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Khalilullah Khalili Dies at 79; Afghan Poet and Ex-Official

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New York Times
Published: May 14, 1987

Khalilullah Khalili, an Afghan poet and diplomat who had been living in exile since 1979, died on May 4 in Islamabad, Pakistan. He was 79 years old.

Mr. Khalili was a poet of international reputation, and many of his works were translated into English. He was the author of more than 50 works, including histories.

After the Communist takeover in Afghanistan, he became known as the poet of the Afghan resistance with the publication of his collection, ”Blood and Tears.” His last volume of poetry, ”Nights of Exile,” was published several months ago in Pakistan.

Mr. Khalili was born in Kabul. He was a professor of history and literature at Kabul University until 1949, when he became Minister of Information and Culture. He served in Parliament and in 1963 became a diplomat, serving abroad. He resigned after Soviet troops entered Afghanistan in 1979.

He spent several years in the United States, returning to Pakistan last year.

Mr. Khalil is survived by his wife, Fauzia, of Islamabad; four sons, Nejat of Maywood, N.J., Jarullah of Los Angeles, Motassim of Kabul and Massoud, a spokesman for the Jamiat Islami Resistance organization in Peshawar, Pakistan; four daughters, Marie Nasiri and Saleha Sarem of Maywood, Salma Yousufzai of Richmond and Batool Safi of Los Angeles.

View the original New York Times post here.


Daughter Publishes Memoirs of Afghan Poet and Statesman Ustad Khalilullah Khalili

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Available on Amazon
Available on Amazon

Nearly three decades after her father’s death in 1987, Marie Khalili has published the long-awaited English translation of Memoirs of Khalilullah Khalili: An Afghan Philosopher Poet – A Conversation with his Daughter, Marie. Her husband, Afzal Nasiri, translated and edited the Memoirs. Nasiri is a former editor of the Kabul Times in Afghanistan.

The couple lives in Woodbridge, Virginia, and manages a successful State Farm Insurance office in Manassas. They are well known in the regional business and faith communities of Washington, D.C.

The original memoirs of Ustad Khalilullah Khalili, the eminent historian, poet, philosopher and statesman of Afghanistan, were written in Persian in Maywood, New Jersey, between 1983 and 1986 while he was in exile in the United States, during the Soviet occupation of his country.

Ustad Khalili authored more than 70 works of poetry, fiction, histories and Sufi studies. His booklet From Balkh to Konya on the 13th century mystic poet Jalaluddin Balkhi-Rumi is highly regarded across the Persian-speaking world as well as India and Pakistan. He is best remembered for his quatrains; his most notable work was published after the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union in 1979, and provided inspiration to the freedom fighters.  Khalili is among the few contemporary Afghan poets to gain a following in Iran.

In his memoirs – an ongoing conversation with his eldest daughter that was taken from taped recordings and notebooks – serve as the testimony of an eyewitness to eight decades of Afghan history. Khalili recounted his life, his literary endeavors and his government service under the reign of four kings. After an unjust imprisonment and exile to Kandahar, he returned to service as ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Iraq, and secretary to King Zahir Shah. After the 1978 Soviet coup, he took asylum in the United States.

Ustad Khalili moved to Pakistan in 1986, hoping for a return to his beloved country. Unfortunately, he died before realizing his hopes on May 4, 1987 and was buried in Peshawar near the tomb of Pashtu poet Rahman Baba. In 2012 his remains were returned to Afghan soil and re-buried in the city of Kabul, near the University he once co-chaired, in a place of honor. Afghan academicians, intellectuals and scholars attended his re-burial ceremony in 2012.

Memoirs of Khalilullah Khalili: An Afghan Philosopher Poet – A Conversation with his Daughter, Marie (ISBN-13: 978-0615889726, 554 pages, $19.99) is available in paperback in English and Persian at

For more information, email Al Nasiri at or visit