Sunday December 04, 2022

The pride of journalism

January 25, 2022

I got the opportunity to work in Jang for five years. During that time, the way I studied the personality of Mir Sahib is not easy to describe in a few words. While writing this piece, a whole new world of experiences and observations came running in front of my eyes and I realised as to how a sapling grew into a big shadowy tree which now soothes every one.

During my stint at Jang, I didn’t have many meetings with Mir Sahib but whenever I met him, those meetings left lasting imprints on my heart and mind. He was an intelligent, hardworking and compassionate person. One of his greatest qualities was his humility and modesty. Wholehearted appreciation and encouragement on the good work was the top most trait of his personality. He used to speak very politely to his subordinates and ignore their mistakes with grace. Once, I published an interview of Indira Gandhi that was conducted by an officer of the Information Department Nasreen Pervaiz. During page making, inadvertently, the name of Nasreen Pervaiz was printed under Indira Gandhi’s photo, while Indira Gandhi’s name was printed below the photo of Nasreen Pervaiz. Next morning, when I saw the newspaper, my heart started beating very fast. The inevitable had come when I reached office. When I entered the office, I was told that Mir Sahib had already asked about me three of four times. As I was about to settle on my chair, my phone rang. With shaking hands, I picked up the phone receiver. On the other side of the phone, Mir Sahib spoke:

“Please come to my office Safoora Khairi Sahiba”

The very next moment I was in his room. First he rotated the paperweight placed in front of him on table and then asked. “Would you like to have some tea?”

Yes. (My voice was choking in my throat)

“Yes, yes, I... I ...fumbled....Actually, (I tried to speak)” I was about to ask for an apology when he said in his signature polite yet firm tone:

“When did Nasreen Pervaiz become the prime minister of India?”

“No... Sir, sorry... I could barely let out a word or two”.

Then he suddenly said: “Go and do its correction.” He held a newspaper in his hands and put it in front of his face. I was drenched in embarrassment.

“Yes sir and sorry again,” I said with a glitch and came out. I wrote a corrigendum in few words and gave it to the editor. The next day, Mir Sahib called again. I thought I had again made a mistake. He just said, “Shukriya (thank you)” and put the receiver down. I started to think that what type of person Mir Sahib is that he even points out mistakes with so much politeness and patience.

Factually speaking, Mir Sahib was a gem of a person in the world of journalism, who not only appreciated the young journalists (trainees) but also taught them the ethics of journalism. He was not in a habit of passing orders nor did I ever see him frowning, or having angry facial expressions, dis-likeness or displeasure for anyone. Mir Sahib burnt the mid night oil to make Jang one of the biggest newspapers of Pakistan. He was the best administrator. The greatest thing about him was that he never hurt the self-esteem of his workers. If someone committed a big mistake, he would rather call him in his room and would admonish him privately and his style used to be such that the said person would drench in shame. Pride, arrogance, and sense of superiority was never a part of his personality. He knew how to use time wisely. To him, work was the only priority in his life. His work ethics were in complete conformity to the father of the nation Quaid-i-Azam’s ethos, who said in one of his speeches, “Work, work and work and we are bound to success.” (Speech from Radio Pakistan, Lahore October 30, 1947)

For him, extravagance and opulence was the biggest flaw, even if it were the waste of a page of a newsprint.

One day, he came into the newsroom. Many journalists had written their news on papers and discarded these waste newsprint papers in the waste bin. Some papers had barely few lines written on them. Mir Sahib saw the dustbin, picked up the discarded papers, straightened them by placing them on the table, separated those pages in which few lines were written and placed the rest of the empty pages on their table. Without saying a word, he silently left the hall and went outside. I’ve never seen such qualities in any “Big Boss.”

He always instructed his juniors and workers to work with patience and tolerate each other. Mir Sahib was quite peace loving and gentle in nature. That is why the respect and honour he earned in the field of journalism, is hardly received by any fortunate person.

Time is flying very fast like a wounded bird. Today, print journalists are facing countless challenges. Whether it’s media or social media everywhere there is an unjust control of some influential people. When we were working in Jang, there was not such an anarchy. Rather we can say that after Mir Sahib his youngest son Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has adopted many of his father’s traits. Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman who is lovingly called MSR by his friends and colleagues, is not behind anyone in putting in hard work. Being a forward looking person, he always had a great passion to think ahead of his time, just like his father. Had it not been so, neither Jang Lahore would have been published nor would the publication of MAG have been a reality.

Mir Sahib was a gem collector. He would go extra miles to make intelligent and experienced journalists part of his organization and would meet all their demands because he believed that only satisfied and happy employees can give their best to the organisation. I am fortunate to have worked in those good times with him and undoubtedly it was a pleasant experience.

Today, when a number of newspapers are being published from different cities of the country, the importance of Jang newspaper is still intact. Whether the management of Jang comes under fire by court of law or any accountability forum, this newspaper and its sister publications stand tall, facing all challenges with pride. This is the result of the hard work and pure intention of an “Iron man” who the world knows as Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman.

Today, journalism is in need of a personality like Mir Sahib but is it possible?