Renowned Baloch poet and author Akbar Barakzai has refused an academic award from Pakistan for the best work in Baloch literature citing the Imran Khan government’s policies ‘inflicted’ on Balochistan that have ‘subjugated’ the populace.
Barakzai’s book ‘Zaban Zanti-u-Balochi Zaban Zanti’ had been nominated for the Syed Zahoor Shah Hashmi Award by the Pakistani Academy of Letters (PAL).
Upon hearing about the nominations, he rebuffed the academic award and the accompanying 200,000 rupees cash prize through an email sent to the Chairman of the PAL, Dr Yousuf Khushk.
In his email, Barakzai thanked the PAL for the nomination but said that he cannot accept this award. When asked about his decision, he cited the policies ‘inflicted’ on Balochistan to ‘subjugate’ its populace.
Akbar Barakzai hails from Lyari, Karachi. In the 1970s, he was an active advocate for leftist politics. In the same decade, he permanently moved to London, United Kingdom. Currently, he is 80-years old but is still rendering meritorious serviced in the Baloch literature.
In the past, other Baloch writers have also refused and returned literary awards. Professor Nadir Qambrani had refused an academic award due to a disagreement with the then Musharraf regime. Saba Dashtyari, a venerated Baloch writer, poet, scholar and a professor in the University of Balochistan, also returned his academic award in protest but donated his prize money to the Syed Hashmi Reference Library in Karachi.