Declared ‘a living legend’;
His contribution affirmed ‘asset for the nation’
Progressive nations and societies respect and celebrate their heroes when they are alive. Ahmad Salim who is recipient of Presidential Pride of Performance Award by Government of Pakistan and Bangladesh’s highest civil award, Bangladesh Freedom Award, is a living legend and his services and contributions will be remembered and cherished for times to come, speakers said it during a ceremony and book exhibition entitled ‘A tribute to Ahmad Salim: celebration of fifty years of writing’ organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Thursday. Dr. Suleri said SDPI is known because of Ahmad Salim and he has been admirer of him since long as a reader of his books as well as a colleague at SDPI.
Shafqat Kakakhel, former ambassador and advisor at SDPI, recalled his school days’ memories with Ahmad Salim in Peshawar. Giving a detailed interesting account, he said he was witness of Ahmad Salim’s evolution of thought and intellect process as even during school days he used to write in numerous literary magazines and newspapers such as Anjam and Bang-e-Haram. “Salim has a masterly command over intellectual, economic, social, political, historical and literary subjects and he is not an individual but an institution who has produced over 200 hundred books’ he went on saying. He said Salim’s work is not only historic and literary but also full of courage and bravery. He is a rebellion who has paid price for his rebellious intellectual work in the form of imprisonment, lashing, scarifies, and hardships but he has led a life full of courage and dignity. “We are proud to be his colleagues and friends’ he remarked.
Talking of his archival contributions, Dr. Tariq Rahman of Quaid-I-Azam University, described him as a person with complete dedication to research and publications. Terming him as ‘liberal humanist’ and his work ‘extremely rare’ in literature, sustainable development, women and human rights, rights of oppressed, and history, he said Salim has worked not only with passion and dedication but with physical and moral courage who stood against oppression and opposed military operations in East Pakistan and Balochistan. He felicitated him for his extensive and one of the largest archives in Pakistan, build over a period of 50 years with collection of rare books from all around the world. “Building and maintaining archive is a very difficult task that requires skills, time, resources, and passion for books. This was all done by him single-handedly and now it is a national treasure that needs to be preserved for the benefit of coming generations’ he added.
Zafrullah Khan of Centre for Civic Education said Ahmad Salim’s most important contribution is his work especially for those deemed intellectual minority. He thanked him for all his guidance, kindness and education as a mentor during last 26 years and acknowledged him as one of the courageous persons who collected, compiled and conveyed hidden facts and peoples’ narratives in a simple and convincing manner. He termed his large archive as a ‘blessing’ and urged the need of its perseverance in an environment where facts and history are prone to be distorted, manipulated and deformed.
Mahfuzur Rahman, Deputy High Commissioner of Bangladesh in Pakistan said that Ahmad Salim’s writings introduced people of Pakistan who supported and voiced for Bengali people in 1971. He thanked him for his writings and expressed that in recognitions of his commendable work, Bangladesh government has conferred upon him the highest civil award in 2011.
Humaira Ishfaq of International Islamic University said that Ahmad Salim’s work has several dimensions and each dimension is perfect in its entirety. She said that Mr Salim worked in almost all languages of Pakistan considering regional languages as national languages and his concept of nationality goes beyond all ethnic stereotypes and speaks of eternal love, compassion and humanity.
Dr. Saba Gul Khattak, former ED of SDPI and member Planning Commission of Pakistansaid that SDPI and Pakistan are lucky to have such a intellectually diverse and rich person. Dr. Suleri read tribute and written messages of Dr. Kaiser Bengali, Dr Saeed Shafqat, Khawar Mumtaz, Etrat Rizvi and Nasreen Azhar who could not attend the ceremony. Some present colleagues of SDPI such as Foqia Khan, Nasir Khan, Afsheen Naz, Hamid Pirzada and others also paid tribute to Mr. Salim and shared interesting memories of working with him. Ahmad Salim thanked SDPI, speakers and all participants for honoring him in such a historic manner while Dr. Suleri presented shield to him on behalf of SDPI staff while Murtaza Solangi, Director General, Radio Pakistan presented Sindhi shawl to him.
Giving his concluding remarks, Dr. Mahmood A Khwaja of SDPI, recalled a detailed account of his association with Mr Salim. He said Mr Salim is a hard working person who has laboured days and nights to produce such a quality and diverse intellectual work for SDPI and the country. ‘Ahmad Salim is not only an intellectual and writer but a man of words and tribute to such a living asset is an honour for him’ maintained Dr. Khwaja.