Hameed Akhtar was born in a village near Ludhiana in 1924. His family descended from the Sufi saint Khwaja Qutubuddin Bakhtiari of Ajmer and he became Hafiz-e-Quran at the age of 10. He ran into future literary figures Sahir
Hameed Akhtar was born in a village near Ludhiana in 1924. His family descended from the Sufi saint Khwaja Qutubuddin Bakhtiari of Ajmer and he became Hafiz-e-Quran at the age of 10. He ran into future literary figures Sahir Ludhianvi and Ibn-e-Insha at school and his company in Ludhiana included Anwar Ali, the famous newspaper cartoonist.
Hameed Akhtar came under a variety of influences that shaped his course in life. He chose to express himself in short stories, but was too occupied in journalistic and political pursuits to be writing fiction as frequently as some others. He worked as a scriptwriter in Bombay for some time and also tried his hand at film production after partition in Pakistan.
The film Sukh ka Sapna was a culmination of his desire to communicate his ideas of change through the popular medium of film. But it was journalism and his association with progressive leftist movements that won him more recognition and respect.
He joined Daily Imroz in 1948 and went on to edit the paper, originally a Progressive Papers Limited (PPL) venture which was taken over by the President Ayub Khan government in the late 1950s. In 1970, he co-founded the daily Azad along with Abdullah Malik and I.A. Rehman.
Hameed Akhtar was a respected columnist and wrote for many newspapers including Daily Express. His views on politics and social issues were greatly respected. He frequently ventured down memory lane for the benefit of his readers.
Hameed Akhtar was always concerned for a just and equitable society based on a fair distribution of wealth and resources. He even felt that the ideology of massawat (egalitarianism) can solve our problems from the exploitative capitalist system rooted deeply in our society.
Drawn to communist ideals from an early age, Hameed Akhtar quickly matured into a trusted lieutenant of the Communist Party in India. He was secretary of the Bombay chapter of the Progressive Writers Association as early as 1946-47 and it is a measure of his lifelong commitment to his ideals that he was unanimously elected the secretary-general when the Progressive Writers Association was revived in Pakistan.
Hameed Akhtar’s association with left-wing politics repeatedly landed him into trouble with the authorities. He was jailed many times and his book Kaal Kothri was a memento of his time in jail.
In 1988, he published Ahwaal-e-Dostan, a collection of pen sketches of some famous people he was closely associated with. He was eminently qualified for the job, having rubbed shoulders with personalities such as Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Sajjad Zaheer, Hafeez Jalandhari, Ismat Chughtai, Sahir Ludhianvi, Patras Bokhari, Saadat Hassan Manto, Ali Sardar Jafri, Kaifi Azmi, Krishan Chandar and Jan Nisar Akhtar.
Hameed Akhtar, an enlightened person who had many dimensions to him, found it obligatory to pass on all those bitter and sweet memories of the very difficult times he had gone through to the next generation through his pen. He was an exceptional journalist, a good short story writer and a filmmaker.
According to his daughter Saba Hameed, the well-known actor, Hameed Akhtar had a long battle with cancer. He was taken to the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital, Lahore, where on 18th October 2011, Veteran journalist, writer and secretary-general of the Progressive Writers Association Hameed Akhtar passed away. He was 87.
He was a lively soul, who worked relentlessly for progressive causes and whose contributions are of great value. He leaves behind his wife, four daughters and a son.