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Amar Jalil, Asma Shirazi honoured over courageous journalism

By News Desk
April 01, 2022

The Arts Council of Pakistan Karachi and Ahfaz-ur-Rahman Award Committee bestowed the Ahfaz-ur-Rahman Award for Courage of Expression to journalist Asma Shirazi and Freedom of Journalism Lifetime Achievement Award 2022 to author Amar Jalil at a ceremony held at an ACP auditorium on Thursday.

The awards were given in memory of the late Ahfaz-ur-Rahman who rendered immeasurable services for the cause of freedom of press in the country, especially during the era of military dictator Ziaul Haq.

The ceremony, which was moderated by author Naazir Mahmood, started with journalist Imran Sherwani's documentary on Ahfaz in which Karachi Press Club President Fazil Jamili, the late journalist’s wife Mahnaz Rahman, veteran journalist Nisar Zaidi and others expressed their views.

Students of the ACP also rendered a poem calling for continuing penning the truth. The recipients of the awards were decided by the nine members of the Ahfaz-ur-Rahman Award Committee after mutual consultations. The committee comprised ACP President Ahmad Shah, Dr Tauseef Ahmed, Naazir Mahmood, Noorul Huda Shah, Dr Ayub Sheikh and others.

Speaking online on the occasion, Jalil said he was happy to be receiving the lifetime achievement award. However, he stated that he was surprised after he was offered the accolade as he had not displayed that much courage in his life to deserve such an award.

He said that many questions remained in his heart that kept shaking him from within. He told the event that he had written and spoken things that were not acceptable to powerful circles, due to which he had to suffer consequences. He thanked the committee for choosing him to be the recipient of the award.

The other recipient, Asma, also addressed the event via video link. She said it was great honor to receive the award named after Ahfaz. She added that the award had become a great source of strength for her. "It is better to die than to lie. It is better to die by telling the truth. Ahfaz-ur-Rahman's guidance is always with us,” she remarked.

She said that due to her journalism, she said attempts were made to harass her and her children. She added that her honesty and credibility were questioned and efforts were made to ostracise her. However, she said that despite all such efforts, she could not be discouraged.

Asma said that in the end the truth prevailed. Her award was received by Ahmad Shah from veteran journalist Ghazi Salahuddin. Meanwhile, Jalil’s award was presented by another veteran journalist Hussain Naqi. It was received by Dr Amjad Siraj Memon.