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Sunday December 05, 2021

Yesteryear's iconic newscaster Suraiya Shahab reaches a tragic end

Suraiya Shahab, who extended her services to the state-owned Pakistan Television (PTV) for as long as ten years, succumbed to cancer and Alzheimer's disease after a prolonged illness

September 13, 2019

Paving the way for female newsreaders in an era bygone, yesteryear's iconic newscaster Suraiya Shahab passed away Friday morning in Islamabad. She was 78.

Shahab, who extended her services to the state-owned Pakistan Television (PTV) for as long as ten years, succumbed to cancer and Alzheimer's disease after a prolonged period of illness.

Starting her broadcasting career in the 60's with a magazine programme at Radio Iran Zahidan which mustered immense success, Shahab's story is a tragic one that shows how the country forgets its own legends.

"It is sad to see how the legends of the nation are banished from people's thoughts in their lifetime only," Shahab's son Khalid shared in an exclusive conversation with The News.

He added, "My mother used to helm a radio programme when she started reading the news professionally at the tender age of 16. She worked for PTV and Radio Pakistan, before joining the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)."

Right to Left : Khalid Hameed, Arjumand Shaheen, Suraiya Shahab, Hameed Akhtar

"She was diagnosed with breast cancer, for which she underwent surgery in Germany," Khalid added further.

"The doctors however did not completely remove all the cancerous cells that later spread to her brain. She then had to undergo a brain surgery after which most of her memory got affected and she suffered from Alzheimer's disease."

Along with extending her services to renowned organisations like PTV and BBC, Shahab was also engaged in philanthropic work.

"She was actively involved in social work such as construction of wells, building of schools. During her early years with PTV, she worked very hard to regularise daily-wage labourers," Khalid added.

Ishrat Fatima - another remarkable newsreader who was recently recognised for her excellence through a Pride of Performance Award - upon learning about the sad demise of Suraiya Shahab said it the news is extremely heartbreaking.

"Suraiya Shahab was a great name in the news reading realm. However, I say this with a very heavy heart that people had forgotten her even when she was alive," she said.

"I went to her place to meet her a couple of times when she was sick. She sometimes used to recognise me, sometimes not," added Fatima.