KARACHI, Sept 6: Journalist, writer, poet and political activist Hasan Abidi died in Karachi on Tuesday following a heart attack. He was 76. Mr Abidi, who had become a freelance journalist after a long association with the Dawn Group of Newspapers, used to write a weekly literary column for Dawn’s Karachi Metropolitan pages that ranged over the city’s literary and cultural scene, and also contributed to Books & Authors. He had handed in his latest column on Monday evening.
He had seemed his usual modestly cheerful self and had worked for some time in his room in the Dawn office. He had suffered from heart disease in the 70s, but had recovered and was full of energy and life. The fatal attack came suddenly early on Tuesday morning.
Born in Zafarabad in Jaunpur district in India on July 7, 1929, Hasan Abidi was educated in Azamgarh and Allahabad before migrating to Pakistan in 1948. He was an ardent believer in progressive thought which he advocated both in his writings and in his career as a political worker and trade unionist.
He began his journalistic career from Lahore when he became associated with the daily Afaq in 1955. In 1957, he joined Lail-o-Nahar, which was then edited by Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Syed Sibte Hasan. He then moved to Karachi to join the daily Mashriq’s Akhbar-i-Khwateen weekly and became its editor before moving on to Dawn.
Mr Abidi was a prolific writer, boldly exploring social themes and issues of concern to the common people. His publications include Navisht-i-Nai (1995), Jareeda (1998) and Farar Hona Haruf Ka (2004). Kaghaz ki Kashti and several stories for children were among his literary contributions.
A book of memoirs, as recorded by Syed Jaffar Ahmed, was launched only last month in which he narrated a story of extreme hardship from which he gained both courage and a sense of tolerance and justice. The book is aptly titled “Junoon mein jitney bhi guzri ….”
For his political and trade union work, he suffered prison on several occasions. A couplet that he wrote during one of his spells in jail was very popular: “Ik ajab booe nafas aati hey deewaron sey, Hai zindan mein bhi kya loag they hum sey pahle.” Mr Abidi was president of the Karachi Press Club and held office in both the Karachi Union of Journalist and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists. He was also an active member of the Irtiqa forum.
He is survived by his wife and three children, a son and two daughters.
The funeral prayers were offered at Imambargah Khairul Amal, and Mr Abidi was laid to rest in the Wadi-i-Hussain graveyard on Tuesday afternoon.
Soyem will be held on Wednesday between 4pm and Maghrib at House B-16, Block 4-A, Gulshan-i-Iqbal.