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January 25, 2021

Urdu journalism in Pakistan: a look back

Opinion

January 25, 2021

Marching a step ahead every day, experimenting with new ideas, making improvements to the already set goals, and innovating new techniques were the qualities of one and only Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman. He was an exceptional journalist, an inventive entrepreneur, a visionary media man, a futurist, a good mentor, a quick learner, and an extraordinary human being. In short, he was a one-man-Army. Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman’s devotion to promoting Urdu journalism is beyond anyone’s expectations, and today we will explore his role towards the contribution he made in the field of print media and Urdu journalism.

In one and a half hundred year’s history of the subcontinent, Roz-Nama-Jang holds the honour of being the most circulated newspaper in the region and this feat was achievable because of the efforts of Mir Sahib. Reminiscing the days of glory of Jang newspaper, Dr Tahir Masood, professor at the Department of Mass Communication, University of Karachi, shared that Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman worked all day and night to build up his chain of profit-yielding newspapers with a passion for developing modernised society and spreading literacy among the future generations. “He would experiment with different things to bring about a change in the print industry and always strived for adopting new technologies before anyone else could take the lead.

For instance, the daily Jang was the first Urdu newspaper in Pakistan which acquired “Noori Nastaliq” the most modern pre-press production technology and created history. This was an experiment of Mir Sahib to promote Urdu journalism by adopting the most modern typeface and his dream came true in the early 80s with the success of this historical project. Other newspapers and news agencies followed suit and this was an important contribution of Mir Sahib for Urdu journalism,” said, Dr Masood while recollecting his thoughts about Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman’s contribution towards print journalism.

Mir Sahib was indeed a man full of eagerness and love for new technology. He was a pioneer of Urdu journalism with a never-ending hunger for learning new things from printing photographs, cartoons, to employing technologies like tele-printers, telex, fax, and scanners, etc. He was a commander of his boat and steered his ship of Urdu journalism into the modern era single-handedly.

“I have often heard people saying, “What has Pakistan given to us”, but I ask them as to what they have contributed towards their country.” These were the words of late Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman, a selfless and staunch worker for Pakistan, an unmatched journalist, and a trendsetter in Urdu journalism.

Former chairperson of the Mass Communication Department, University of Karachi, Rafia Taj, while discussing MKR’s personality spoke of her memories of Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman in these words, “I still see him as the captain who leads the contingent of Urdu journalism even after his demise. He played a significant role in promoting Urdu journalism and understood the need of the hour. He was fully aware of the new trends in the media around the world and he introduced these trends here in Pakistan by bringing in modern technologies for his newspapers and magazines.”

In the initial days of his career, Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman neither had any funds nor resources or experience in journalism. His only capital was his sheer determination and zeal to work hard. He would perform different roles when necessary; at times, he would become a reporter, or someday he would act as a photographer, for specific occasions he would also perform the duties of an editor, and it was his absolute dedication that he was able to build an empire in such a short period of time. Even the competitors of Mir Sahib acknowledge his determination and contribution towards advancing print journalism.

“It was my misfortune that I wasn’t able to meet Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman in his lifetime. However, while writing my research papers, I got to know about different aspects of his life and his personality and the efforts he put in for strengthening journalism makes him remarkable and worthy of appreciation. His motto was work until your last energy cell calls it a day, he would come to office early and leave almost at midnight, and this was his everyday routine. Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman was an inspiration for all, easy to approach and talk to, he always took good care of his employees and made sure all their needs were fulfilled. Being the man of principles, he never used his authority to pressurise others or used a harsh tone while talking to his subordinates,” said Dr Rafia Taj.

Mir Sahib was one of those journalists was dynamic in his work and could create history. His ideology of journalism was based on making life easy for the people of the country by keeping them informed and aware of what is happening around them.

His insatiable urge to publish authentic local, national, and international news made Jang the most widely circulated newspaper of the century. Apart from collecting credible data from various sources, Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman wanted to attract every member of the family as well as all sections of the society towards his newspaper by publishing articles of their interest. Other than news for everyone, he also used his paper to raise voice for the downtrodden, marginalized sections of the society. Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman’s policy became the reason for Jang to serve as a humanitarian organization too.

The history of journalism will remain incomplete without the contributions of Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman, the founding father of the Jang Group. His selfless services to the field of journalism encouraged and improved Urdu language in our society. The focus of Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman and Jang newspaper was to educate children and youngsters so that they could understand their culture and the importance of Urdu language. It was done meticulously by printing various articles in different pages of Jang which catered to the interest of these children and youth.

“Under the kind patronage of Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman, the children’s page of Jang became the most widely read section of any newspaper in Pakistan”, said Naveed Iqbal, a columnist, and professor at the Karachi University. “I remember the days when a paperboy used to deliver Jang at our house every morning, we siblings would race to the gate to collect the newspaper, and this was the routine of every household back in those days. Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman knew that the prime responsibility of the media is to educate and inform youngsters about the happenings, inventions, and innovations to encourage them to contribute to their society”, shared Naveed Iqbal while cherishing his childhood memories.

Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman dedicated his life to the improvement of journalism. Since the beginning of the daily Jang in 1940s, Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman worked hard and fearlessly to convey the factual news to his readers.

The Jang newspaper is aimed at to making the readers aware of all the happenings at national or international level. “People used to criticise Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman and Jang for siding with or supporting the sitting governments of the time on many issues. But they were wrong. Mir Sahib was a simple and honest man, and he would find both sides of the stories and publish the truth, which seemed bitter to people who would take advantage of the lies and spread rumours about the credibility of Mir Sahib’s paper. He was a great mentor, a motivator, a helper, a trendsetter who dedicated his life to promote journalism”, Naveed Iqbal praised Mir Sahib for his contribution and priorities towards journalism.

No newspaper entrepreneur in Pakistan’s journalistic history was as successful as Mir Khalil-ur- Rahman and his Jang Group of Newspapers is. Mir Sahib left this world on January 25, 1992, but the seed of journalism he planted decades ago, which he watered with his heart and soul, has grown into a big shady tree now with its branches spreading across the country.