Gilgit - Baltistan

Dr. Adam Nayar passes away

ISLAMABAD, July 29: The acting director-general of Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) Dr Adam Nayyar has passed away in Islamabad after a short period of illness. He was suffering from cancer of the lymph nodes. 

He has served the people of Hunza and other parts of Gilgit-Baltistan as a cultural anthropologist, ethnomusicologist and Director of Lok Virsa for decades.

The French government bestowed upon Dr Nayyar ‘Knighthood of Arts and Letters’ award for his contribution to the cultural life of the world.

The death of a good friend of North is a great loss for the whole country in general and Gilgit-Baltistan in Particular. The team of PT, on behalf of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, extends heartiest condolence to the family and friends of Late Dr.

Follow this link to read the interview of the late Dr. Unity in diversity 

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  1. A big lose for our country, indeed. interestingly after reading this news here i was searching for more detail in various national news paper, but could not find anything…?

  2. Dear Readers,
    It is really a shocking news knowing about the sad demise of Dr Adam Nayar.His contributions will be remembered and we might rarely find personalities like Nayar who was a true leader of his field with diverse experiences.
    Aslam Ghalib

  3. the intellectuals are a heritage for all of us. indeed it was a big lose.
    dawn news paper has covered the story as below

    Dr Adam Nayyar passes away

    By Jamal Shahid

    ISLAMABAD, July 29: Dr Adam Nayyar, Executive Director of Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) and a respected name in the world of culture, passed away here on Tuesday.

    He was 59 and had served PNCA for three years.

    Dr Nayyar was valued as an authority on Pakistani music, especially Sufi and folk music, and culture. His areas of interests and experience were ethnographic investigations, teaching and training, music and Silk Route music.

    His interests as an ethnomusicologist took him to Tajikistan, Turkmenistan in Central Asia, Senegal, Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa, and USA and France.

    His doctoral dissertation, published in 1986 from Heidelberg University, dealt with micro-level world views in a society undergoing change.

    Besides being the Executive Director of the PNCA, he was a member of the adjunct faculty of the Departments of Anthropology and Pakistan Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. He also worked for the Lok Virsa (Folk Heritage) as Director Research for over two decades.

    Recently the French government bestowed its prestigious `Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres’ (Knighthood of Arts and Letters) award upon him in recognition of his contributions to cultural life of the world.

    Dr Nayyar was instrumental in putting Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan on the world map of music world. In 1991, working as a team anthropologist, he produce a film on the musical heritage of Pakistan titled Pardesi which won an “Honorable Mention Award” at the Cannes Film Festival.

    Two other films — Religious and Sufi Music and The Music of Balochistan — that he produced with a French team also won silver medal at the Florence Film Festival.

    Capital’s leterati, Secretary Culture Shahid Rafi, PNCA director-general Naeem Tahir, architect Naeem Pasha and other close friends attended Dr Nayyar’s funeral.

    Naeem Tahir expressed sorrow over the demise of his colleague in a formal condolence message to his family.

    Poet and playwright Sarmad Sehbai said that in Dr Nayyar’s death he lost a personal friend of 40 years and the world of culture a brilliant and insightful scholar.

    “His ishq (love) with Punjab was admirable and his passion for culture and world music, specially qawwali, venerable,” he said.

    Painter Ghulam Rasool, who had known Dr Nayyar since 1974, regretted that the country wasted a talent in Dr Nayyar. “He was so much more gifted than any of us knew. A fine researcher, a professional and a talented person he was,” he said.

    Dr Nayyar’s two last books, A Treatise on Qawwali and Readings, Narrative and Unsaid in the Ghazal, were ready to go to print when he died. The books would further, what painter Ghulam Rasool called, his “cultural diplomacy”.

  4. After hearing this badnews, I was very much shcoked, indeeded. May God bless his soul with eternal peace. Amen.

    The relationship between Dr Nazzar and me was verz sacred indeed that was of Teacher-Student relationship.

    Being a genius scholr, Dr Nayyar was my Advisor/Supervisor during my M. Phil research work (dissertation). He was a verz compassionate and a friendly teacher. His great and sweet memoirs I can never forget till my last breath.

    His love for the peoples of the Northern Areas in general and Hunya in particular was incredible. He was a student of the knolwedge giant on the Northern Areas of Pakistan called Karl Jetmar during his reserch work on these mountain communities/societies. Late Dr Nayyar was very proud to call himself as one of his students. The same sentiments are with me to proudly call myself as one of Dr Nayyar’s students.

    Dr Nazzar has a lot of contributions manz of them have been highligheted in the DAWN (as pasted above). He also had worked on the people of Zarkand in Xinjiang province of China besides his love for the Sufism and Ismailism. He used to call me a luckz person that I knew Farsi langauge and did mz masters in Farsi literature. So this was a valued-added with Anthropologz, he used to mention. Thus, we used to have discusions on the Sufism also. I must say that I have learnt enormously from my great teacher.

    Although, I have lost my great teacher, but the memoirs of our academic company for couples of years are not forgetable rather are the precious gems that will remain with me till my last breath. Nothing I could do now except this prayer:

    May Allah! Rest Dr Nayyar’s soul in eternal peace and bless the bereaved family with patience to bear this loss: the loss which is not confined to the family of Dr Nayyar but rather to all the nation who deprived from such a genius, most talented scholar.

    Fazal Amin Beg,
    Dehli, India

  5. Though I have never met this great scholar but I have heard about him time and again especially from people of our area. Great minds and visionaries are always talked about and they are always alive in essence if not physically present.
    I pray that may his soul rest in eternal peace and may his family have the fortitude to withstand this great loss (Aamin)

    Sultan Ahmed

  6. Dr Nayyar lived a life of a modern darwesh, was a great humanist and progressive thinker, had passion for music, art and culture. He was calm, man with a vision and larger then life.

    I first met him in 1994, when he was Director Research Lok Virsa, and I had just joined AKCSP. Engr Ghulam Mohd who was CE of AKCSP and a classmate of Dr Nayyar in Lahore, introduced me to him. I was amazed to know that he knew half of the literati of Hunza/Gilgit, i knew!! and within an hour he asked me about all the known and unknown folktales and stories of Hunza, I knew roughly 20% of it.

    Our encounter continued during this period on many occasions in different meetings and seminars, and we also had the honour of visting him at his home in Islamabad many times with Didar of Hunza Carpets and enjoyed his words of wisdom and hospitality.

    The last time we met, were in Gilgit, probably in October last year, where he and Lucia came to attend the seminar at KIU on Archeological Heritage of Northern Areas.

    We drived to Sost to welcome the Women expedition team and he talked briefly at the ceremony in Sost.

    He took special personal interest to motivate the NA Administration to provide land in Jutial for the Northern Areas Museum and Arts Gallery. To the last day, he was working on the project to make this a reality.

    During his last visti to Gilgit, he also visited Astore-Rama with his friend, as Dr Nayyar did his PhD thesis in Diamer District. He knew many people. He was also involved in appraisal mission for the NADP project.

    We lost a sufi, a humanist, an art lover and a friend of Northern Areas.


    Amin Beg
    AKRSP Gilgit

  7. May Allah! Rest Dr Nayyar’s soul in eternal peace. Ameen
    During a visit with Lopyor Fazal Amin Beg I met him in the Area Study Centre, University of Peshawar, He was really a great thinker with diverse experinces, his service for the people of Hunza and Northern Araes will always remembard.

  8. Dr. Adam Nayar was a good friend & an erudite scholar.An Anthropologist of outstanding calibre, Dr. Nayar was a pleasing personality.In his death Pakistan lossed a brilliant scholar & a man of high quality.

  9. I first met him at Alliance Francaise d’Islamabad in 1994 where we both had registered for French language course. He was one of the senior most students in the class. He was a multilinguist and could speak German and Dutch as well besides of course flawless English. When he came to know that I’m a Punjabi, he told me that he was a punjabi too and came from Lahore. We then started talking in Punjabi every time we met.

    I was greatly inspired by the way he spoke and the way he used to amuse us all in the classroom with his funny but erudite comments. I remember once I proudly told him that I listen to classical music and can play the keyboard. I was rather stunned and humbled when he told me that he was director reserach at lok virsa.

    Then one day, he invited me to his place in F7 in Islamabad. We drove together in his maurice which was in immaculate condition. There was nobody else in his house ; he lived alone. There were some musical instruments lying in the drawing room. He used to organise musical events at his home and was also training in classical music. I was highly impressed by the huge collection ob books at his house. Most of these books related to anthropology and many to music and cultural studies. He then told me that he had married a French musician Martina Catella and that she’d be visiting Pakistan soon.

    Months later, Martina did arrive and I went to see her. In those days, we were going to have “Le Temps des Livres” festival at the Alliance. Martina helped me learn a poem in French. I also gave her a few lessons in Urdu on Dr Nayyar’s request.

    One day, Dr. Nayyar called me and said he was in Pindi to buy her some electronics. I invited them both to my place for lunch. That was the first and the last time Dr. Nayyar came to my place in Pindi. Martina was very excited to see my mother. They stayed at my place for a couple of hours and left.

    Dr. Nayyar saw my interest in music and one day asked me to go to Sarmad Sehbai, his longtime friend. Sarmad was getting training in classical from an old pakhawaj player (I forgot his name). I just went there once. He also offered me a foreign scholarship to study music which I declined.

    Dr. Nayyar was instrumental in arranging some musical events at Alliance Francaise as well.. He organised a flute recital, sarod recital and some other events. We often met at music events in Islamabad specially the ones organised by Lok Virsa or PNCA.

    Then we both were away for almost eight long years. Then one day, I called him and introduced myself. I thought he would have forgotten me. But he instantly remembered me and invited me to his place. The same evening, I visited him with a pack of mithai (sweets). He was alone again but disclosed that he had married a longtime Spanish friend who is teaching Spanich at National University of Modern Languages in Islamabad. Minutes later, his wife Lucia came in and Dr. Adma introduced me to her. We chatted for some time and Dr. Nayyar talked about the good old days. And then I left…

    That was my last meeting with Dr. Adam Nayyar in around 2004-2005.

    I was so away that I came to know about his death just now when I google searched his name to see where he was. And the first entry came as a shock “Dr Adam Nayyar Passes Away”

    I still have a couple of books, some cassettes and a few CDs which he gifted me. This little traesure will always remind me of Dr. Adam Nayyar.

    May God Bless You, Dr.Sahib!

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