Who is Ehsan Sehgal?
Khawaja Ehsan Elahi Sehgal, known Ehsan Sehgal is a Dutch-Pakistani poet, author, and journalist. He is also an activist for the democracy, freedom of the press and speech. In 1978, he fled to the Netherlands, to escape from the political conflict under General Zia-ul-Haq régime in Pakistan, and he opted to settle in the Netherlands, where he has resided, since 1978. He organized the Muslim United Nations (MUN) in 1980, as the founding chairperson. He served in the Pakistan Army, during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965, at the age of fourteen and earned a Tamgha-e-Jang (War Medal) from the Pakistan Army.
He was born in a mercantile family on 15 November 1951 in Larkana, Sindh, Pakistan, he earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Urdu literature. He also obtained a Bachelor of Law degree from Karachi University. He married a Dutch woman, and unfavorable events resulted in a divorce.
He has achieved awards from Indian and European Urdu literary organizations in recognition of his literary works. He is particularly famous for his Urdu poetry collection Zarb-e-Sukhan, in the Urdu-speaking world. Pakistani English newspaper, Daily Times describes the book as a "splendid poetry collection." Daily Dawn mentioned him, one of those a few Pakistani English poets, whom poetry, has been traveled, and acknowledged abroad and homeland as well. Famous Indian poet Nida Fazli and Pakistani journalist and writer Sultana Mehr compared his poetry with the style of Ghalib and Allama Iqbal. He has also published The Wise Way, a collection of quotes in the Dutch, English, and Urdu languages, and collection of English prose poems, Breathing Words. Several Pakistani singers have sung his ghazals and naats. Sehgal has also written a novel and several poetry books, and articles published in various Urdu newspapers and English as well.
Early years and Background
Sehgal was born in Larkana, Pakistan, in a Punjabi business family. His father, Khawaja Manzoor Elahi Sehgal, was from Pind Dadan Khan, Pakistan. Sehgal received his primary and secondary education in Larkana. He later moved to Karachi for higher education. He was awarded a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree from University of Sindh, Hyderabad, and obtained Master of Arts Urdu (M.A.) and Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) degrees from the University of Karachi. He worked in several private firms before he initiated his career in journalism. Sehgal distinguished himself as a journalist; however, "unfavorable conditions" under the rule of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq forced him to depart from the country. In 1978, he sought political asylum in the Netherlands, settling in The Hague to work as a freelance journalist. He currently freelances for Urdu newspapers and magazines and online daily newspapers and English as well.
He married a Dutch national named Hetty who converted to Islam, taking the name Rubina Sehgal, on 31 July 1980 in The Hague, Holland, but during 33 years raised and increased the religious, cultural and moral differences between them that resulted in divorce on 15 November 2013, with whom Sehgal has two daughters, Memoona Sehgal, and Tehmina Sehgal.
The Prisoner Of The Hague
Sehgal claimed in his Urdu autobiography that Indian intelligence sources tried to misemploy him, but failed. Sehgal mentioned his family background, which included his five aunts marrying in the Bhutto, Abbasi, Siddique, Jelani, and Syed families, while his mother belonged to Awan family and married into the Sehgal family.
He wrote about an incident that occurred in 1980, in The Hague, Netherlands, during his political asylum. He described the incident in detail when he was an assistant editor in an evening newspaper, in which he edited and published stories that discussed black magic. He discussed two events involving one about himself and the other about his country-mate. Sehgal claims that witchcraft harmed and even destroyed his and his friend's career, future, health, and life. Sehgal biography also discusses the struggles of life.
Sehgal claimed that when he wrote a letter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan and Chief of Army Staff about a possible conspiracy of the Indian Intelligence and target killing in Pakistan in November 2012. As a result, unknown groups of spy occupied his social media profiles, watching and listening to his activities, which were in violation of the international law and abuse of privacy. He wrote such a situation created psychological harassment. The autobiography consists of 420 pages, reveals many factors of life. He had diagnosed advanced cancer in 2017 that he considered it was the fault and ignorance of the doctors, who didn't realize his symptoms seriously, even he told and insisted them. Sehgal also didn't exclude the possibility of both incidents in 1980 and 2017, occurred due to some kinds of chemicals to damage his health by opponents and hired ones.
Sehgal began his literary career in 1967. His first publication was a novel, but his consequent books were all collections of poetry. He writes mostly in the poetic form called ghazal, but has also written Ruba'i, Nazm, Qataa, and Naat. He also writes in the meter called Beher and is well versed in poetry meter of the Urdu language. Zarb-e-Sukhan is a collection of the collections, and he is famous for that book.
Besides the novel and books of poetry, he published a collection of quotes and articles in 1999. In 2010, having lived in the Netherlands for over three decades, he also published a collection of aphorisms in Dutch and having the desire to share his ideas with a Dutch audience. The book, in Dutch De Wijze Weg ("The Wise Way"), was translated by Naeem Arif. The Wise Way is also published in both the English and Urdu languages. Daily Dawn mentioned him, one of those a few Pakistani English poets, whom poetry, has been traveled, and acknowledged abroad and homeland as well. His latest collection of English prose poems is Breathing Words.
Various Pakistan singers have sung his ghazals and naats. He has been praised by many Urdu writers and poets, especially by Ibn-e-Insha who has appreciated Sehgal's literary work in his weekly written columns in Akhbar-e-Jahan Karachi. An author writes, "As far as the poetic justice in Sehgal's writing is considered, it is debatable. In spite of some shortcomings, he keeps on writing which is good. His work over a period of time has been acknowledged." A journalist of English newspaper The News International wrote in an interview that "Going through Sehgal's poetry one is instantly aware of a strong message,
an intellectual depth, and a sharp poetic sensibility." A famous poet of India Nida Fazli and Pakistani journalist and writer Sultana Mehr compared his poetry with the style of Ghalib and Allama Iqbal
Sehgal has received awards of Molana Maher-ul-Qadri Award in 2001 from Urdu Trust London, U.K, Allama Shariq Jamal Award in 2005 from Bazm-e-Shaoor-e-Adab in Jaipur, India, and Faiz Ahmad Faiz Award in 2011 from Urdu Tahreek Aalmi London, U.K, in recognition of his best poetry works. He has also received Pride of Performance by Maraqaba Hal Holland, The Hague, Netherlands in December 2013. He also writes prose poetry in English, such as:
Who has connections,
He is great and greeted
Who has not,
He is minor and mistreated
Now it is diplomacy
They are keeping
In their hands, veto
But they are preaching
To us democracy
Of the blue planet
Have to realise anyhow
It was always; it is always
It will always be that
Where is a might;
There all is right.
Sehgal started his career as a reporter for the Karachi daily Aghaz in 1970. He soon became the sub-editor with responsibility for the student pages, magazine and city news pages. He was also editor of the fortnightly Karachi magazine, Tamseel.
Sehgal in his childhood period played with Murtaza Bhutto, Shahnawaz Bhutto, and Benazir Bhutto, the children of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, foreign minister in Ayub Khan's cabinet. In Larkana, when General Ayub Khan's government house arrested Bhutto in 1968, there was a huge demonstration in protest against Khan's government, where Sehgal read out his poem against Ayub Khan, favoring Bhutto in front of the demonstrators. Later, Bhutto, in his bungalow where he was under house arrest, thanked Sehgal. Sehgal also became a basic member of the Pakistan Peoples Party's youth branch of Larkana.
In 1978, he fled to the Netherlands, to escape from the political conflict under General Zia-ul-Haq régime in Pakistan. In 1980, Sehgal established the Muslim United Nations during his stay in the Netherlands. He penned its charter and sent it to all Islamic states. He was the founder of the organization and currently serves as its chair. He also attended the Islamic conference in Baghdad, Iraq, during US-led Iraq War in 1993, on the invitation of Saddam Hussein's government.
In Pakistan Army
Sehgal has also served as a soldier, his patriotism and the spirit of sacrifice excited him at the age of 14, to join the Pakistan Army during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. He got short training and received a Tamgha-e-Jang (War Medal) from Pakistan Army, AMC Centre (recording) Abbottabad, Pakistan. The news was published in several national newspapers of Pakistan.
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