A gem of a person

January 25, 2022

It was the time when Benazir Bhutto was the prime minister of Pakistan. Nawab Akbar Bugti used to come to Islamabad as a member of the National Assembly to attend assembly session. In one of the...

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It was the time when Benazir Bhutto was the prime minister of Pakistan. Nawab Akbar Bugti used to come to Islamabad as a member of the National Assembly to attend assembly session. In one of the conversation sessions, he criticised Benazir Bhutto by calling her ‘Waderi’, I filed that story. In those days, fax facility was not introduced. Coincidently, due to the mistake of the operator the word “Wacheri” (which means a filly, a young female horse), was printed instead of Waderi. After the printing of that story, Peoples Party’s activists (Jiyalay) attacked the Jang’s Karachi office in the form of a protest procession under the leadership of the then PPP senator Masroor Ahsan. Few of the young protestors also entered the room of the Editor-in-Chief Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman and broke things in the room. They also demanded to publish an apology for the mistake committed and also fire the reporter who gave that report. Mir Sahib with his symbolic composure listened to the point of view of the protestors and sent them back by satisfying them with his gentle words. In the entire episode, the conciliatory role of the then Interior Minister Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan was also commendable. The very next day, the explanation of the news as well as the action taken against the reporter were prominently published on the front page of Jang. The same day in the evening, Mir Sahib called me and said, “Oye mundiya, pareshan na hoin, sab theek hai” (Boy, don’t worry, everything is okay).” This was my first ever communication with Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman Sahib. While I am writing these lines after almost 30 years, even today, I can feel his soft yet sympathetic voice in my ears.

After this whenever Mir Sahib would come to Islamabad from Karachi, I wanted to meet him and introduce myself to him but I did not have the courage to do so. However, one day I got this opportunity at an official event in Islamabad. I went to him and introduced myself. He held my hand while continued talking to the people around him. Those few minutes of close contact with him became an asset which added to my find memories of him. After that, I got the opportunity to pay our greetings to Mir Sahib through our editor Shorish Malik. Due to my junior official status and young age, he did not have any connection with me but he always showed his acquaintance with me with a kind and gentle smile whenever I met him. These are some of the memories of the old Jang office of Rawalpindi located at Gawalmandi. At that time, Mir Sahib used to come regularly from Karachi to Islamabad and would spend a long time at the Rawalpindi office. It hardly ever happened that if he was in Islamabad and he did not pay visit to Rawalpindi office and the newsroom there. Without any fervor or pride for his position, he used to meet and greet every staff member of the newsroom, pay them Salam and shake hand with them. If he ever saw an unfamiliar face at work, he would introduce himself to him by saying, “Bhai, I am Khalil-ur-Rehman”. His style of giving training and guidance to his office colleagues and junior office workers was also very unique and exemplary.

In those days, we used to write a small news item consisting of a few lines on a large slip of newsprint paper and similarly a large slip was also used for writing a headline which was a waste of paper. Mir Sahib came up with a solution to stop this waste of paper. If he himself ever wrote a news and sent it to us, he would write the news and headline on the same slip. Gradually in the newsroom this method was automatically adopted by all without any instructions from him. In the same manner, other small things which fell into the category of extravagance or carelessness, Mir Sahib would always do something practical to stop that action and thus the situation was rectified quickly and effectively. Some of the staff members would describe his unique behaviour through their own limited thinking and approach. However, when the privileges, facilities and amenities available for the workers of Jang which were regularly provided to them on the instructions of Mir Sahib and were not even imagined by any worker in any other media organization, then they would also understand what was the purpose behind this peculiar style of training of Mir Sahib. Whenever Mir Sahib sent a news item, even if he wrote that news himself, he would always write a line in the corner of the paper,”If you deem it appropriate, take it”. Instead of using commanding approach on anything he preferred to adopt humility and it also played a great role in the training of the staff members.

Mir Sahib was a gem collector. He not only knew the worth of gems of this field but also valued them. He used to say, “no one is useless, it is your responsibility to explore their abilities and use them effectively”. It is also on record that whenever he employed anyone, he used to think about his decision many times. However, once he made a decision, he always trusted that person. He never fired a person himself from his job. He would even forgave the biggest mistakes done inadvertently by his staff members. That is why, despite completing the retirement age, many of his staff from his time are still receiving the same salaries and benefits as they were taking in the past. But these are the stories of the past three or four decades. Now the situation has changed. Each era has its own requirements, compulsions and justifications. People of that time considered Mir Sahib as their intercessor and protector, sympathizer and elder. And Mir Sahib really was. Our Mir Sahib.

-The writer is a staff member and serving as Senior Magazine Editor in Jang.

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