Poetry: A Brief Biography of Ahmad Riaz Ahmad of Gulmit, Hunza

April 20, 2022

By Fazal Amin Beg (based on an interview in 2014)

Ahmad Riaz Ahmad son of Sultan Ahmad was born in 1953 in Gulmit (Kamaris), the headquarters of Gojal magistracy, in Hunza. He has two daughters and a son. He belongs to the Oshur lineage group (popularly known among the community as Arbobon) of the Buduley clan of Upper Hunza.
Ahmad Riaz got his elementary education from the Diamond Jubilee School in Gulmit. His teachers were Abdullah Jan and Noor Dil of Baltit and Ibadat Shah of Gulmit. He acquired his middle level education (class 6-8) in Baltit (Central Hunza. His teaches were Sultan Ali Samarqand of the Mir’s family and Afiyat Khan and Sanaullah Baig of the families respectively. He spent three years in Central Hunza in the houses of Wazir (one year) Juno and Ali Sher (two years) in Baltit and Hyderbad respectively.
After qualifying his 8th class, his father took Ahmad Riaz to Gilgit for the purpose of getting secondary level education. He was admitted in the Government High School No. 1. He stayed in the Shah Karim Hostel as a boarder. He did his matriculation in 1974, the year when the former Hunza State was abolished. He then proceeded to Karachi in order to get his higher secondary level education. He opted to get employment and continue his education along side. he got admission in the Federal Boys College, Nazimabad and also engaged with employment. He did his F.A. in 1977 from the Board of Intermediate Education (Higher Secondary), Karachi. When got a permanent employment with Pakistan Steel Company, he had to focus more on his job. He however did his B.A. and M.A. as a private candidate. Ahmad Riaz also earned his LLB from the S.M. Law College, Karachi. Along with his job with Pakistan Steel Company for 26 years, he also did his apprenticeship as an advocate. He got a membership of Sind Bar Association.
After his retirement (Golden Hand Shake), Ahmad Riaz moved permenatly left Karachi for his own area (Gilgit-Baltisan). Currently, he is engaged with practice of law as an advocate, on the one hand; and also serves Pakistan Broadcasting Company (Radio Pakistan Gilgit in the Wakhi and other language Programs), on the other.

Coming towards his creativities and poetry, Ahmad Riaz thinks that he has inherited it from his family in a lineal order as for the last five generations (from Arbob Diwon Shoh), his family has been closely involved in knowledge pursuance.

In a more realistic manner, Ahmad Riaz states that when he was in Shah Karim ostel in Gilgit, one of his senior fellows, Nazir Sabir (an internationally renowned mountaineer) was a source of inspiration for his poetry. Nazir Sabir had composed an Urdu poem when he was passing out his matriculation and leaving Shah Karim Hostel, he presented that poem in the students fare well program. A stanza of his poem followed as under.
Raho tum khosh hamisha, tum bhi akhir jaaney waaley ho
Kabhi asha’r Sabir tum bhi gaaney waley ho
Ahmad Riaz thus thought there could be poetry to be framed in such order. “I got inspired from the poem of Nazir Sabir and attempted to create his own poetry. Ahmad Riaz framed his first Urdu poem and presented it in the weekly Students Literary Session called Bazm-e Adab. His teacher Dr. Aziz Ullah Najeeb and Fida Ali Asar lauded Ahmad Riaz enormously. A line of his first Urdu poem Ahmad Riaz still remembers that follow as under.
Kabhi hasil, kabhi qatil, kabhi faani ye dunya hey
Sometimes this world seems benefactor, sometimes assassinator and sometimes mortal.

Riaz Ahmad Riaz recalls his memories regarding the first ever visit of his Imam of the Time, His Highness, Prince Karim Aga Khan, to Hunza valley in 1960. The stimulating factor of Ahmad Riaz’s devotional poetry was the emotional scene of this great socio-spiritual event in his lifetime when he was only 7 years old and he brought those scenes in poetry when he grew up and became mature, he adds.
By using a Perso-Arabic transcription style of his own, the first poetry composition in the form of a booklet Ahmad Riaz developed in the 1990s entitled Biqararom Ti Haten (I am Restless for You). A copy of this booklet is also available in the library of Institute of Isma’ili Center (IIS), London. ,
His first ever Wakhi verses were devotional, composed in 1974, that follows as under.
Shoh Karim Hozir Imom, Biqarorem ti haten
Aql-e kul waxt-e Imom, biqarorem ti haten

Nũr-e shon, nũr-e nishon, ilmen tu dawlat-e kon
Pokiza ruh-e makon, biqarorem ti haten
Ahmad Riaz is a nature lover and. He mentions in his poetry more about the flowers and other aspets of nature. In addition, he is also fond of human-flowers as well. Ahmad Riaz terms himself as one of the extraordinary aesthetical persons. And this is also one of the factors for his poetry, especially regarding his lyrical poems.
Ahmad Riaz states that he has composed altogether more than 100 Wakhi poems on various themes including devotional, lyrical, laments, national and the like. He is of the opinion that there is no practical support for such kinds of literary work. He is satisfied of the literary activities the related communities are carrying out to serve their mother tongues.

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