Pakistani poet and human rights activist Fahmida Riaz died in Lahore on Wednesday. She was 73 and ill for a long time, according to local media.
Riaz has authored more than 15 books on poetry and fiction, and headed the National Book Foundation, reported The Express Tribune.
She is regarded as a pioneer in feminist literature, according to Al Jazeera. She was accused of using erotic and sensual expressions in her poetry when her second collection of poems Badan Dareeda was released in 1973. The themes in her writing were considered taboo for women writers, reported Dawn.
Riaz translated the works of Albanian writer Ismail Kadare and the Sufi poetry of Rumi into Urdu. She also wrote against the ban on student politics during General Ayub Khan’s regime between 1958 and 1969.
Riaz and her husband lived in self-exile for over six years in India during former military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq’s regime.
Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) spokesperson Maryam Aurangzeb said it was a loss, not only for literature but also for democracy. “Fahmida Riaz had worked sincerely throughout her life for the rights of women,” she said.
Writer and novelist Kamila Shamsie said Riaz was a “transformative force” in her poetry and her life. “One of the brightest of lights in the dark days of Zia-ul-Haq, and beyond.”