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PESHAWAR: Noted Pashto poet, educationist and radio broadcaster Zeenat Anjum Khattak alias Fozia Anjum died of brain tumour at her daughter’s residence on Wednesday night in Chicago, the United States.

She left behind three daughters. She was laid to rest in a Chicago Muslim cemetery where her family members, close relatives and colleagues attended her funeral prayers. Literary circles have termed her death an irreparable loss for Pashto.

Fozia Anjum was born on June 5, 1939 in Jahangeeri and received her early education at her village school but then got rest of education privately including masters in psychology, Urdu and Pashto literature from University of Peshawar. She joined Pashto department, University of Peshawar as teacher and got retirement from there in 1999.

Ms Anjum used to contribute articles and features to Pashto journals on variety of issues. She composed poetry both in Pashto and Urdu. Her lone Pashto poetry volume titled ‘Da Ranra Pa Lor’ (On the way to light) was published in her lifetime. She went to the US in 2008 and joined a Pashto radio where she served as host of a popular show till a year ago when doctors diagnosed her with malignant brain tumour.

Zaitoon Bano, a close friend of Ms Anjum, told Dawn that the deceased poet belonged to a well-off Khattak family and got education in a time when it was an uphill task for girls. She said that she had worked with Ms Anjum at Radio Pakistan Peshawar and together used to host shows on issues of rural women.

“Fozia was very intelligent and creative. Women empowerment was her cherished dream. She could compose poetry both in Pashto and Urdu at equal measure. She was a symbol of courage and strength. We should remember her services as an academic, psychologist and litterateur par excellence,” said Ms Bano.

Nowsherawan Qalandar, one her colleagues, told this scribe by telephone that Ms Anjum was an active member of Pakhtun American Community Association (PACA).

Prof Abaseen Yousafzai told Dawn that Ms Anjum used to teach poetry of Rahman Baba at the Pashto department as she had a deep philosophical insight on Sufi thoughts. “I have been her student for two years in 80s. She used to teach us with great love and regard. She wrote less but her poems had purposeful substance,” he said.

Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2017