Working class hero: Layaq Zada Layaq given Presidential Pride of Performance

Layaq Zada Layaq
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With his message of equality, the writings and ghazals of Layaq Zada Layaq are never far from the lips of the common man. The renowned Pashto poet and writer received the recognition he richly deserved when he was awarded the Presidential Pride of Performance this Pakistan Day for his contribution to Pukhtun literature.

Layaq has written dozens of books on poetry, fiction and prose, which have been performed by renowned singers of the province.

Early years

Born in Madyan, Swat on January 15, 1959, Layaq studied Urdu and Pukhtun literature at the University of Peshawar.

His first book was published in 1975 and his second book, Gilay (Complaint) in 1979. He has authored some 32 books on prose, poetry, research, fiction, and travelogues. Three of his newer publications will be in the market soon.

Layaq told The Express Tribune he recently published a collection of fiction writing called Bailaly Dao (The lost bet) which comprises 120 stories. “This is the first work of Pashto literature which combines such a large collection of fiction,” said Layaq. Mata aina (Broken mirror), his other collection of fiction, has also been translated into English.

However, he considers his greatest achievement his research on the Pashto singers of the early 20th century. The research was published under the title Fankar na mri (The artist never dies) and it has been translated into Urdu with the title Fan se Fankar tak.

In addition to the Presidential Pride of Performance, the writer has won 35 awards for literature from different Pakistani organisations.

Broken mirrors, idyllic reflections

In poetry and other work, the writer presents an idealized version of society, free from repression. His works give solace to people suffering from war, economic woes and uncertain situations. However, the book market is extremely sluggish in K-P and people seldom purchase printed works. That is when singers lend voice to his work and take it to the ears of the public.

“I have lived through the horror of the most difficult times in our history,’ said Layeq. “To strive towards reviving our rich culture and traditions should become our responsibility,” said Layaq. He added artists are living in trying circumstances and should be supported and lifted out to reach new heights.

Layaq is among the poets who raised his voice against the divide between the upper and lower classes. Through his poems and ghazals, he has urged increased uniformity and balance in society.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 26th, 2015.