Dr Wazir Agha, a celebrated figure of Urdu literature, was laid to rest in his native village near Sargodha on Wednesday. He had passed away in a Lahore hospital on Tuesday at the age of 88.
Saleem Agha, Dr Agha’s son, told Dawn by telephone that his father was unwell for the last six years. He had recently developed some complications and was admitted to National Hospital some five days before his death.
A large number of people, among them literary figures, attended Dr Agha’s funeral on Wednesday. His qul will be held on Sept 12 in his native village, Wazir Kot.
Wazir Agha was born on May 18, 1922, in Wazir Kot, which was named after his grandfather, Agha Wazir Ali Khan. He did Masters in Economics from the Government College, Lahore, and then his Phd from the Punjab University. The topic of his doctorate thesis was humour and satire in Urdu literature.
He was an accomplished critic and a poet and essayist and ran ‘Auraq’, a highly-regarded literary magazine, for many decades. He is credited with introducing many theories in Urdu literature, but was most famous for his work on Urdu humour. He also wrote a seminal book on modern Urdu poets more inclined towards expressing themselves in the nazm format as opposed to ghazal. His famous books include ‘Dastak us Darwazay Per’, ‘Ghas Per Titlian’, ‘Urdu Shaeri Ka Mizaj’, ‘Ghalib Say Iqbal Tak’, ‘Sham ki Mundair Say’ and ‘Lakirain Aur Dairey’.
Wazir Agha started writing poetry in his student days, when he came under the influence of the ideas of the founders of modern nazm in Pakistan such as Miraji, Muhammad Din Taseer and Noon Meem Rashid.
He used European styles, such as ballads, sonnets, in his work. He also experimented with rhymes and meters. From 1960 to 1963, he edited the literary journal ‘Adabi Duniya’.
Dr Wazir Agha was also well known for his long–running battle with Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi. Talking to Dawn, poet and writer Kanwal Feroz describes the tension between the two literary figures as basically a clash between Qasmi Sahib on the left and Agha Sahib on the right of the ideological divide. This war of ideologies was fuelled by the followers of the two literary figures. Mr Feroz rated Dr Agha highly as a critic and a trend-setter among essayists and nazm poets.
Poet and playwright Amjad Islam Amjad, who was considered to be very close to Qasmi Sahib, told this paper on Wednesday that Dr Wazir Agha left a great impact on Urdu literature, mainly in his role as a critic. The same sentiments were echoed by master short story writer Intezar Husain and Hameed Akhtar who is currently the secretary-general of Progressive Writers Association. Both Mr Husain and Mr Akhtar acknowledged Dr Agha as a great critic.
Close friend and ideological soul-mate Dr Anwar Sadeed said that Dr Agha was a towering critic, poet and essayist of modern Urdu. Mr Sadeed said that through his literary publication ‘Auraq’ Dr Agha introduced a large number of new writers. He said that Agha Sahib had written some 19 books on modern poems. “The vacuum created by his departure will be difficult to fill,” Mr Sadeed said and his statement was endorsed by poet and editor ‘Takhleeq’, Azhar Javed.
Dr Rasheed Amjad, a short story writer and educationist, applauded Agha Sahib for training a whole generation while poet and writer Khalid Iqbal remembered him not just as an individual but as a movement.Dawn