LAHORE: Renowned critic, short story writer and educationist Dr Saleem Akhtar passed away here on Sunday. He was 84.

The funeral prayers for him will be offered at 10am in the Kareem Block graveyard, near Jahanzaib Block, Allama Iqbal Town, today (Monday).

Dr Akhtar’s death has been widely condoled in the literary circles of Lahore. He was a giant of Urdu literature with a big contribution to it, not only in form of books he had written but a long career teaching. He wrote 88 books on different topics like criticism, psychology, religion and culture and in various genres, including short stories, novelettes and travelogues.

Dr Saleem Akhtar was born in Lahore on March 11, 1934. He got his early education in Pune, India, where his father was posted in military accounts. He did matriculation from Faizul Islam High School, Rawalpindi, and BA from Govt Degree College, Lower Mall, Rawalpindi. After a brief stint with a newspaper in Peshawar, he left the job and did MA Urdu as a private candidate. He also did a diploma in Library Sciences. His master’s degree got him a job as a lecturer at Emerson College, Multan in 1962 where he taught for eight years before being transferred to the Govt College, Lahore. During his teaching career, he also completed his PhD. He retired from the college as assistant professor in 1994.

Dr Saleem Akhtar’s book, Urdu Adab Ki Mukhtasar Tareen Tareekh, is one of his most known works. His early short stories had romantic and emotional themes. Among his popular short stories include Aik Mehbooba Aik Tawaif, Sweetheart, Kath Putli, Do Rastay Aik Pul and Machar. His short story collections such as Muthi Bhar Saanp, Adahi Raat Ki Makhlooq and Kadwe Badam got very popular. He was awarded Pride of Performance in 2008.

After the news of his death broke in the city, prayers were offered by the writers at the Pak Tea House. Among others the Pakistan Academy of Letters director Asim Butt also condoled on the sad demise of Saleem Akhtar. He said a golden chapter in Urdu literature had come to an end with the death of Dr Akhtar.

Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2018

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