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July 20, 2018

Tributes showered on fearless journalist Razia Bhatti


July 20, 2018

The seminar room at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), City Campus, was dedicated to the memory of the late journalist, Razia Bhatti, at a simple ceremony on Thursday morning. It was renamed Razia Bhatti Seminar Room.

Glowing tributes were heaped on the late journalist, who died of brain haemorrhage in March 1996. All the speakers recalled her fearless stance on various issues, her bold and objective approach, and her refusal to compromise on the truth.

Kamal Siddiqui, director of the Centre for Excellence in Journalism (CEJ), referred to Razia as an icon of journalism and hailed her as a really brave person. “Razia’s words will never become irrelevant despite social media,” he said.

Siddiqui announced the institution of a gold medal in Razia’s name, which would be awarded at the CEJ, and also that a student from the centre would be offered an internship at Newsline, the journal Razia founded in 1989 and edited till her demise in 1996.

He also talked about the CEJ and said over 700 journalists had been trained over the last four years. Starting 2018, he said, the centre had commenced MA (Journalism) classes comprising 20 candidates, 10 men and 10 women. He said these aspirants had been drawn from various parts of the country.

He said that the CEJ had also started a certification programme, with the collaboration of the UK Deputy-High Commission, for journalists who had been working in that capacity without any formal qualifications.

Huma Baqai, associate dean at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), regretted that Razia never got a local award during her career although she received highly coveted foreign awards like the IWMF (International Women’s Media Foundation) Award for bravery in journalism, in New York, which spoke of her journalistic and intellectual acumen.

She said the IBA had decided to give top preference to the teaching of literature, philosophy, history and the social sciences as it was these subjects that increased one’s intellectual acumen and depth of vision.

Umber Khairi, a colleague of Razia’s, said, “Razia had commitment, compassion. The Herald navigated the depression of the years of autocratic dictatorship very astutely under Razia’s leadership.”

Zaffar Abbas, editor at Dawn, recalled his working relationship with Razia Bhatti when he started his career with the evening daily, the Star. He recalled how very understanding and cooperative she was.

He said that in the days of the pernicious censorship when the pages had to go to a censor authority in the information department, Razia’s advice and guidance proved so very valuable. He dwelt on the censorship of the era which existed all the way up to 1986.

“Self-censorship is there even today,” Abbas said.

Razia Bhatti began her journalistic career n 1967 when she joined the Illustrated Weekly of Pakistan. Later, when the journal was rechristened the Herald, she became the editor and gave it a totally new refreshing look with her bold and objective pieces.

In 1988, she, along with her staff, resigned because of what they alleged was interference from the authorities, which, they said, affected the independence of the journal. In 1989, the team founded Newsline which Razia edited till her death in 1996. Later, a plaque bearing the new name of the room was unveiled.

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