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Historian K.K. Aziz dead

July 16, 2009

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LAHORE, July 15 Renowned historian K.K. Aziz passed away in a Lahore hospital on Wednesday at the age of 81.

Khurshid Kamal Aziz was an outstanding historian and a prolific writer. He authored a large number of books that opened up angles on history and culture sought to be concealed by official chroniclers. Quite aptly, one of his famous works is titled 'The Murder of History'.

K.K. Aziz's was an expansive canvas and while he has to his credit books such as 'History of the Partition of India', 'The Meaning of Islamic Art An annotated bibliography' and 'Public Life in Muslim India 1850-1947', he also came up with volumes on some important individuals who helped shape history in the subcontinent at critical junctures - among them Sir Agha Khan III and Chaudhry Rehmat Ali.

'The Coffee House of Lahore - A memoir 1942-57' is his gift to the city which had helped him determine his own place in history.

His autobiography is titled 'The Pakistani Historian'.

He is mainly known for his English writings but he was equally at ease with Urdu prose and a staunch believer in the power of Persian to enlighten a seeker of knowledge.

In his Urdu work 'Woh Hawadis Aashna,' he focusses on his father and his family's history.

Son of Barrister Abdul Aziz, a well-known historian in his own right who added to his fame by initiating pioneering work on Heer Waris Shah, K.K. Aziz was born in the village of Ballamabad near Lyallpur (now Faisalabad) on December 11, 1927. He studied at the Government College, Lahore, where his teachers included Ahmed Shah Bukhari Patras and Prof Sirajuddin.

He went on to teach at Cambridge, Oxford, Manchester, Toronto, Khartoum and Heidelberg. His research enriched by the exposure abroad, he would return to his country to work on extremely difficult themes that brought out the best in him - and quite often the worst in self-employed minders of Pakistan's ideology.

In 1978, he was working as the head of the National Commission of Historical and Cultural Research in Islamabad when he was forced to leave Pakistan by the Ziaul Haq regime that was anathema to independent scholarship.

This was followed by teaching assignments in England, Germany and Sudan before he finally settled in Lahore some years ago, writing profusely and frequently undertaking foreign tours.

His wife Zarina Aziz told Dawn that he had been ill for almost five years, but still worked for 10 hours a day. He was hospitalised on May 11 and discharged on June 13. He was again admitted to hospital on Tuesday, where he passed away on Wednesday.

Mrs Aziz says that her husband had written 50 books and used to say that his books were his children and would keep his name alive.

His books include 'The Making of Pakistan A Study in Nationalism,' 'Studies in History and Politics,' 'Party Politics in Pakistan 1947-1958,' 'Britain and Pakistan,' 'Britain and Muslim India,' 'Muslims under Congress Rule 1937-1939 A documentary record,' 'British Imperialism in India' and 'The All India Muslim Conference 1928-1935 A documentary record'.