he Karachi Pashtun literary circle has made significant contributions to the promotion of Pashtun literature over the past three decades. Riaz Tasnim was one of the people who provided Pashto with considerable work.
Tasnim died in a hospital in Karachi on December 4, 2017, from complications related to hepatitis C.
Born in 1969 in the village of Swato in Charsadda, Tasnim completed his intermediate studies at Islamia College in Peshawar. In the early 90s he moved to Karachi, where he lived until the end.
Shortly after graduation, he joined the police department. He also taught as a teacher in a private school.
The fertile literary landscape of Karachi allowed him to create beautiful poetry. Tasnim introduced a unique genre in Pashto ghazal, which is widely welcomed. Many Pashtun poets have since adopted the style.
Tasnim opted for a familiar style in his poetry, which is quite interesting. Sometimes when speaking of the Divine and its connection with the Exalted, he uses terms like pir, murshid, majzoob and malang.
In several of his ghazals, Tasnim has words like parizade, sabarob and sangay when he addresses his beloved to express inner pain.
One can easily conclude that he was born a poet. His approach is inspiring and his sensitivity appeals to readers.
Prior to his departure for Karachi, he had been deputy editor of a Pashtun daily, Wuhdat in Peshawar. In Karachi, he became a regular contributor to the monthly Jarasa well-read Pashto newspaper printed from Karachi for over 13 years.
Besides having a distinctive poetic style, he was a distinguished critic. The absence of critical writings in Pashto deeply worries Tasnim. His published poetry collections are Da Kum Rang May Kasheed Karhay (What Colors I Painted), Chandarh (sandalwood), and Za Ka Da Waray Oda Shwam (If I went to sleep this time).
Pashtun literature suffered irreparable loss by Tasnim’s untimely departure. He remains alive in the memories of his followers and colleagues.
In one of his Pashto literary journals entitled “A Great Poet of a Vulgar Era”, the eminent writer Sabir Shinwari writes: “Riaz Tasnim was the only poet of his time who taught us how love is offered in a book ? His profound approach and his foresight set him apart from his contemporaries. His poetry is a continuous dialogue with closed doors and half-collapsed walls. As a cultured poet of an uncivilized age, Tasnim has done enough for the redecoration and improvement of our times. He made the norm his source of expression and also his goal. Tasnim responds to the need for a strong and creative culture beyond the Pashtun civilization.“
A staunch follower of Khushal Khan Khattak and Qalandar Momand, Tasnim believed in both humanism and Pakhtun nationalism. Paying a rich tribute to him on the eve of his first death anniversary, the great Pashtun poet and scholar Saleem Raz said: “Riaz Tasnim had a serious mind. He was an avant-garde. His extraordinary work strongly distinguished him from his fellow poets and writers.
I first met him in Karachi in 2010 when he arranged a Pashto Mushaira at the Bacha Khan Markaz in Benares. Although diabetes had taken a toll on her health, Tasnim’s eyes were full of hope.
by Tasnim ghazals influenced a large number of people on both sides of the Durand line.
Che kalai chup v no rasai da dar khabary kwi
No dasi wakht ki lewani da kar khbray kwi
Son zai au son chata mo khpla muda’a byan kra
Os di pa mozh pasey da warha shar khabary kwi[When all the people keep tight-lipped and only the gallows speak
The lunatics tell the truth
We put our aim before everyone and everywhere,
Now all the people may comment behind our back]
He wrote a literary report, titled Bed No 28, during his hospital days, telling the story of his sick days.
Tasnim has also published a volume of selected poetry by Khushal Khan Khattak (Muntakhibat Khushal Khan Khattak).
Pashtun literature suffered an irreparable loss with Tasnim’s untimely departure. He lives on in the memory of his followers and in his work.
The writer is a columnist and lecturer at Zhob Government University. He can be reached at hussainhunarmal @gmail.com