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Tuesday February 07, 2023

The loss of a giant

By Editorial Board
December 03, 2022

A modern-day polymath, king of one-liners, veteran journalist, thespian, visionary, wordsmith, raconteur par excellence – this is just a glimpse of how people have chosen to remember Imran Aslam, president of the Jang/Geo Group and one of the giants of Pakistani journalism, as he passes away at age 70. Better known as ‘Tippu’ to his close friends and colleagues, Imran Aslam was no ordinary man: in his younger days, he had worked as director of Sheikh Zayed’s royal fleet and when he turned to journalism, he became a trailblazer in every role he played. As a playwright, he was not just politically and intellectually alive but also side-splittingly witty. Born in 1952 in Madras, Imran Aslam spent his early 20s as a student in London.

But Imran Aslam’s most significant contribution came when he joined the Jang Group – first as part of the founding team of this very newspaper (The News), and then as part of the ground-breaking team that launched Geo. Under him, Geo flourished as did the many journalists he mentored over the years. In fact, the word most often used for Imran Aslam would be: ‘mentor’ – not just to journalists of all stripes but even to artists (actors, directors, stage persons). His creative genius was manifest in diverse avenues; this is the man who wrote the iconic Rozi (starring Moin Akhtar), the man who came up with the idea of launching The News on Sunday (Friday at the time), the man who spearheaded some of Geo TV’s finest projects, the man whose stentorian voice made him a voice-over artist who could animate his words. From acting to writing he had complete command over the world of theatre; and from editing newspapers to launching TV channels, the media were also his forte. There is no facet of Geo TV that did not benefit from his insight and help. As editor of The News, Imran Aslam ensured that this newspaper adhered to the highest editorial standards. As a playwright his repertoire spanned over 60 plays for stage and television, most of which drew critical acclaim.

In the nearly forty years of his professional life, Imran Aslam showed us what people’s journalism was, how important art, theatre and literature were for the human condition, and how there was nothing a bit of humour couldn’t resolve or some satire couldn’t mock gently. Today, not just the Jang/Geo Group but all of journalism stands so much poorer without this kind mentor who exuded the kind of coolness many in the newer generations aspire to. May Imran Aslam rest in peace – his words and guidance will be missed by the scores of journalists that looked up to him and his genius.

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