When you google Musadiq Sanwal, the link of his archive at Dawn.com appears between Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook profiles. One of these pieces is anobituary of Hassan Dars, a Sindhi poet and his close friend, who died relatively young. There is nothing more relevant today than this obituary which Musadiq wrote for Hassan, just that another Hassan writes it for Musadiq.

After we had talked for almost six months, I first met him in person, when he came for our documentary film featuring Hazara. He had read my train travels and liked the one about Lala Musa so he brought something equally artistic … a Takhti, few Qalamsand a Roshnai bottle for my daughter. Since the kid studied a contemporary Oxford curriculum, which stressed a commercially common culture, the Takhti gracefully stepped down for the tab and I placed it in my steel trunk, along with other relics that I had gathered from Punjab.

Of the three days we spent in MurreeAbad, Quetta, I found why Sufis were absolved of the bindings and borders. Hailing from Multan, graduating from NCA and having spent a considerable time in the western world, Musadiq was more Hazara than the locals. His low-toned humility concealed his metropolitan exposure and gained the confidence of the bereaved victims. Back in MurreeAbad this noon, a few of the interviewees have called in disbelief as word reached them. They could only respond with a single word: ‘How?’

We continued to talk and the more we talked, the more I learnt. Musadiq was an artist, who truly valued the art in an age where presentation and packaging has superseded everything real. I learnt about his fame during one of my visits to the north of Pakistan. A non-resident couple was awe-struck with the beauty of Shigar. Their foreign demeanor persisted until they told me that their only connection with Pakistani folk music was the grey-haired Musadiq.

Like so many artists in the country, Musadiq also had a share in asking for the freedoms that others feared. In 1984 at NCA, Jamiat goons tried teaching him a lesson by hitting him on his left eye, a handicap that lived with him for the rest of his life. He once told us that when the news of Zia’s crash reached NCA, a few students rejoiced. An old man walked up to the party and quoted a Sufi:

Dushman maray tay khushi na keriyay … Sajna wee mar jana.
(Do not rejoice the death of your enemy, one day it will be your friends.)

Musadiq replied, But he (Zia) has ensured that no sajjan survives.

In the earlier part of last year, Musadiq was brave enough to inform a close circuit of friends about his ailment. Meanwhile, on his birthday, his wit was once again at its best when he updated the status


Thank you all! It’s a good half century in a country where we have low scoring batsmen 🙂

Despite his treatment abroad, things did not improve. Doctors advised him to stay away from the phone but his commitment to Dawn.com vetoed all advises. Three days back, a mutual friend informed about Musadiq being shifted to CICU. “We visit him and wave across the window,” he said, “and he smiles back”.

Hopes were high that he will improve but he again collapsed. On the scary night of January 15, 2014, he shunted in and out of consciousness. So many unsaid words brought him back but just for another day and a call from a Dawn staffer this morning, put an end to the whole trauma, making inlets for a wholesome remorse.

The condolence messages continue to pour into Dawn.com, the web edition he had so passionately managed. Back in Lahore, his friends gathered at the gate of NCA and walked the same track they used to take while going for their classes.

He will always be remembered not because of his genius at music or his journalistic acumen but how he lived. A peaceful man who never raised a voice instead, stirred a thought. As he will be buried across Chenab tomorrow, someone across Ravi had foretold his departure:

Vatan damaa’n dey naal tey zaat jogi,
Saanoo’n saak qabeel’ra khvesh keiha
Koonjaan vaang mamoliaa’n dais cha’ddey,
Asaa’n zaat sifaat tey bheys keiha…

-Waris ShahImage