Condolences pour in for journalist Talat Aslam, who passed away on May 25
ournalist Talat Aslam passed away on May 25 at his residence in Karachi. He was 67.
An icon of the old school of journalism, Aslam (better known as Tito) was widely recognised for his witty takes on Twitter on current political and social issues in the country.
He had been suffering from kidney failure since 2016 and was undergoing dialysis thrice a week. However, he uncomplainingly went about his life and his work.
He was born in Chittagong, then East Pakistan. In 1971, his family moved to Lahore and then to Abu Dhabi, where he received his early education. Later, he went to England to study anthropology at the University College, London.
In his media career – mainly English print journalism – he was most associated with two major media groups: Dawn and Jang. After completing his studies at the UCL, he had moved to Karachi and joined Herald, where he worked as an assistant editor and then editor. His colleagues at the monthly included Sherry Rehman, Zafar Abbas, Azhar Abbas, Hasan Zaidi, Idrees Bakhtiar, Aamer Ahmed Khan and Zaigham Khan.
In early 2000s, Aslam, and his close friend filmmaker Hasan Zaidi, left Herald and joined Geo TV ahead of its launch. However, after a brief stint at Geo, Aslam started working for Dawn’s editorial section. In 2004, he became associated with The News International, where he was the senior editor at the time of his demise.
Many colleagues at The News remember him as a mentor generous with advice and story ideas. Many picked the nuances of reporting on urban life in conversations with him that ranged from politics to art and culture.
Following the news of his death, leading politicians, journalists and people from various backgrounds took to social media and issued statements to express their sorrow and offer condolences. His friends and colleagues continued to tweet anecdotes and personal stories through the day, some of them remembering the various ways he had touched their lives and their careers.
Aslam was fond of travelling, music, food and culture. “When he returned from an outing, he shared stories of adventures and folk songs he had picked on the way. How could he remember these folk songs?” wondered Hasan Mujtaba, who in the 1990s used to be a frequent visitor along with the late Musadiq Sanwal and Mohammad Hanif.
Following the news of his death, leading politicians, journalists, and people from various backgrounds took to social media and issued statements to express their sorrow and offer condolences. His friends and colleagues continued to tweet anecdotes and personal stories through the day, some of them remembering the various ways he had touched their lives and their careers.
Federal Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman said on Twitter that it felt like her heart would “burst with grief upon hearing that old friend, veteran journalist Talat Aslam had just passed away.”
“Aslam was not just an old-school journalist, with the highest integrity, he was a seasoned English-language editor,” she said. “He was the kindest, funniest, wittiest, warmest soul in the whole world.
Parliamentarian Sanaullah Baloch, an occasional contributor to The News, said that Aslam had always supported his writing at a time when few people had the courage to publish the Baloch perspective. MNA Mohsin Dawar said that Aslam had helped him publish his first piece.
Writer Fatima Bhutto tweeted that when she began her “life in writing as a 24-year-old, I had the good fortune to have Aslam as my editor... He was funny, kind and let me write whatever moved me.“
Politician Afrasiab Khattak said that anyone who met Aslam even once would never forget his wit, humour and humanity. “That explains the large circle of his friends he had from all backgrounds. His death is a huge loss for journalism.”
The writer is a Karachi-based journalist and researcher. Twitter @zalmayzia