Pakistan’s ‘Wandering Falcon’ author dies

Jamil Ahmad
Jamil Ahmad

Jamil Ahmad

ISLAMABAD: Jamil Ahmad, the author of an acclaimed collection of short stories about life in Pakistan’s tribal badlands, has died after a long illness, his family said on Monday. Ahmad, a career civil servant, found fame as a writer late in life with “The Wandering Falcon,” which drew heavily on his experiences as an administrator in Pakistan’s desolate border areas with Afghanistan and Iran.

The book, shortlisted for Asia’s top English-language literary prize in 2011, captures the raw romance — and brutality — of Pakistan’s wildest terrain in the years before the rise of the Taleban.

Ahmad died at his home in Islamabad, aged 83, his son Taimur Aziz told AFP.

“He was not well and was bedridden for the past three months and had become very weak. He had a heart attack on Saturday and passed away,” Aziz said.

Seduced by tales of “cowboys and Indians” as a schoolboy, Ahmad quickly developed a lifelong passion for the way of life in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Baluchistan and the tribal areas along the Afghan border in the northwest.

In an interview with AFP in 2011, Ahmad said he saw tribes as the earliest building blocks of humanity.

“There’s a tribal gene somewhere embedded in each one of us,” he said.

Ahmad joined the civil service in 1954 and later became commissioner of Swat, a northwestern district where Pakistani forces in 2009 led a major operation against a Taleban insurgency. He later held the same post in Waziristan, today the scene of a major army offensive against the Taleban and other militants.

 
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