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May 18, 2015
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A book that looks back at a pernicious era

Karachi

May 18, 2015

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Karachi
Accolades were heaped on noted journalist, leftist leader and champion of democracy and egalitarianism, Ahfaz-ur-Rahman, for his book, “Sab Se Bari Jang”, a chronicling of the movement for the freedom of the press by journalists in 1977-78 when journalists were incarcerated and flogged for their struggle for freedom of the press and unhindered information by then president General Ziaul Haq and his coterie.
The book launch that took place at the Arts Council Saturday evening included a galaxy of journalists who had undergone the ordeal of public floggings, jail sentences, and other kinds of humiliation at the time.
Many of the journalists of that era who had to undergo infamy at that time are not even in our midst any more, notably Minhaj Barna, Nisar Usmani, Riaz Malik, and some others.
The first one to speak was Mehnaz, wife of the author. She narrated her confrontation with the plainclothes policemen who came to arrest Ahfaz while he was in hiding. She narrated the arrest of Lalarukh Hussain despite the fact that she was the mother of an infant girl.
She was followed by Tahir Najmi, presently the editor of the Urdu daily, Express. He said that it was very difficult to write an account of that era and that Ahfaz deserved all the admiration and credit for having accomplished the job, writing about an era when the government of the day imposed pernicious censorship to conceal its injustices and its foreign policy adventurism. He said that the book would be a guiding light for journalists of the future and a comprehensive account of the sacrifices of the journalists of an earlier generation.
He said the book was a valuable narrative as now the world had changed, things had changed and the complexion of future struggles would be very different, now that journalism had become a corporate activity, now that journalism had moved into the domain of the corporate sector, unlike the altruistic mission it was at the time of the struggle.
Dr

Jaffar Ahmed, director of the Pakistan Study Centre at the University of Karachi, lauded a Ahfaz’s venture as a great service to democracy and freedom of expression. He said the book would go down for all time to come as a brilliant expose of a pernicious era of our history.
Fehmida Riaz in her tribute to Ahfaz, said that the book bridged a yawning gap and recounted her adventures with Zia’s minions during the movement.
Noted leftist, Zahida Hina, congratulating Ahfaz on the venture, said that oppression started with the advent of the Ayub era but it was in the Zia era that cruelty and injustice took on a superlative form. It was in this era, she said, that a handful of committed young men and women decided to stand up for the truth no matter what the price they’d have to pay.
Among others who spoke and narrated his stint in jail and their adventures and misadventures was journalist Farhad Zaidi. The author presented a copy of his book to chief guest Mairaj Muhammad Khan.

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