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Sunday, February 15, 2009

I A Rahman in first person singular on Khalid Hasan

The life-long discipline to avoid the use of first person singular has to be suspended because it is not possible for me to render to Khalid Hasan his due in any other way.

Within a few months of his joining the PT, Khalid Hasan introduced me to Mr Bhutto at Malik Aslam Hayat's house, a few days after the PPP had been founded. He knew ZAB well but had not yet decided to throw his lot with him. He had developed friendly relations with a number of politicians and men of letters and knew the art of building associations through sparkling conversation and well-organised correspondence. His reputation as a raconteur par excellence spread and his company was sought at evening gatherings of the affluent class.

I do not remember whether Skipper Kardar introduced him to Hamid Jalal or Hamid Jalal brought him and Kardar together but, with both, Khalid Hasan developed strong bonds of friendship. He had known Faiz Sahib from his childhood days but it was probably from Hamid Jalal that he acquired his interest in probing Manto's literary masterpieces and translating him into English. He would win many laurels on this journey.

Yahya Khan was among the early admirers of his talents and chose him for a peculiar assignment – to visit the important capitals of the world, find out what they thought of Yahya and Pakistan, and suggest measures for improving their image. He realised he had some money that needed to be burnt. He and I succeeded in doing that in no time, hopping from one cellar to another and finding out where evening meals could be had in pre-dawn hours.

Khalid Hasan's literary works are yet to receive their due. Beginning with a translation of Raja Anwar's story, he offered some brilliant translations of Manto into English, persuaded Zia Sarhady to leave a fragment of his lifestory, retrieved Faiz's script for a film on the dancing girl of Moenjo Daro, translated Inam Aziz's memoirs and rendered some of Faiz's poems into English. Considering that he never missed a chance for an evening binge and never ignored the calls of friends the amount of writing he did offers a measure of his talent, his command over both English and Urdu languages and his felicity of expression.


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