dies of cardiac arrest and the Washington Post.

Former president of Pakistan retired Gen Pervez Musharraf had conferred Tamgha-i-Imtiaz on Dr Raj Wali Shah for his great contribution to Pashto language and literature.

The Pashto literary circles have widely mourned his untimely death and termed it an irreparable loss to Pashto literature.

Born on January 25, 1952, Dr Rajwali Shah received his early education from his village school and then did intermediate and graduation from the historic Islamia College, Peshawar. He launched his poetic career when he was a student of 9th grade. He qualified master in Pashto literature in 1977 from Pashto department, University of Peshawar and completed doctorate thesis in 1985 from University of Peshawar.

He served as teacher at Edwardes College Peshawar from 1976 to 1978 and then joined Pashto Academy, University of Peshawar as research officer. He was appointed director of Pashto Academy in 1995 and got retirement in 2004. He also served as dean of faculty of arts, University of Peshawar.

In 1985, Dr Rajwali Shah received his PhD degree by completing his thesis on “Literary Movements in Pashto” from University of Peshawar. During his PhD, he had a chance to be supervised and examined by Ghani Khan, Hamza Baba and Prof Pareshan Khattak.

Paying tribute to Dr Rajwali Shah, renowned poet and chief of Qami Leekwal Malgari, a literary organisation, M R Shafaq said that his death was a great loss for his family as well as Pashto literature. His thoughts and ideas were as beautiful as his personality, he said, adding that he ruled the domains of poetry, criticism and research in Pashto literature for which he was praised by his contemporary writers.

M R Shafaq said that Dr Rajwali Shah used to attend literary seminars in Peshawar, Mardan and Islamabad. “His review on my ‘Sangzar’ was a beautiful piece of prose. I regret that I couldn’t attend his funeral prayers owing to my illness,” he added.

Published in Dawn, July 22nd, 2015

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