Islamabad - Friends, fans and colleagues of renowned writer Agha Saleem paid rich tributes to him yesterday for spending all of his life on working on many diverse genres of literature.

Agha Saleem, who died on 12th April at the age of 81 in Karachi after a protracted illness, was known for not only trend setting novels in Sindhi but also introducing to the world the works of great Sufi poet Shah Abdul Lateef Bhitai by translating them in English and Urdu.

A condolence reference in memory of Agha Saleem was arranged by Indus Cultural Forum in collaboration with Lok Virsa here on Saturday.

Speaking on the occasion, Chairman Pakistan Academy of Letters Dr Qasim Bughio said that Agha Saleem contributed too much and too well to literature, culture and fiction of Pakistan. His novels were written in an innovative diction and became trend setters in Sindhi literature. “Many of his works are made part of curriculum in the universities of Sindh,” he said. Dr Bughio said that Agha Saleem possessed all the qualities of a great and legendary man.

Former colleagues of Agha Saleem, Syed Abid Rizvi and Khursheed Malik narrated the memories of working with him in Radio Pakistan Multan and Quetta stations. They appreciated how he mentored his junior colleagues and gave them confidence to become highly acclaimed broadcasters.

Naseer Memon in his remarks said Agha Saleem made larger than life contributions to the field of literature from fiction to demystifying Sufism and poetry of great classical poets like Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, Khwaja Farid, Sachal Sarmast, Sami and others. “All his works are stand alone master pieces of literature whether in fiction or research or translations,” he said.

Manzoor Veesrio, a lecturer of Pakistan Studies at Qauid-i-Azam University said Agha Saleem effectively communicated the message of Sufi poets to the world by translating them into English and Urdu. He spent all his life writing and researching to be able to make stronger contributions to world of literature. “He was a truly multidimensional personality who till his last breath continued to finish many of his unfinished works,” he said. Veesrio said Agha Saleem also conducted groundbreaking research on origins of Sindhi poetry and music.

Zubeda Birwani, a social and cultural activist, in her remarks said that Agha Saleem was a humble and decent soul who always showed kindness to younger generation and mentored them through the field of literature, Sufism and music.

Narrating the life sketch of the legend, Munwar Memon said, “Agha Khalid Saleem - commonly known with his pen name as Agha Saleem - was a renowned writer, novelist, poet and intellectual of Sindhi language.” He said Agha Saleem was deeply inspired by the political movement against One-Unit and participated very actively through his writings to contribute to pro-democracy movement for mass mobilisation.

Nusrat Zehra in her remarks said that Agha started writing from very young age and his first literary work of short stories was published in 1958. His famous novels include ‘Oondahi Dharti, Roshan Hath’ and ‘Hamma Oast’. He was known as an authority on Shah Abdul Lateef Bhitai’s poetry. He got Shah Latif Award twice and Pride of Performance in 2005.