A pioneer of Urdu journalism in Pakistan

January 25, 2022

Popularly known as the “Father of Urdu Journalism” in Pakistan, Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman was the epitome of excellence. He was not only an exceptional journalist but also a great human...

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Popularly known as the “Father of Urdu Journalism” in Pakistan, Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman was the epitome of excellence. He was not only an exceptional journalist but also a great human being. His vision, resilience and dedication made him a man of his words. His hard work, passion and intelligence made Jang newspaper one of the leading newspapers in the country. In the early 1990s, Mir sahib started The News, an English daily that was the country’s first modern publication. Being new to this field, it competed directly with Pakistan’s established English newspapers of the time and catered to a far larger audience. Today, the Jang Group owns several well-known newspapers, magazines as well as a large network of satellite television channels known as the Geo television network. In short, Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman was a one-man army who made the journey of promoting Urdu journalism beyond anyone’s expectations and his efforts for the betterment of print media are still remarkable.

A lot of renowned personalities from the country and around the world shared their thoughts about the legend Mir Sahib at various points in time. Some of them remembered him as a very kind and down to earth person, some praised the way he promoted truthfulness in the field of journalism and some remembered him as a pioneer of Urdu journalism.

While going through the archives kept in Jang library, one wonders how Mir Sahib was remembered in good words in his lifetime as well as after he left this mortal world. In this article, we have tried to reproduce those good sentiments of great people who spoke about Mir Sahib and his services rendered in the field of journalism, which were printed in Jang’s edition of Jan 25, 1995, on his death anniversary.

Some of these people are not alive today, but their words have become the part of our archives and will be quoted whenever the history of Urdu journalism in Pakistan will be written.

While talking about the authenticity of the Jang newspaper, former British parliamentarian Garry Waller (late) said, “the greatness of Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman can be measured through Jang London because being a chairman of the House of Commons I really know about the importance of quality and authentic information. Jang newspaper’s effective and accurate reporting, news, analysis, and features always delivered the correct information and gained popularity around my area and across the readers of England and became quite popular among them. It was the struggle of Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman and his leadership qualities that Jang became one of the leading Urdu newspapers of the country.”

One of the greatest political leaders of Pakistan, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in one of her statements termed Mir Sahib as the founder of Urdu journalism. “Throughout his journey, he had introduced new things in the field of journalism and left a great institute behind that will help the nation to hold accountable the political and social institutions. The greatest quality of Mir Sahib was his dedication to delivering authentic news to the people during times of censorship and immense pressure. He performed his duty during that time when truth was hidden in violence. Undoubtedly, he will always be remembered as the ‘Father of Modern Journalism’ in Pakistan.”

From a very young age, Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman was ambitious and started to work with great dedication. A very famous Urdu poet Tabish Dehlvi (late) while sharing, his early life glimpses with Mir Sahib, said, “I’ve known late Mir Sahib from Delhi. He was a young man and started journalism as a new profession. From the beginning, he was very hardworking, sincere, and a man with honest rules. He started his professional career from Jang which used to be published from Delhi. His keenness to achieve his goal and continuous hard work gave him success. After the creation of Pakistan, Mir Sahib started publishing Jang from Karachi and introduced the policy of honesty and truthfulness in the field of journalism. He not only appreciated good strategies of the government but also with constructive criticism gave them suggestions for better policies. On the other hand, he came out as the representative of common people and highlighted their issues through his newspaper. As a result, Jang became the most favourite newspaper of the masses and leading newspaper of the country.”

Another notable Urdu poet, writer, journalist, broadcaster, translator, critic, researcher, linguist and lexicographer of Pakistan Shan-ul-Haq Haqqee (late) remembered Mir Sahib’s struggle in the following words:

“The role and struggle of Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman during the Pakistan Movement cannot be forgotten. Similarly, his contributions in the field of journalism and the initial steps towards the publication of Jang newspaper was great milestone in his lifetime.”

Former chairman of the Senate of Pakistan Wasim Sajjad in one of his statements for Jang emphasised that the young journalists of Pakistan should follow the example of Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman and should work hard. “When he launched Jang, he used to work 18 to 19 hours a day. He was not only the editor of the newspaper but at the same time, he was a reporter, columnist, analyst, sub-editor, photographer, and business manager.”

Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman inspired people from around the world. A former speaker of Bangladesh parliament Sheikh Razzak Ali (late) remembered Mir Sahib as a very generous human being. He said that Mir Sahib was not only a good and loving human being but also a great journalist. “I met him during the tour of China in the early 80s. He was such a soft and well-spoken journalist that it was difficult to forget him.” Former Iranian lawyer and activist Dr Ahmad Sayyed Javadi (late) praised Mir Sahib’s constant struggle for the promotion and betterment of Urdu journalism in remarkable words. He said “Whatever Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman had achieved in the field of journalism is all because of his continuous hard work and intelligence and he deserved to be appreciated for that. The contribution and role of Mir sahib and Jang in the promotion of journalism and Urdu language cannot be forgiven.”

Indeed, great people are always remembered in such good words. Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman became the trendsetter in the media industry with his dedication and honesty towards his work. Like his own field, he also had great concern for the people of his country. He wanted good people to come in power and change the fate of people. He was disappointed with various people coming to power and not doing anything for people. In one of his interviews he expressed these feelings in the following words:

“The reality is that whoever comes in power in this country should work. If a person who works hard with dedication and leaves this world then we raise hue and cry that who will continue his legacy. Honestly speaking, such a leader hasn’t come yet. I feel very sad about it. There should be some leader who thinks about the welfare of people and makes the country prosperous. Then we would proudly say that there was someone who changed the destiny of our nation. People will also remember him in good words. Otherwise people come and go, nobody remembers them. There were dictators, civilian dictators, non-dictators who ruled this country, but they hardly left any impact on people. Either people have become senseless or they think that “What they have done for us”. These people come in power and then leave without doing anything for people. I think the people are right as nobody did anything for them.”

Throughout his journey, Mir Sahib strived to impart positive things to his juniors in order to prepare them to face the difficulties of time. Mir Sahib left this world on January 25, 1992, but his vision, courage and commitment to work will remain alive as the greatest example in the field of journalism.

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