IMAGINE what it takes to be responsible for the news or editorial side, or for that matter, marketing or advertising side of a newspaper! See time-squeezing and tension-reflecting figure of an overtaxed News In-charge or a cowed marketing executive facing scary proprietor with ads backfiring. It needs to deviate from the straight and narrow and discover some simple, subdued and less-heard yet revealing and pioneering media figures of Pakistan.
Identifying our quiet journalists’ vocal role it is speaking volumes of their being able, humble noble and gentle both in person and in professional expertise. They represent all forms and manifestations of print media, including news subbing, editing and reporting, editorial and feature writing, layout and production. What reflect here is selflessness, rising over and above self, overshadowing ego or vanity and being models of class and caliber at work.
Discovering from the oblivion at the busy Bank Road Rawalpindi and climbing stairs of an old building was resident office of Pakistan’s prized newspaper “Nawa-i-Waqt” with Tariq Warsi, a dervish-like maestro of news In charge indeed! Hailing from Lahore and living in Rawalpindi, he would visit his dear family once a fortnight for some hours and the rest devoted almost round- the-clock, most silently, cheerfully and skillfully, to Nawai-Waqt’s pioneering prominence in Pakistan, especially in the Punjab.
At 9 Hameed Chambers, Aabpara, Islamabad there was an aura of pledge with “The Muslim” flourishing as the brainchild of the scholarly and visionary Agha Murtaza Pooya amid such Editors as Maliha Lodhi, Mushahid Husain and others. The man behind “The Muslim” news credibility was Khalid Akhtar, News Editor, so simple and silent, so calm and composed, so smiling and shining, so helping and hospitable and a thorough genius on the news desk. The level of this newspaper’s news credibility can be gauged from the fact that that it was preferred by diplomatic community, NGOs, business circles, private and public sectors and the public at large.
Sitting quietly but streamlining swiftly loads of news amid public, government, business, political and in-house pressures at “Pakistan Observer”, G-8 Markaz Ali Akbar House, Islamabad until a decade back was an all-positively accommodating Mufti Saheb, a model of emotional maturity, seriousness of purpose and penetrative thinking as regards management of a vibrant news desk. Identifying, subbing and publishing local, national and international news for a well-acclaimed newspaper with such a renowned Editor as Zahid Malik and his principled and patriotic editorial policy was a positive challenge for Mufti who silently yet instrumentally worked his heart out as an example in piety and professionalism.
Contrary to a standard News In-charge feeling about irritating PROs as Public Repellant Officers was Hasan Mausanna welcoming them for human values and yet managing meticulously the news content as the Resident Editor of “The Nation”, Islamabad rocketing in popularity and being one of the most creditable English dailies within a few years with the Nizamis watching with satisfaction from Lahore and such media celebrities of today as Syed Fahad Husain and Nusrat Javed sub-consciously, if not consciously considering Mausanna Saheb as a source of inspiration.
Able, noble, humble and gentle, Syed Manzar ul Hasan, though not prominent like seasoned editors of popular newspapers, was Editor of a less heard newspaper, “The Leader”, in Karachi. a training ground for young media aspirants,, especially students, and a launch pad for corporate writers and editors of professional publications like Nusrat Nasrullah producing the “Progress” magazine from PPL and Zia ul Islam Zuberi, managing PR with specialized publications from Siemens Pakistan, both contributing with vigor and vitality to print media in Pakistan. But it was Manzar Shaheb’s grace and dignity in person and as a journalist that such stalwarts of journalism as Sultan Ahmed and Nizam Siddiqi were associated with “The Leader” for a long time: with Sultan Ahmed sending his editorials to “The Leader” regularly even after he got associated with DAWN and Nizam Siddiqi, all love and care for “The Leader” even when he had joined JANG. This is a tribute to Manzar Saheb, a simple and illustrious Editor of a less heard newspaper reflecting over JANG and DAWN horizon through Nizam Siddiqi and Sultan Ahmad, stars of journalism in Pakistan.
Unbelievable is a revelation about a silent, subdued, scolded and suppressed soul, with big shots bossing around for fashion or as a trend for the weak, unheard what to talk of less heard in the vibrant world of print media in Pakistan. This is Zamir Ahmed, designing, laying-out and producing fantastically with his magical fingers, Weekly MAG, public fancy best seller, doing roaring business for the JANG GROUP. With men of letters generally disapproving and man in the street commonly loving MAG, it is money that makes the world goes round for the proprietors amid all scanty and suffocating Zamir dragging day long and night half for a mere livelihood. His level of commitment was so unheard that during his 30 years of service he did not take a day off until he retired unceremoniously.
Twisting and turning in the lanes and bi lanes on a motor bike, managing to the high towers of the corporate sector for ads, doing 52 supplements annually for the weekly, surviving under the hanging sword of the business crazy proprietors, enduring amid the fear of failing and losing the job with a large and demanding family to feed was beautifully titled General Manager, Marketing, Pakistan and Gulf Economist (PAGE). This is Late Syed Mubarak Ali, literally thinking and working round-the-clock, to procure ads for this weekly: planning, negotiating and coordinating in-house and with the clients throughout the week to ensure a reasonable supplement and planning the same week for the next week for 52 times a year and helping the dissatisfied proprietors do roaring business.
Imagine a public enlightening and development-focused page of a popular daily newspaper in common man’s language with public appeal and appreciation! This was “Education zine” of “The News”, coordinated by Sheher Bano, a creative and composed journalist vying to do something “out-of-box” and highlighting the brains of Pakistan with their simple and interesting little articles in such fields as social, natural, biological, medical, environmental, physical and pure sciences etc. for public information, for research and reference and as assets of Pakistan. This page was abruptly halted with sycophants prevailing over proprietor’s mind with the logic that it was not cost effective and useful to have a page on education with little readership as Sheher Bano, the architect of The “Education zine” was required to focus more on business side through supplements, sponsorships and ads.
Barring exceptions and generally speaking a News Editor is considered a tough proposition in interaction with the public, especially PRO’s. Some call PROs as Public Repellant Officers and stay reserve in house and with external contacts. When S. M. Fazal, Editor, Daily News was approached with a press release or article for publication, especially when it is positive, associated with a noble cause and written by a student, it would be accepted with smiles and cheers. This is how a low-profile Editor carries a big positive image in promoting journalism in Pakistan.
Imagine such pioneers of FM Radio as Akbar Shahbaz, with world class credentials in broadcasting, public-captivating voice and trendy shows, instrumental in being an architect of the popular Mast FM 103 only to be intrigued and reduced to a part-time RJ; Think of Tajdar Adil, the celebrity maker PTV Producer of such public sweeping shows as Neelam Ghar and Moin Akhtar show and producing such public pulsating patriotic songs as “hum zinda qaum hain” going into the oblivion. Discover Matloob-ur Rauf and Basheer Zaidi Aseer, Controllers Current Affairs, PTV and PBC respectively, models in grace and dignity, symbols of current affairs acumen, experts in time and priorities management, icons in guiding, sharing and helping indeed. Emanating from a handful of such silent role models of PBC and PTV is light to be quiet media’s instrumental role models was Nargis Hashmi, popular with the public for her creative entertainment programs through the PTV World, for producing inspiring and informative interviews for high level foreign dignitaries coning to Islamabad through PTV IR Department and by her personal and professional grace and honor as a pioneering woman producer turned head in the challenging world of PTV.
One humble example of a think up in print media, first woman reporter of English dailies, especially of DAWN, Pakistan’s largest circulated English daily; a silent model of concentration and commitment in the news department of Pakistan Television, a low key literary figure and an avid reader of life at large, a prodigy of a faculty in media studies and in media management, is none other but legendary Shahida Kazi, known also for human values, caring, sharing and counseling in her own simple and modest capacity with professional credibility and recognition.
There are torch bearers in character and in expertise that reflect of a silver lining over our debatable media horizon. A harmonious blend of business journalism expertise at DAWN, leading the cause of human rights, especially for the media, busy almost-round-the-clock being the President of the Karachi Press Club, cherishing and practicing to the extent of taking personal pains for simple human values was none other but Late Sabihuddin Ghausi. Late Afaq Ahmad fought incapacitation and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) with sheer will power to finally lose the battle for life as Sub-Editor, “Business Recorder”. Same is true of Late Iqbal Mirza who quietly braved illness and sacrificed his life at Business Recorder.
Shining over the media vista is an English daily from Sindh with local, regional, national and international overtones managed by Qazi Sajjad Akbar, a patriotic Pakistani, feels at home in Pakistan and upon arrival from vacations abroad says that he has been freed from captivity as he cherishes freedom in his country.
Remembering Late Syed Fasih Iqbal, Chief Editor, “Baluchistan Times” and “Zamana” Quetta, former President of APNS and CPNE and a former senator, reflect of a personality not by titles, but by touching humility and sheer simplicity, remarkable contribution to positive thinking, commitment and service to the case of journalism in Pakistan, especially in Baluchistan. Last but not the least is a quiet and humble but clear and loud role of such journalists as Rahimullah Yusuf Zai from Peshawar which was a harmonious blend of professionalism and endeavoring for peace initiatives in the region. To be remembered indeed are the Late Ayesha Haroon from the Nation, Lahore and Late Maisoon Hussain from DAWN, Karachi reporting relentlessly for many a social and humanitarian cause. Indeed journalists like Muddassir Mirza, JANG, blending professional class and caliber with smiles and cheers and some others also need to be discovered, remembered and complimented upon.
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