Opinion maker

February 25, 2024

Nazir Naji will be remembered for insightful writings

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olumnist Nazir Naji passed away in Lahore on February 21, following a prolonged illness. He was 81.

Naji had been receiving medical care at a private hospital.

As a columnist Naji was popular on account of his profound insights and astute commentary on a wide array of socio-political issues.

His dedication to his craft and his invaluable contributions to journalism had earned him widespread recognition, including the Hilal-i-Imtiaz award.

Naji’s passing marks the end of an era in Pakistani journalism. His legacy, characterised by wisdom, will continue to resonate with his colleagues, readers and admirers.

On Thursday (February 22), Naji was laid to rest in a Johar Town graveyard. The funeral was attended by a multitude of people from all walks of life, including friends and colleagues.

During a long and illustrious career, he was a columnist for daily Jang for 27 years. In 2012, he had joined the Dunya Media Group, where he was the group editor of Dunya newspaper until his passing. Earlier, he had also served a term as chairman of the Academy of Letters.

Speaking to The News on Sunday, journalist Mazhar Abbas recalled that Naji had been the editor for weekly Akhbar-i-Jehan and daily Musawaat, and was a prolific writer with a command over journalese.

Abbas said Naji became controversial after he published a photograph in the weekly Shahab. In 1977, he was arrested along with other journalists including many workers of PPP’s organ, daily Musawaat, which he had edited. Later, he seemed to have changed his mind and came round to supporting the Zia regime.

“Later, he became a speech writer for the then premier Nawaz Sharif.”

Columnist Raza Rumi said Nazir Naji was an iconic columnist. “His writings were insightful and he was quick to judge the direction in which political winds were blowing. Over the years, he had developed a unique style that inspired a whole generation of writers and commentators.

“The best measure of his influence was the huge following that he had garnered in the pre-internet age,” said Rumi.

Dr Hassan Shehzad remembers reading Nazir Naji’s columns when he was a media student.

Naji was an iconic columnist. As a political analyst he was perceptive and alive to the pulse of the nation.

“My teacher, Javed Chaudhry, gave several presentations on his work. Regardless of Naji’s political inclinations, no one could say that his writings lacked quality,” said Dr Shehzad.

Shehzad said that Naji had not born into a wealthy family. Also, he had not studied at an elite institution. His success thus showed what one can achieve through hard work and dedication.

Journalist Salman Lali said Naji’s passing was a great loss. He said Naji had left an indelible mark on journalism, both as a prolific writer and a great source of inspiration for journalists. “His commitment to excellence was evident in his meticulous attention to detail.

“His writings were a testament to an unwavering dedication to presenting well-researched and thought-provoking perspectives,” Lali said.

Analyst Waqas Habib Rana said Naji’s career had been a testament to the immense power of courage and conviction. He said both as a journalist and an activist, he had never wavered in his fight against tyranny and anti-democratic forces. “His passing is a loss for the media community. His legacy will continue to inspire future generations of journalists,” Rana said.

Caretaker Minister for Information Amir Mir also sought to convey profound sorrow upon learning of the passing of the senior journalist.

Mir said Naji’s contributions to the field of journalism had been invaluable.

Caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi said Naji’s legacy would endure long.

Naqvi also prayed for eternal peace for the departed soul and for strength and solace for the bereaved.

Nazir Naji was something of a trailblazer. As such he will continue to inspire and guide future journalists. His contributions will not be forgotten. His incisive analysis and fearless opinions have earned him widespread acclaim and respect.

Naji’s contributions extended beyond mainstream journalism. He spoke truth to power, challenging injustices and advocating for the marginalised. His words resonated with millions and were thought provoking.

The writer is a freelance investigative journalist based in Lahore. He reports on politics, economy and militancy. He can be reached on X @HassanNaqvi5

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