Perfection personified

Perfection personified

January 25, 2018
Shahzada Irfan Ahmed

It was 26 years ago that Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman, the legendary figure who revolutionised journalism in this part of the world, left for his heavenly abode. It was he who supported the Pakistan movement with the help of his Urdu newspaper, Jang, and left an indelible print on the pages of history. He was well-known in those times and is still remembered as a man with immense professional integrity and strength of character.

He was called as Mir Saheb by his contemporaries and the staff who had developed a strong bond with him, based on the principle of mutual respect. Born in Gujranwala in 1927, he had moved to Karachi and settled there. There he started publishing Daily Jang and introduced innovation in this profession. Mir Saheb was bold enough to make experiments but all his moves were calculated and were made with the aim to benefit from technological advancements made from time to time.

Those who have met him, known him or worked under him talk extensively about his diverse qualities and remember him with good words. One such quality of Mir Saheb that we would like to discuss here is that he had nurtured very cordial relations with his staff starting from top to bottom. He was not selective when it came to giving respect to others and caring about them. A proof of this is that he would sit with his workers, whether they were editors or helpers, in a comfortable environment and listen carefully to what they had to say. He was a God-fearing and practicing Muslim so he always ensured that he did not do injustice with anybody or treat him inferior to others.

Muneer Khokhar, who was appointed as the In-charge of Camera Section in Lahore in 1981, recalls how he would simply walk into the under-construction building at Davis Road and sit down wherever he would find space. He says that Mir Saheb was not fond of getting protocol or treated in a special manner for being the owner of a media empire.

Khokhar further says that whenever Mir Saheb would come to Lahore office, he would try to ensure that he had met the staff employed in each department of the newspaper. He was often seen talking to the printing section staff and asking them about intricate issues regarding printing quality. He knew every process involved in newspaper publishing so he very well knew what he was talking about. Similarly, he says, it would be very easy for the staffers to explain their point to him because he knew what problems could prop up in their sections. The katibs were very close to him and he would specially sit with them and discuss their issues.

Munzir Elahi, a member of the founding team that launched Jang in Lahore and worked in the group for 25 years, remembers him as a very keen listener, always open to advice coming from wherever it could be. He says he was an extremely sober person who would never utter a harsh word and refrain from hurting others with his comments. Regardless of his reply being in positive or negative, it seemed he was listening to each and every word of those talking to him with full attention. “In fact, those talking to him would feel special due to his interest in what they had to say.” says Elahi.

Mir Saheb is also remembered for being a humble and down-to-earth person. He used to have the services of Yaqoob, helper in Lahore who would bring paan of his choice when he wanted to have it. He would hardly bother any other person for his work other than him.

Elahi adds that Mir Saheb would convey his message to his staff in a very candid and non-offending way. While citing an example he shares that one day he came to a room where some senior staffers of the newspaper were taking notes and discarding paper slips cut out of newsprint after writing on one side of the slips. What he did was that he lifted some paper slips from the wastepaper basket and suggested the staffers to write on both the sides. He was so careful in his speech that he did not address any particular person, despite the fact that he knew who was wasting these without remorse, and just made a personal comment. The point he stressed was that newsprint was an imported item that costs Pakistan foreign exchange and should therefore be used prudently, Elahi adds.

However, this does not mean that Mir Saheb was not a progressive person or he avoided spending on development of his staff and his organisation. Elahi shares, it was Mir Saheb who got Urdu printing software, Noori Nataleeq, developed by Monotype Corporation London, when others could not even think about this. This, he says, was an example of how progressively he used to think.

Perfection personified - Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman

Tikka Khan, Elected Lifetime Secretary General of All Pakistan Akhbar Farosh Federation, is yet another person who has sweet memories of great times spent in the company of Mir Saheb still fresh in his mind. Talking to The News, he says that having risen to the top through hard work Mir Saheb knew the issues of the working class and therefore could relate with them very well. He had great respect for the workers and would never differentiate with people on the basis of their social class or financial standing.

Khan also remembers him as a cool-tempered and composed person who would never lose his calm. There were many occasions where contentious issues were discussed with the union for long hours but these meetings always ended on a positive note. He shares Mir Saheb was aware of the problems of people and that is why he would object to the suggestions of other newspapers’ owners to reduce the commission of newspaper sellers. He remembers Mir Saheb rejecting this demand on grounds that it was unfair to deprive one of what one was getting at the moment. A person shall not be forced to forgo his lifestyle by making a cut in his earning and making his family suffer was what he would say to justify his stance.

These are just a few of the qualities of Mir Saheb discussed by some of his admirers out of many. Though the details are not exhaustive, these will definitely give an idea about his personality to the readers as well as reveal the traits of Mir Saheb’s character that made him gem of a person and an extraordinarily professional.