Missing bureaucrat’s works draw President Alvi, Justice Minallah’s attention

Published May 29, 2022
President Dr Arif Alvi looks at the works of Amjad Afridi displayed at Islamabad Art Gallery on Saturday.
President Dr Arif Alvi looks at the works of Amjad Afridi displayed at Islamabad Art Gallery on Saturday.

ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi and Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah were among the guests at a rare exhibition held to display the creative works by a person missing for around eight years.

The other notables included Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, Justice Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan and Justice Arbab Mohammad Tahir.

Amjad Shah Afridi, who mysteriously went missing in 2014, was an upright civil servant, and was working as Wafaqi Mohtasib director general when he was picked up from Chach Interchange while going to his hometown Jamrud in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. His whereabouts have still not been traced.

Amna Masood Janjua, Defence of Human Rights chairperson, a non-governmental organisation for missing persons, was also among the participants.

Afridi passed out in 14th Common Training Programme in 1986-87 and his first posting was as assistant commissioner Sialkot in 1988-89.

His creative work was displayed in an exhibition organised by the Islamabad Art Gallery at Fatima Jinnah Park, commonly known as F-9 Park.

President Dr Arif Alvi and first lady Samina Alvi also visited the gallery to view the artwork and were briefed about the paintings and photography of Mr Afridi.

Earlier, Justice Athar Minallah, in his brief address, said Amjad Afridi was not a stereotypical ‘mandarin’ that would come to mind when the term ‘civil servant’ was mentioned.

He was direct, outspoken, tech-savvy and a man of exemplary professional and financial integrity, Justice Minallah said, adding that it seemed he never cared much for ‘tactfulness’, a trait valued by the bureaucracy in any country.

Amjad Afridi spoke aloud about what was true, whether it offended those above him or earned him the perception of being ‘dangerous’.

He was clearly a member of a very limited minority. Beneath the outward rough edges, dwelt a man who was soft at heart and sensitive to the beauty of the world around him, the IHC chief justice said, adding that as was common with men of intelligence, Amjad Afridi pursued a hobby that took him away from the cold and bland pages of official correspondence.

He said Afridi was an avid painter and photographer.

“We now have the privilege to see an aspect of the life of Amjad Afridi that was hidden from public view. His paintings and photographs are being exhibited at Islamabad Art Gallery F.9 Park We continue to pray for his well-being and hope for his return to his family, to his friends and to his beloved village,” Justice Minallah said.

Chief curator and Islamabad Art Gallery member Jamal Shah said Afridi was born with this undying urge to communicate his clarity andaesthetic preferences in the form of humanised images and objects.

Hailing from the peripheral land of Noble Savages, he was a self-taught painter and photographer blessed with considerable skill, diversified interest, intimately informed about his socio-cultural milieu and somewhat in command of his paradoxical choices as civil servant and image maker, he said.

The work on display includes his photographs, pastel drawings, water colours and oil paintings which reflect the sincerity and focus of an artist who is not interested in playing to the gallery but is more interested in filling the void within himself or bridging the abyss dichotomies, Mr Shah said.

Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2022

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