Pakistani poet, human-rights activist and feminist, Fahmida Riaz, has passed away at the age of 72.
Pakistan‘s newspapers and websites on Wednesday reported Riaz’s passing away following a prolonged illness in the city of Lahore.
Riaz, a formidable figure of Pakistani literature, authored over a dozen books on poetry and fiction, and ran a publishing company.
She translated the writings of Albanian writer Ismail Kadare and the Sufi poetry of Rumi into Urdu. Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper called her a “pioneer in feminist literature”.
Heartbreaking news about the death of Fahmida Riaz. What a transformative force she was, in her poetry and her life. One of the brightest of lights in the dark days of Zia-ul-Haq, and beyond. #fahmidariaz
— Kamila Shamsie (@kamilashamsie) November 21, 2018
“The themes prevalent in her verse were, until then, were considered taboo for women writers,” said the Dawn.
When ‘Badan Dareeda’, her second collection of verse, appeared, she was accused of using erotic and sensual expressions in her poetry.
Sad to lose another very lovely Khala the dynamic @fahmidaRiaz she was brave, daring and a great person – rest in peace Khala you will be missed in a land where people can no longer disagree and still live
— Ayesha Siddiqa (@iamthedrifter) November 21, 2018
She was also forced to live in exile for over six years in India when former military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq ruled over Pakistan.
Riaz faced various challenges due to her political writings. “More than 10 cases were filed against her during Ziaul Haq’s dictatorship,” reported The News.
Renowned Pakistani Poet Fahmida Riaz passes away in Lahore. She had fled General Zia-ul Haq's tyranny, sought refuge & spent 7 years in exile in India. Her warning to Indians on religious fundamentalists remains and will keep ringing forever.https://t.co/6Qd09X7OG2 pic.twitter.com/4ZOmT513s3
— Vijoo Krishnan (@VijooKrishnan) November 21, 2018
Senior journalist Raza Rumi called her the “finest of our poets, writer, translator, activist” on Twitter.
Noted Pakistani author Ayesha Siddiqa, said: “Sad to lose another very lovely Khala the dynamic @fahmidaRiaz she was brave, daring and a great person – rest in peace Khala you will be missed in a land where people can no longer disagree and still live.”
She spent almost seven years in exile during Zia rule. During her India stay, Riaz was a poet in residence for Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi – my alma mater #FahmidaRiaz https://t.co/IkdH5Zemcm
— Saif Khalid (@msaifkhalid) November 21, 2018