Amjad Islam Amjad: The 'Paasban' After The Army Public School Tragedy

Amjad Islam Amjad: The 'Paasban' After The Army Public School Tragedy
Poet, playwright, educationist, and columnist Amjad Islam Amjad passed away on 10th February 2023 in Lahore. He was 78. The news comes as a shock to his friends and fans as he was generally in good health and was one of the speakers at the Pakistan Literary Festival which starts on Friday afternoon in Lahore.

Born as Amjad Islam on 9th August 1944 in Lahore, after completing his MA Urdu from Punjab University, he was appointed as a professor in the MAO College where he served till 1975. Later on he also served at Pakistan Television Corporation, Punjab Arts Council, Urdu Science Board and Children Library Complex in various capacities.

He penned down some of the most popular plays in country`s history including Waris, Samandur, Dehleez, Din, Raat, Waqt, Fishaar and Inkaar.  He was author of more than 70 books with being subject of another 10. In short, a true global recognized modern-day legend of Urdu language. He was bestowed upon the The Pride of Performance, Tamgh-e-Imtiaz and Sitara-e-Imtiaz among a long list of many national and international awards.

Although he was known as a legendary Urdu poet, drama writer, and lyricist but not many know that he was also author of the “Paasban – The Guardian” graphic novel series. It was one of its first kind project launched in 2015 right after the unforgettable tragedy of the Army Public School. The aim was to promote the counter terrorism narrative targeting the youth of the country. I was the Project Manager at the company CFx Comics back then.

Our team met with him and briefed him with the idea we had and requested him to write the story for us. His involvement was not only an honour for us but a great opportunity for us to see the maestro at work. The series was a huge success with over 200 outlets reporting about it in 40 countries. It was an amazing experience where I personally got to learn a lot from him. He was the absolute authority when it came to dialogues and script but graphic novels are more of a visual medium so we kept on requesting him to cut short dialogues. The best thing was that he was always very receptive of new ideas and mediums. He wanted to keep up with the new times. He wanted to connect with the next generation. He didn’t resist or hide behind any excuses and was always ready to take up new challenge.

During the process of script writing, he always listened to our requests and actually let us (read me) remove/edit some of his lines. I never expected that. I was a nobody and here he is listening to my (at times immature) suggestions but that`s how he was. He believed in learning being a two-way street. Later on, I also got to work with a few stories about children that never materialized but I was lucky to learn the basics of story writing. Visiting his house was something I always looked forward to.

He was on my list of guests for “Sukhan”, my podcast series, for a long time but every time something came up and it kept on getting postponed. Now I have to live with the regret that it didn't happen but I am glad that he leaves behind a rich legacy from Waaris to his beautiful poetry which would never be forgotten. I would always remember your kindness and progressive nature Amjad sb. I will miss reading your columns and travelogues. Thank you for educating, informing, and entertaining us.

Rest in power, sir.