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Adeel Khan: Demise of a Humanist


BABAR AYAZ: Dr. Liaquat Adeel Khan, a former assistant editor of Dawn, passed away recently in Istanbul where he was holidaying. He was a journalist-turned-academician.

He left Dawn to move to Australia in mid-1993 with a view to pursuing higher education and a scholarly academic career. He completed a two years’ masters by research degree from University of Canberra in 1996 with a highly commended thesis titled “The politics of Islam in a post-colonial state: Pakistan”. This led to an offer of a fully-funded PhD scholarship from three different Australian universities and he chose to undertake his PhD with Prof Stephen Castles at the University of Wollongong. He later undertook further research and published a book “Politics of Identity: Ethnic Nationalism and the State in Pakistan” in 2005. The book got excellent reviews. Dipesh Chakrabarty of Chicago University labelled it as ‘a provocative, passionate and stimulating new interpretation of ethnic nationalism’.

People who hate hypocrisy are often abrupt. He was one such person even in is death. He was an honest and candid man who would be your sincere friend if he liked you, and if he didn’t he would tell you so.

His secular humanist views made him a very sensitive person who would get upset over what has been happening in his motherland.

I met him at Dawn in the early 80s which he joined after working with the Muslim for some time. Though he was much younger to me I liked his interest in reading literature and philosophy, a quality which is seldom found among the working journalists. He worked under the able guidance of our Editor Ahmed Ali Khan who he admired a lot, and would not stop talking about him when we last met in Sydney in October 2015. In between he also did a short stint with the Frontier Post.

He taught at the University of New England in Australia from 2001-2014 and recently moved back to Canberra. Adeel was a consummate reader of books on philosophy, world history and literature and had a large collection of books, some of which had travelled more airline miles than he had — as did a framed copy of a portrait of Mozart by Andy Warhol which always got the choicest spot in the house.  He had a vast collection of western classical music, old Indian songs and foreign films and often interspersed his conversation with quotes from Foucault to one-liners from Woody Allen to a couplet from Ghalib. That was a long way on cultural sophistication road for Adeel — a boy who was born in Mardan in 1958.

Sadly he died unexpectedly while holidaying in Istanbul, leaving his wife Rafat, many friends, colleagues and family shattered by his sudden departure. His latest interest prior to his untimely death was learning French, which he loved to practise on others — so as he would have liked to have said  — “au revoir” — till we see [meet] again — perhaps on another galaxy, goodbye!!.


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