Dr Adam Nayyar passes away

July 30, 2008


ISLAMABAD, July 29: Dr Adam Nayyar, Executive Director of Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) and a respected name in the world of culture, passed away here on Tuesday.

He was 59 and had served PNCA for three years.

Dr Nayyar was valued as an authority on Pakistani music, especially Sufi and folk music, and culture. His areas of interests and experience were ethnographic investigations, teaching and training, music and Silk Route music.

His interests as an ethnomusicologist took him to Tajikistan, Turkmenistan in Central Asia, Senegal, Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa, and USA and France.

His doctoral dissertation, published in 1986 from Heidelberg University, dealt with micro-level world views in a society undergoing change.

Besides being the Executive Director of the PNCA, he was a member of the adjunct faculty of the Departments of Anthropology and Pakistan Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. He also worked for the Lok Virsa (Folk Heritage) as Director Research for over two decades.

Recently the French government bestowed its prestigious `Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres’ (Knighthood of Arts and Letters) award upon him in recognition of his contributions to cultural life of the world.

Dr Nayyar was instrumental in putting Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan on the world map of music world. In 1991, working as a team anthropologist, he produce a film on the musical heritage of Pakistan titled Pardesi which won an “Honorable Mention Award” at the Cannes Film Festival.

Two other films — Religious and Sufi Music and The Music of Balochistan — that he produced with a French team also won silver medal at the Florence Film Festival.

Capital’s leterati, Secretary Culture Shahid Rafi, PNCA director-general Naeem Tahir, architect Naeem Pasha and other close friends attended Dr Nayyar’s funeral.

Naeem Tahir expressed sorrow over the demise of his colleague in a formal condolence message to his family.

Poet and playwright Sarmad Sehbai said that in Dr Nayyar’s death he lost a personal friend of 40 years and the world of culture a brilliant and insightful scholar.

“His ishq (love) with Punjab was admirable and his passion for culture and world music, specially qawwali, venerable,” he said.

Painter Ghulam Rasool, who had known Dr Nayyar since 1974, regretted that the country wasted a talent in Dr Nayyar. “He was so much more gifted than any of us knew. A fine researcher, a professional and a talented person he was,” he said.

Dr Nayyar’s two last books, A Treatise on Qawwali and Readings, Narrative and Unsaid in the Ghazal, were ready to go to print when he died. The books would further, what painter Ghulam Rasool called, his “cultural diplomacy”.