PESHAWAR: Noted Pashto writer Zaitoon Bano breathed her last at Lady Reading Hospital Peshawar on Tuesday after brief illness. She was 83.

She was suffering from multiple health complications. She left behind two sons and two daughters to mourn her death. Her funeral will be held today (Wednesday) on Warsak Road opposite to Prime Hospital at 10am.

Ms Bano was a household name in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and even parts of Afghanistan for her bold expression and strong voice to highlight issues of women. She enjoyed the same respect and literary acumen in Pashto literary circles as accorded to Bano Qudsia in Urdu fiction.

She had inspired four generations of Pakhtun literati. Born on June 18, 1938 in Sufaid Dheri, a village near Peshawar, she had done masters privately in Pashto and Urdu, and later served as senior producer at Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC). She had also taught at various educational institutions. She had married Taj Saeed, a noted Urdu and Hindko writer. The duo like Ashfaq Ahmad and Bano Qudsia enjoyed good reputation in the literary circles.

Ms Bano had authored more than 24 Pashto and Urdu books. Between 1958 and 2008, her popular Pashto fiction books included Hindara, Maat Bangree, Juandi Ghamoona, Khoboona, Kachkol, Zama Dairy, Naizurray, while her Urdu publications included Sheesham Ka Pata, Berge Arzoo, Bargad Ka Saiya and Waqt Kee Dehleez Par.

The culture directorate had published a huge Pashto collection of Zaitoon Bano’s short stories titled Da Shagu Mazal three years ago. The book, spread over 700 pages, covers stories written between 1958 and 2017. Manjeela, her only Pashto poetry collection, was published in 2006.

The writer had contributed numerous feature plays to PTV and Peshawar Radio on a variety of social issues including women rights.

She was recipient of about15 national literary awards including the coveted President’s Pride of Performance in recognition of her immense contributions to Pashto and Urdu fiction.

Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2021

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