By Ghazi Salahuddin
An ambitious campaign to develop reading habits in Pakistan
When it comes to measuring human social development in a society, per capita consumption of newsprint becomes a crucial yardstick. Economic as well as intellectual progress depends, to a large extent, on the circulation and reach of good reading material. And this would include newspapers and magazines as well as books. Pakistan, unfortunately, is lagging far behind many other developing countries in the intellectual and academic domain. There is a pathetic lack of reading habits in the country. Circulation of newspapers and magazines is very poor, books are not read widely and there is a great dearth of libraries.
Against this backdrop, Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman Memorial Society has embarked on an ambitious campaign to develop and improve reading habits in the country under the title: "Parho aur aagey barho". Fittingly, this campaign is being launched on the 11th death anniversary of a man who, as founder of the Jang Group, has already made a sterling contribution by providing an entire range of reading material. Since media, print as well as electronic, presents a blend of education, information and entertainment, the Jang Group provides an excellent platform for the launching of this campaign. That is how we pay tribute to the legacy of Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman.
The task, initially, would be to inculcate the habit of reading among school students. It is an established fact that habits formed at this stage can be life-long. At the same time, we need to create awareness of how reading can enrich the lives of individuals of all age groups. Reading is important for all literate and educated people to help them to cope with new knowledge and ideas in our changing world.
Now that the "Parho aur aagey barho" campaign is formally being launched, new programmes will be initiated to promote reading habits and make people realise that reading, besides giving them pleasure and enlightenment, can help in their personal and professional development and also improve their social environment. In this context, particular attention will have to be devoted to the role of libraries and that of the librarians. Most people would require guidance on how to build on their interest in reading.
Given the state of our intellectual infrastructure, existing levels of literacy, and standards of education in our schools and colleges, the challenge of improving reading habit is formidable. It may be argued that we are a chatting society and not a reading society. The oral tradition is embedded in our spiritual development. In addition, our exposure to reading material is abysmally restricted. There are no good bookshops and the libraries are almost non-existent. In a city like Karachi, some good libraries were maintained by foreign missions but security precautions have led to their closure, at least for the time being. There is no central public library from where citizens could borrow reading material. The lure of the electronic media, television and the Internet, is increasingly causing concern among parents and teachers as a reason for the decline in the reading habits of the children and the youth.
But we know that in more advanced and affluent societies, massive changes wrought by information revolution, marked by satellite television, internet and cell phones, have not diminished the spread of the reading material, particularly books. In fact, Internet and television have provided a new scope for galvanising interest in books and intellectual pursuits. Amazon.com has been one of the Internet's more popular sites and Oprah Winfrey has added millions to the sale of a book by promoting it in her show. Here, then, is a pointer for us. We, in Pakistan, have a new opportunity of promoting reading habit through an innovative use of the electronic media. Not only that, a literacy movement could also be launched to enlarge the market for reading material.
Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman Memorial Society's assignment, in pursuing its commendable endeavour to promote reading habits as a means to personal advancement, is to utilise the vast resources at its disposal to spread the message. We have some examples of how successful programmes for promoting reading habits have been conducted in other countries. Roughly, they are categorised into three main groups: book-based programming, bringing books to public, and creating new formats to promote reading. These activities, however, necessitate an infrastructure of libraries and bookshops. The publishing industry also requires official support.
campaign to promote reading habits has to be interlocked with other
campaigns for social development that are undertaken by civil
society organisations. Coordination in these efforts can truly
create synergies in related sectors. At the heart of the "Parho
aur aagey barho" campaign is the realisation that intellectual
deprivations may effectively undermine all our efforts for nation
building and social advancement. People have to be told that reading
can also enhance their professional and worldly gains. But it is not
enough to know the reasons why one should read more. Also helpful
would be to learn the ways of strengthening your reading habit and
it is in this area that the proposed campaign can make an important
If you or your organisation would like to
contribute/participate in this campaign please contact:
Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman Memorial Society
Karachi office: Akhbar Manzil, I. I. Chundrigar Road, Karachi - Tel: 2629558 (Ext 2122)
Lahore office: Davis Road, Lahore - Tel: 6367480
Khalil-ur-Rahman Memorial Society has been launching a literacy
campaign "Parho aur aagey barho" on the occasion of Mir
Sahib's death anniversary. The purpose of this campaign is to
inculcate reading habits among the people. The Jang Group arranged
two forums on "Literacy" and "libraries", in
this connection in which renowned scholars of the country expressed
their opinion on these topics. The articles in these pages comprise
the excerpts from those forums.
Usman: It is my personal observation that studying religious books
has much developed and people buy such books. One of the reasons may
be that these religious books are favourably priced as compared to
the other books. As regards studying other books I may say that
encouragement from parents and teachers is missing. For studying
books, this habit takes root from childhood. The government also
gives concessions for printing other books like it gives to
'Journals' and 'Digests'.
Jamshed Mirza: I
feel that among the factors that contribute in the decline of
readership, one is the
negligence of parents. Not sufficient funds have been allocated to
schools and colleges in contrast to IT. No library in Karachi is
up-to-date. The financial assistance offered by the government to
the libraries is misappropriated. High prices of books are the
another factor that causes hindrance in the growth of readership.
Prof Haroon Rashid:
In my opinion one of the important reasons in the decline of book
reading is the confinement of our education system within the four
walls of 'professional education'. This system no doubt produces
qualified and graduate students holding degrees, but in the strict
sense they are not educated. Even this system has flaws, because the
teachers and the students depend more
on 'notes' than the books. The curse of TV, VCR and CDs has
also played its role in alienating children from book reading.
Dr Abdul Wahab: In
the past Karachi city had a number of good book shops at M A Jinnah
Road, but now they have disappeared and substituted by commercial
shops, however it is heartening to note that now-a-days frequent
Book Fairs are held and books are sold at much discounted prices.
Another reason is that students feel that there is no merit-gauging
standard, hence they regard or confine their endeavours only for
getting a 'degree'. TV and Internet have now become the source of
getting knowledge and information, so these things have retarded
Dr Sayeed Zafar
Saifee: In my opinion the habit of book reading starts from the
'primary level' and gets strengthened when one reaches at the
secondary level of education. But as we have witnessed that now at
these levels, the students have not shown interest in book reading,
neither their parents encouraged them. I have made special efforts
in this respect at the Karachi University to promote readership
among the students. The library here is most up-to-date. I have
authorised the heads of the different departments to prepare lists
for books, which would be purchased for the library. In this
respect, an amount of Rs 15 million has been allocated to the
Karachi University for purchasing books.
In addition to
this, the University's writing and printing department has been
converted into Karachi University Press. The University has for the
last 3 years arranged 'Book Fairs', where the publishers are invited
to display their books and they are providing discount up to 50 per
cent for the students. For meaningful development of readership
among the people, it is necessary to establish many small-scale
libraries, and students groups should be urged to visit such
inculcates a sense of responsibility in the minds of the readers. It
would not be out of context here to quote the first
"Command" by Allah Almighty's archangel Jibreel Alaihi
Salam (Angel Gabriel) to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Sallalaahu
Alaihi Wassallam) in the Hira Cave on the hill known as 'Jabal-e-Noor'.
The first 'Command' also happens to be the first verse of the Holy
Quran. It is "Iqra" meaning "Read". This command
to "Read" was repeated twice after the first when the Holy
Prophet (SAWS) replied to the Archangel that he could not
"read". However, when the "Iqra" command is
repeated for the third time, the Holy Prophet (SAWS)starts reading
along with Allah's Archangel. It is a divine miracle and a divine
'sign' - a sign that signifies the undeniable importance of reading
in a believing Muslim's life.
the Forum on 'Literacy'
University of Karachi
Director, Royal Book
Waqar Yousuf Azeemi
often heard people saying, "What has Pakistan given to
us", but I may ask them one question, as to what they have
contributed to their country." These were the words of late Mir
Khalil-ur-Rahman, a selfless and staunch worker for Pakistan, an
unparalleled journalist and a trendsetter in Urdu journalism.
Khalil-ur-Rahman had a multi-faceted personality with high
qualities; a lot can be learnt and practised by studying his life
The whole life of
Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman is a beacon of light for those who wish to
start their career for achieving high standards. When Mir
Khalil-ur-Rahman began his career he had neither any capital nor
past experience in journalism. He did not come from any family
engaged in this profession. His only capital was sheer determination
and zeal to work hard.
Today, Jang group is the largest organisation in Urdu journalism. It was in the decade of 1940 when the movement for Pakistan was in full swing. He founded Jang at Delhi with meagre resources and within much unfavourable condition. At that time the number of Urdu newspapers was very negligible whereas the pro-Congress Hindu newspapers were in large numbers and with plentiful of resources. In such a state Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman started his pro-Pakistan journalistic career and started to serve the mission led by Quaid-i-Azam and Muslim League. The Jang within its limited scope began countering the anti-Muslim propaganda unleashed by the Hindu Congress, and there came a time when the ruling British government displeased by Mir Saheb's writings, put him behind the bars for some time.
After the creation
of Pakistan, Jang began its publication from Karachi, but here also
the environment for a free and fair expression for the newspaper was
not conducive. After the death of Quaid-i-Azam and Liaquat Ali Khan
there was a political turmoil, no constitution for the country could
be framed, and the newspapers could not play the role which was
required to guide a nation towards the right goal. After creation of
Pakistan, unfortunately the press remained under strict censor,
enforced by the civil and military rulers.
of Press Ordinance was a black spot for a free Press. Coercive
methods were adopted to gag the press were used like curtailing the
newsprint paper and stoppage of advertisements. However, Jang under
the editorship of Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman phase by phase advanced
towards its good and finally became the largest circulated
newspaper, with public voice reigning supreme. It remained outside
the government influence and thus commanded public respect and
Mir Sahib however
had to face the wrath of rulers like Ayub Khan, General Yahya, Z A
Bhutto, General Ziaul Haq, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, but he
stood firm during all these adversaries.
I first met Mir
Khalil-ur-Rahman in 1980 during martial law, when strict
pre-publication censorship was imposed on the newspapers. Mir
Khalil-ur-Rahman strongly participated in the efforts for lifting
the censorship. In 1985, as a result of party-less polls, a
democratic government came into being and Mohammad Khan Junejo
became its first Prime Minister. During his government,
Press comparatively fared better, because he did not adopt
the coercive methods to gag the Press, but still the Press Ordinance
remained in force. At last this PPO was withdrawn during the
presidentship of Ghulam Ishaque Khan.
Mir Sahib had the
God-gifted quality of sensing things in advance and this is one of
basic reasons behind the success of Jang . Today, Jang has more than
twelve sister publications, which are taken out from five cities of
Pakistan. Jang has yet achieved another milestone by establishing
Geo TV. A great number of viewers within and outside the country
have appreciated its programmes.
Mir Sahib was elected the President of APNS nine times. This
was a singular honour for Mir Sahib. He worked tirelessly as
President of the APNS, for more freedom of expression for the
newspapers. He always treated the smaller papers with due kindness
Mir Sahib was a
staunch believer in Islam and feared Allah, he had intense love and
regard for the Holy Prophet (PBUH). He was a patriot to the hilt,
and used to say that his position was solely due to Pakistan. Had
not there been Pakistan, Jang could not have been the largest
circulated Urdu newspaper.
M Yakoob: One of the reasons for the deteriorating condition of our libraries is that the 'Book Bank' scheme started earlier flopped. Another reason is the incorrect utilisation of funds earmarked for libraries. Most of the public libraries are functioning through public donations. So the requisition of funds for such libraries is the main problem.
Malahat Karim Sherwani: Although there are some public libraries here but it has been observed that people choose to go to libraries run by NGOs; these libraries meet the requirements of the students, who look for books on their curricula, and research works. Liaquat Library once catered to the need of such people, but now it is not the same. Many other libraries are utilised only as reading venues. The Karachi University library cannot be called an up-to-date library. One of the poor attendance in our libraries could be attributed to the introduction of the Internet service on computers.
Kaiser Zaidi: The causes for the deterioration in the government-managed libraries is due to inefficient management and lack of funds. The steady rise in the prices of books is also one of the reasons for the lack of public interest. I have made an offer that if anybody is eager to run a public library I shall contribute ten thousand books from my side. I have held 'Book Fairs' year after year and allowed a discount up to 60 percent, only in order to promote readership, and I got ample encouragement.
Prof Anwar Ahmed Zai: Henceforth all the expenditures in this connection would be channelled through the city government and the expenditure would be regularly audited.
Masood Ahmed Barkati: In my opinion one of the steps to promote readership is to establish 'book kiosks' at bus stops, as 'adopted' in many foreign countries. The book publishers could do this; if somebody likes any book he would buy it. Our existing libraries should try to make it up-to-date, by supplementing their shelves with the latest books.
Shafiqur Rahman Piracha: First of all we should agree that there is no reliable scale for measuring the quantum of public readership i.e. how many people used to read books in the past and how many are engaged at present, yet I have a feeling that one of the reasons for lack of public interest in readership may be due to the presence of computers and VCRs and also the specialnewspaper editions that are published for every Sunday. Another factor according to me is the shortage of good book shops. I also feel that better training for librarians is a must for the maintenance of good libraries. Also it would be good if boards are installed in front of libraries where readers could write their needs for books.
Prof Anwar Ahmed Zai: The effects of bribery - which is rampant in every section of our society - has also 'found' its way to infect this section also, it would therefore be very much necessary to establish a concentrated system of auditing concerning the expenditures of public libraries.
"I also feel that 'Book Fairs' which are held here from time to time cannot be alternatives for public libraries, broadly speaking these cannot serve the public interest at large. The foremost need to inculcate readership is to establish libraries from the levels of schools and colleges and in this regard the education department must ensure the establishment of such libraries in the educational institutions. I would go even one step further and advise the school and college administrators to give extra marks to those students who are regular visitors to their libraries of schools and colleges."
To read good books and develop one's keenness to broaden the horizon of knowledge, language, pronunciation as well as add more words to one's vocabulary. In my view, even computers, electronic games and the Internet can prove to be vistas that can be utislised properly to widen one's scope for reading. The PC and the Internet can also be used to improve one's reading habits as many sites have special "electronic editions."
the Forum on 'libraries'
Sr Director, Humdard
National Book Foundation
Library Information Department,
Chairman, Wellcome Book Port
By Abdul Hameed Chhapra
When the founding fathers, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Quaid-i-Millat Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan and their trusted and dedicated colleagues were busy in putting newly created country on the rails with very meagre resources the print media of Pakistan, particularly the Urdu newspapers started their journey afresh from the scratch after the Independence on August 14, 1947.
Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman had launched the publication of the Daily Jang from New Delhi with the help, support and assistance of his faithful comrades including Syed Mohammad Taqi, Raees Amrohvi, Yusuf Siddiqui and others during the Second World War (1939-45), in the early 1940s.
Like other Muslim papers, Daily Jang also played a prominent role in the independence struggle. It used to regularly publish the point of view of the All India Muslim League on various issues.
Just after the division of the sub-continent, Daily Jang was among a couple of newspapers which migrated from the seat of power of undivided India and started publication from the first capital of Pakistan, Karachi (1947-59).
From the very beginning a fierce competition started among the newspapers to attract more and more readers by providing them maximum news, views and other reading material. The idea was to achieve the widest number of readership along with increasing the circulation.
Syed Mohammad Taqi, Raees Amrohvi, Yusuf Siddiqui, Inam Aziz, Athar Ali and Shafi Aqeel were the main members of Jang's creative team during the formative stage and as a result of their combined efforts under the dynamic leadership of Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman, Jang became the leading newspaper of Pakistan within a few years. And it has succeeded in maintaining its edge over its contemporaries even after eleven years of Mir Saheb's demise.
Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman had an insatiable urge to publish authentic local, national and international news.
Apart from collecting credible news from various sources Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman wanted to attract each and every member of the family as well as all sections of society in his newspaper by publishing articles of their interest. Separate pages for women, children, students first appeared in Jang; later on the contemporary newspapers also started publishing such pages.Special editions on the birth and death anniversaries of the national heroes -- Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan, Allama Iqbal, Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar, Maulana Hasrat Mohani, Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar were published regularly in Jang.
Apart from national days like Independence anniversaries on August 14, Pakistan Day on 23rd March, and on the occasions of Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Azha, Yaum-e-Aashoor (10th of Muharram), Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi (SAW), regular weekly Islami pages and Tafseerul Quran by one of the greatest Muslim scholars Maulana Ehteshamul Haq Thanvi on every Friday.
Weekly psychological problems column by Raees Amrohvi and reviews of Pakistani, Indian and foreign books used to be published.
Jang had the honour of publishing the biographies of a number of Quaid-i-Azam's trusted colleagues including Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar and former prime minister of Pakistan Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy.
Special editions were published on the occasions of the official visits of the heads of state and heads of government like US President Richard Nixon, Shahinshah of Iran Reza Shah Pahelvi (who was overthrown during the great upsurge by the Iranian people under the dynamic leadership of Imam Ayatullah Ruhullah Khomeini in 1979) and others.
For children's interest Jang used to daily publish the syndicated cartoon of Tarzan and for Youths Jane Dollinger's illustrated adventure's series on every Sunday for several years.
Septuagenarian senior journalist and celebrated writer Shafi Aqeel had the good fortune of having been actively associated with Jang Group (the biggest chain of newspapers) for more than five decades. He joined Daily Jang Karachi in May 1950 as a member of the editorial staff and after serving in various capacities including Magazine Editor, retired as the Editor Akhbar-e-Jehan a couple of years ago.
Shafi Aqeel is of the view that the biggest contribution of Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman was that he encouraged a whole generation of talented writers and poets through his newspaper.
Shafi Aqeel apart from being the Editor of Monthly "Bhai Jan" also served as the in-charge of "Naunehal League" the most popular section of the newspaper among the students and young and upcoming writers.
The creative talent of the several prominent Urdu writers and poets was developed during their association as contributors in Bhai Jan and as the members of Naunehal League.
The luminaries of Urdu literature were encouraged through timely publication of their articles and poetic creations in Jang in 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. For eleven years Bhai Jan served the budding writers and the seekers of knowledge among the people of all ages.
Baba-e-Urdu Maulvi Abdul Haq, Maulana Abdul Majeed Salik and Maulana Chiragh Hasan Hasrat had praised and welcomed the publication of Bhai Jan in 1951. However, when Bhai Jan ceased its publication in 1962 due to technical reasons the shining stars of Urdu literature, Ismat Chughtai and Hajira Masroor, expressed their disappointment.
Apart from being instrumental in the preparation of a new crop of writers Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman also succeeded in getting regular contribution for Jang from some of the great poets, writers and columnists of the country including Shair-e-Inquilab Josh Malihabadi, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Hafeez Jallundhry, Sirajuddin Zafar, Mahshar Badayuni, Adeeb Saharanpuri, Tabish Dehlavi, Athar Nafees, Karrar Noori, Sehba Akhtar, Akhtar Ansari Akbarabadi, Raees Amrohvi, Majeed Lahori, Shaukat Thanvi, Z.A. Bukhari, Ibrahim Jalees, Pir Ali Mohammad Rashedi, Niaz Fatehpuri, Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, Nasrullah Khan, Shafi Aqeel, Inam Durrani, Jamiluddin Aali and Ibne Insha.
In order to collect literary gems for the information and education of the readers Mir Saheb strived continuously. Perhaps that is the reason he is remembered by all and sundry.
Rahman might not be a well-known name to many, but should somebody
say Mrs Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman, it takes on a certain significance,
especially to those acquainted with Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman (MKR), a
man of imposing stature in the journalistic world of the
an interview with Bari Begum Sahiba as she is lovingly called by
intimate friends and contemporaries, was probably the most difficult
task I had ever been assigned for this annual retrospective on MKR.
Begum Sahiba simply refused to give any interview on account of the
fact that her late husband never wanted her to appear in the Press.
So I discussed the matter with her loving grandson Ibrahim Rahman,
who persuaded her and insisted that she share the fond memories of
MKR, and, surprisingly, she finally relented.
Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman is considered an icon in Pakistan's journalistic history, so doing his memory justice filled me with a certain apprehension. So did meeting Mrs Mir Kahlil-ur-Rahman, who according to many, is considered a very strict lady, who does not suffer fools gladly. However, I was embraced by a very graceful lady in her late 60s, with a broad smiling face. She arrived to meet me in a bright drawing room she had decorated herself. Her face was reflective of her long journey filled with sheer hard work and dedication. After exchanging formalities, which were very polite but firm in manner, she once more showed her apprehensions about the interview, the first ever in any newspaper. Ultimately, she gave in with a slight nod of her head. Interestingly, Rukhsana Qazi, daughter of MKR, who was on a short trip to Pakistan also participated in the interview along with Mir Javed Rahman, the elder son of MKR, his wife Ghazala Javed-ur-Rahman, and, Mrs Shaheena, wife of Mir Shakeel-ur-Rahman. Each uniquely shared their own special memories about MKR.
moving down memory lane, the family and specially Mrs Mir
Khalil-ur-Rahman, had great many things to say about the person who
was of great importance in her life. Her composed and careful
conversation many times brought tears in her eyes, while describing
any thing sentimental and touching about MKR.
her husband's personality, Mrs Khalil said: "He used to come at
11.00 p m and after dinner, he would read mails coming from around
the world for him. Answering each letter was a routine he maintained
until his death. At that time he had a radio which could catch 24
stations and he would monitor all important news. He would take
notes and then phone his paper's reporters, asking them whether they
have that particular news or not, which he had just monitored. On
finding the answer in negative, he would simply narrate the news,
without expressing anger in his manner for that reporter. It was his
way of making people understand the importance of media. This
routine, of which he never tired, would continue till 2.30 a m after
which he would go to bed. He always derived pleasure from his work.
Despite the fact he could hardly find a break from his busy
schedule, even then he could manage to read other newspapers. He
remained an avid reader of some of his fondest books which included
translations of the Holy Quran, biographies and other books on
history, literature and poetry. On holidays, he would sit in his
reading room and besides completing his weekly work he would write
notes and read books and newspapers. Only sometimes he would seem
worried, like if he received any threatening call from political and
religious groups, or when the government had put a ban on
advertisements but I would always console him by saying that these
governments will come and go. 'Since you are doing your work
honestly, then you do not need to be afraid of any body. Allah
Almighty will be with you.' The night before his death, he was very
restless. I still remember, he was speaking with his hands by
touching and caressing them lovingly, and mumbling these words.
"In hatoon nay bohat kam kiya hay, mein nay inhain araam nahin
karwaya.... (These hands have worked a lot, I never gave them rest.)
And in the moments before his death, he was semi-conscious, even at
that point he was talking with his office staff asking them about
the copy, the news items and all sorts of sentences related to the
production of the paper," she said.
Qazi, MKR's daughter, while recollecting her thoughts about his
departure for hospital for operation said: "We were fully
prepared to leave for hospital and were standing outside our house
in London waiting to get in the car. Suddenly, he stopped and raised
his hands in prayer to Allah, with the same symbolic smile on his
face, recited something and blew at the house quietly and then
prayed to Allah for his safe surgery and healthy return home. While
on his way to the hospital, he stopped at the Islamic Centre and
prayed again with compassion in his face and we felt for the first
time that he was tired."
on an arrival from Islamabad, on January 10, he was looking very
smart, handsome and energetic having been on a special diet. Ashraf
Qazi, my husband, observed: 'Mir Sahib, you are looking very smart',
and he said in response: 'Yaar, mujhay iss operation say bachalo,
(save me from this operation), I am feeling perfectly all right.
Psychologically, meanwhile, he took his diagnosis very seriously and
while in America he said to the doctor: 'I think I will not
to Mir Javed Rahman, Mir Sahib was an avid guardian of his own
health. Gargling with salt water was his routine before going to
bed. He always felt concerned when he saw somebody coughing. He
would insist on finding a remedy and would not rest until the person
Sahib was a dynamic soul, always doing something or the other for
his children. "Despite his hectic and busy schedule I don't
remember any cultural show which we children ever missed and even
now we are hooked on these shows", said Rukhsana. "He took
us to all Chinese and Russian cultural shows not to mention the
cinema house, where he would go cheerily with the whole family.
Going with him, while he himself drove the car, to have ice cream or
to see the illuminations in the city on national occasions, was our
absolute delight. These activities inculcated a strong national
spirit in all of us."
Khalil-ur-Rahman had deep love hidden in his persona for his
children. He displayed an equal love for all the children and
grandchildren and probably this is one of the reasons that all of us
think individually that Daddy loved 'me' a lot. He could not see any
child crying. We all used to scold our children in seclusion--away
from our father," said Rukhsana.
an individual, Mir Sahib was bestowed with a very refined nature. He
was meticulous about himself and the cleanliness of his
surroundings. Almost all the family members had something to say
about this quality of his. Mrs Khalil says: "Most of the time
it happened that he was leaving for the office and suddenly he saw
some dust on a decorative item. He would simply call me to bring a
duster, and would clean it. Honestly speaking, that moment would
simply give me the jitters knowing that my housekeeping was faulty.
He never spoke a word on such occasions, never showed any anger, but
that simple action was enough to make us more vigilant the next
says: "Once I was with Daddy, when he went to attend a
Commonwealth Conference. This was the first time I went abroad with
him and I was really surprised to find him doing his own laundry
every night and wearing fresh clothes in the morning. I was really
impressed. Despite the fact that he could afford luxurious things,
he preferred to stay in comfortable and economical hotels and would
travel in tubes and buses."
said: "He used to say that this is the hard earned foreign
exchange of immigrants Pakistanis and we should be careful.
Secondly, he would always quote verses from Holy Quran that everyone
has to be answerable to Allah Almighty for all the bounties He
bestowed on us. He was very concerned about waste. Petrol, car,
telephone, electricity, these things are used in a very careful
manner in our house even today and Daddy has a lot to do in forming
these habits in us. We can not throw away scraps of paper, even
envelopes. He used to recycle paper."
Khalil says MKR would even re-use rubber bands, which came with PIA
tags. "I still have those rubber bands with me. He used to
receive letters which were usually written on the reverse side of
Javed-ur-Rahman reminisced further about MKR: "I will always
remember Mir Sahib's prayers which he used to shower on me, whenever
I did something for him. He hated lies throughout his life. He was
never particular about food. Even if he did not like the food he
never spoke a word in protest. He was never annoyed with any one of
Shaheena, wife of Mir Shakeel-ur-Rahman, relived memories of her
father-in-law: "He used to call me daily at home to ask about
the children. He used to advise me on their upbringing. It was he
who selected the names of all my children and even for my younger
son who was born after his death, he had already selected his name.
He was a man of few words and was very careful while conversing with
others. He gave me a copy of the Holy Quran, which I still have.
Despite the fact that I did not know how to cook, he always ate my
food with no objection!"
was gifted with a special aesthetic sense and a refined sense of
humour, liking for good writings came natural to him. Rukhsana
recalls: "Once while with him in America after his first
operation, he started discussing Mirza Ghalib and recited his
popular couplets alongwith translations and descriptions and I could
not control my tears. He used to teach his grandchildren everything
about national days, the Islamic calendar and festivals. He loved
Ghalib's docu-drama Mirza Ghalib and would watch it with much
delight. He used to write Quranic translations for his paper so a
copy of the Holy Quran was always with him. He had kept certain
translations for his paper which were printed after his death."
says: "He used to select translations in such a way that these
would always correlate to any important news or event of that
MKR recalled with great grief in her eyes that, "He was
planning for the following year's June before his death, because
Jang London was completing 21 years of its publication. He had asked
Ashraf Qazi to arrange for tickets for his daughters because he
wanted all the family to be there on that occasion. He said to me:
'After the operation, we both will go for Umra, after which, Ramazan
will come and you know I always spend Ramazan at home.' He always
spent Ramazan at home and never accepted any invitation for any
added: "Usually he would not be available at the dinning table
but in Ramazan he was always at home. He would happily lay the table
and sit with all of us. This was the reason that all of us would
prefer to be at home at that time to capture the pleasure of that
Kahlil while recollecting said: "Once we were going to the
wedding in Lahore and Jang Lahore was just launched. Ibrahim Rahman,
then four, was sitting in his lap. Suddenly, he heaved a sigh, on
which Ibrahim asked: 'What happened Daddo' and he replied: 'I always
ask your father (Mir Shakeel-ur-Rahman) to make a room for himself
at the office, and take a nap everyday but he does not listen to
me.' To which Ibrahim retorted: 'Daddo kamal kartay hein aap, jab
maalik hi so jaen tau naukar tau loot kar lay jaen gey' (how can you
suggest such a thing, if the owner sleeps, the servant will go off
with everything). MKR with a sense of pride got his grandson to
repeat that sentence many times over while hugging him, kissing him
and being much amused with this answer."
Mir Sahib have any separate ideas for the education of his sons and
daughters? On this question Rukhsana said: "He used to sign our
reports and would argue on each and every subject and the marks we
obtained. He would nod his head in a characteristic manner if we
secured low marks. We used to be so afraid of his piercing eyes.
Once in grade six, I underachieved in Maths and he was so concerned
that he called Aziz Sahib who was in the Education Department and
discussed my studies with him. I wanted to tell him that the reason
for my weak report was that my teacher was not good at her subject
but I could not tell him. He wanted to give good education to all of
his children according to their aptitude. Being an alert man, he was
aware of the inclination of every child."
always disapproved of domestic politics or any confrontation at
home. He lovingly used to gather all the family members at his
residence and loved a peaceful environment at his home. "We had
freedom to go with Daddy or Ammi to parties and weddings. He liked
us to properly dress up and wear make up and jewellery. He was very
forward-thinking and wanted everybody to be modern but remember our
Qazi saw her father as a visionary. He was a futuristic.
"Whenever he went abroad, he used to observe enviously the
progress of the West and would like to emulate in his own country.
He had a great role in propagating and safeguarding Urdu as
language. When the then government said that all the provinces will
have their own languages, he responded with magnificent retort in
the daily Jang with a hard-hitting headline and a black border
saying: 'Urdu ka janaza hai zara dhoom say niklay' (it's the funeral
of Urdu, let the cortege roll!). This headline became so famous that
people still remember it and the Urdu speaking community came closer
due to him."
always encouraged his daughters to use their talents. His elder
daughter used to make a fashion page for women for the paper and his
younger daughter also used to write. He gave them the liberty to
express their ideas and take part in active journalism.
concluding I asked Mrs MKR that as they say "there is always a
woman behind the success of a man," would you take credit for
all the success of Mir Sahib? "No", she responded
instantly. "It was his own sheer hard work which enabled him to
attain this legendary status. He was a wonderful man. I never saw
such a person in my life. He was a loving father and friend to
me." While she was saying all this, her daughter and
daughters-in-law just said in unison: "No Ammi has a great role
to play in all this. She kept things peaceful and right for him at
home. She knew him to the core and created an environment, which
gave him peace of mind, a must for a creative and dedicated
As they say "Home is where the heart is" Begum Sahiba and her family retain the principles of Mir Sahib whose presence is still felt in their home and the way they lead their lives.
is generous man. He is not like other adults. He has never
reprimanded anyone. If he thinks someone is doing something
wrong he will gently explain it to that person. He understands
me more than other people and cares for everyone. Whenever I
am in trouble I can always count on him! He is my grandfather.
My grandfather is very kind and polite. He always lets me sleep in his room when I wish. He never gets angry and even if he does he doesn't show. He has gotten sick lots of time but he doesn't show other people that he is in pain because he doesn't want anyone to worry. He speaks gently and clearly. I always understand him.
is very religious, always see him reading the Holy Quran at night. I
always sit down near him and listen recite the Holy Words. His sweet
soothing voice makes me go to sleep.
grandfather cares about his country a lot. More than anyone I know.
I guess because he was one of the pioneers who worked hard in
developing this nation. He went through all the hardships. It hurts
him to see when a part of the nation is breaking in front of his
grandfather is very wise. Everybody relies and takes advantage of
his advice. Lots of people like him. He has lots of friends.
Whenever we go to weddings, people are always crowding around him to
talk to him and listen to his witty remarks mainly about politics
because he is a journalist.
though my grandfather lives in Karachi I am extremely attached to
him. If I don't phone him everyday he feels disheartened. Sometimes
I forget to call him and think that I will loose my attachment with
him. He has never hurt a living thing as far as I know.
grandfather is getting old but doesn't show it like. Earlier he used
to do lots of activities with me but now he seems sad and gloomy,
but he still goes to his office and sometimes plays soccer with all
his family members.
I hope to be like my grandfather someday. I love him. He means a lot to me.
article on the left was written by me almost 14 years ago for Mrs.
Malick, my 6th grade English teacher in Lahore for a school paper.
It was later also used in a book commemorating my grandfather's 50
years in journalism. I thought it might be a good idea to update it,
today, on his 11th death anniversary.
children have better insight than we give them credit for. I could
pretty much describe his as well as I can now. But that could also
be because my grandfather was a very easy man to understand. For a
growing child, my grandfather was a great hero and an ideal role
model to have because he was so simple. A role model with hardly any
contradictions is hard to find these days.
My grandfather's life can be broken into 3 subparts: country, religion and family. These were things he loved and cared about, but these parts were tied in by a greater force and passion....his work. My grandfather worked a lot. Even on his deathbed, in those last days in a hospital bed in London, he was staying up nights to complete the translations of the Quran that were published in the front pages of his newspapers. During those days, my grandmother tells me, he repeatedly paused and looked at his hands, turning them and analyzing them, and feeling them again and again. My grandmother thinks he did that thinking of how much those hands had worked in his life.
In many ways my grandfather is very much still here. His love and commitment for the country and the well being of its people can be seen in the people whose lives he touched and in the institution he left behind. The institution continues to reach and affect people, educating, informing and even entertaining them. After the time of independence, a national voice was needed and this voice found expression through Jang. What was started as a newspaper reporting news about the struggle/jang for independence and the Second World War evolved into an institution dedicated to waging war against illiteracy, ignorance, intolerance and corruption. Perhaps one of his greatest contributions was inculcating reading habits in Pakistan, especially in URDU, a language he was passionately in love with.
Fridays that I spent with my grandfather began with prayers and
ended up in his study where we would read and discuss what was
happening in the country. I remember one Friday afternoon we were
disturbed by a gentleman in his mid-40s who shouted and screamed his
way through the house and guards, claiming how close he was to 'Mir
Sahib'. When he finally found him, he started emotionally recalling
events and names, trying to link himself in some way with my
grandfather. My grandfather hesitated for a second and then hugged
him and tried to greet him with as much emotion. But during the
embrace he passed a smile and a shrug at me, meaning he didn't know
who the guy was.
friend of his once told me describing him, "Bara Admi wo hota
hai, jo chotay ko apney chotay pan ka ehsas na dillae" .
My grandfather made everyone feel very special. I remember when he died, it felt very odd that so many people should make a big deal about it. My mother remembers me trying to be very rude to the tens of thousands of people at his Janazah, pushing and shoving them away to keep close to his casket. I guess I almost felt cheated when I saw how deeply he was loved and cared for by others as well: his employees, his family and countrymen shared so many stories about him that day, stories which revealed what a great father, husband, grandfather, brother, leader, patriot, philosopher and philanthropist he was. I thought only I knew what a great man he was. I thought he was my secret. I guess I wasn't the only one who needed a role model and a hero.
ideas, innovations, continuous improvement, everyday a step forward
and to stay on top were the characteristics of the man called Mir
Khalil-ur-Rahman. At a time he was an outstanding journalist, an
enterprising entrepreneur, a visionary media man, a futurist, a good
teacher, a quick learner and an extraordinary human being. In this
piece we will explore his role regarding introduction of new
technologies and innovations in the field of print media.
Sahib started his journalistic career
in New Delhi during the 2nd World War and his name was
appeared as Editor of an Urdu daily newspaper Jang in a report sent
by the Chief Commissioner of Delhi to government of UK in 1941. He
started publishing daily Jang from Karachi in October 15, 1947 as an
eveninger of four (4) pages having six columns on each page. He
converted it into a morninger from February 5, 1948 and increased
its pages to six (6) and added a weekly magazine of 10 pages. The
size of newspaper again increased on August 25, 1965, then it had
eight (8) pages with eight (8) columns each. During the same period
he brought an edition of Jang from Rawalpindi (November 13, 1959)
and an English eveninger Daily News from Karachi (October 17, 1962).
Daily News was the first newspaper of Pakistan, which was published
on offset. He was attentively watching the changes in newspaper
printing technology in the region as well as all over the world. He
always had a strong desire to acquire latest technologies being
practised at that time anywhere in the world. He always strived for
adopting new technologies before anyone else in the region could do
that. He single-handedly steered the boat of Urdu journalism into
modern era to compete with the newspapers of any language. He was in
fact Pulitzer and Rupert Murdock of Urdu journalism. He started
colour printing in 1958. Jang was the first newspaper in Pakistan,
which started colour printing in its own printing press. Its Sunday
editions were started colour printing in during early 1950s. There
were only few people in the market who were well-versed in the field
of colour printing, separation and designing. Mir Sahib obtained
their services for his newspaper.
1971, he bought a fast rotary four-unit printing machine called
" Colour King". This was the first machine which was being
acquired by any newspaper owner in Pakistan at that time. Jang was
again the first newspaper in Pakistan, which purchased a four-colour
possessed a natural quest for innovations and adopt new things.
During his foreign visits, he always took out some time to pay
visits to newspaper organisations and their presses to learn as to
what advanced technologies they were using. Finding something
interesting, he would explore possibilities of bringing those
technologies for his newspaper.
Mir Sahib's eagerness for staying on top did not limited to the use of modern printing technologies but he also experimented and adopted new layouts and designs as well as pre-press innovations. It was his dream since beginning that Urdu newspaper should be published with the help of machine type setting instead of hand calligraphy. He was always in search of people who can materialise his dream. He also experimented with typing some portions of daily Jang in Naskh Urdu type in 1961 but the script was not liked by most of the readers, so he gave up the idea. He had strong yearnings to find someone who could do this work for Urdu language. In the beginning of 1964, Tamannai had designed an Urdu Nastaliq font. Linotype company of London had prepared a type based on this font for machine composing. In fact, Mr Tamannai was encouraged and helped by Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman for developing this Nastaliq type font. This type font was partly used by Jang for composing some of its pages on experimental basis. However, this was not liked much by the readers and Jang had to retain its " litho" printing.
dream of Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman came true in early 80s when Noori
Nastaliq was designed by Ahmed Jamil Mirza and Mir Sahib joined
hands with him to finance this historical project. The monotype
company of London manufactured this computerised laser composing
systems. The daily Jang Lahore was the first Urdu newspaper of the
world which acquired this most modern pre-press production
technology and created history. His eagerness and love for new
technology was never ending. He
was pioneer in Urdu journalism in printing photographs, cartoons,
Tarzan strips and in use of Tele-printers, Telex, Fax and Scanners
etc. It was one of his dreams to bring out an English newspaper from
Pakistan, which can compete with foreign English newspapers in its
production as well as in content. In early '90s he started working
on this plan, his son Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was the In-charge of this
project. The News was launched on February 11, 1991. Not only the
theme of this newspaper was unique in the region but the technology
used for bringing out The News simultaneously from three cities of
Pakistan was also unique. The state-of-the art technology of Apple
Macintosh Desk Top Publishing System was first time used in this
region by any newspaper. It was the last major project of Mir
breathed his last on January 25, 1992 but his sprit is alive and
Jang never stopped in acquiring and adopting new technologies and
maintaining its pioneering position in media industry of Pakistan. I
quote here two paragraphs from the Editorial of first Edition of The
News, which depicts the aims he remained busy during his whole life
to achieve. In fact his biggest love was Pakistan. "The first
step we are taking today is also a big leap forward for the
newspaper industry in this country. It is a quantum leap into the
future: this newspaper is being brought out from five cities. We are
publishing simultaneously from Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad and are
all set to step across mountains and oceans to stamp our presence in
London and New York. This induction of the most modern technology
is, in a sense, an affirmation of our approach towards change and
progress. We must move forward. As a new century beckons us to new
challenges, we have t keep pace, even ahead of the future".
"Beginnings always almost breed optimism and hope. A massive investment of the kind that this enterprise represents and the human effort that has gone into its operation should be seen as a show of confidence in the future of our country. Yes, we are incorrigibly upbeat about the potential that this enterprise confirms in so many different areas. The News is aiming to find a place for Pakistan in the international media".
have today, on the death anniversary of Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman, one
more occasion to recount the life and achievements of a man whose
shadow will forever loom large on Pakistan's media scene. And what
those of us who were fortunate to have known him or have met him
even once fondly remember is his genial and kindhearted presence.
But his memory is enshrined, in a living sense, in the media group
that he had founded. A true measure of his accomplishment is that
Jang, the newspaper that launched a thousand media dreams, is now a
fact, Jang became an obvious choice in a list of national icons to
be explored and studied by students of Indus Valley School of Art
and Architecture and the Visual Studies Department of the University
of Karachi. This Design Project was conceived and supervised by
Saima Zaidi, who teaches design at both institutions. The idea is to
compile a book on design and visual vernacular in the sub-continent,
particularly in urban Pakistan. Students have conducted their own
research on selected design icons and the proposed book, to be
published this year, will be a collection of critical essays on this
Saima Zaidi has brought together writers, media people, architects, artists, anthropologists, designers and advertisers to provide graphic design criticism, "aiming to appreciate or help understand design as part of a larger social, commercial and cultural context". The design critics are expected to address the problem of values and interpret the meaning of a particular design in terms of the evolution of culture and our ability to confront environmental and sociological issues. Jang, as a newspaper, is reading matter. But the idea of Jang, as an institution and icon, is so much more. Design student Sharjeel Ahmad selected Jang as a consequential manifestation of our visual literacy. Hence, the focus was on the masthead of the newspaper as a symbol. It was an easy option for him because he had been aware of it since his early childhood in Karachi. It used to be there, in his house, every morning. It was for him, in some incomprehensible manner, a messenger from a mysterious world.
newspaper, when you read it every day, becomes a habit, almost a
friend. For Sharjeel, Jang first became his friend in a visual
sense. He saw it day after day. It became familiar, even with its
dark and cluttered layout. Now that he has grown up and is a design
student, he may want to quarrel with this layout. But it remains a
part of the identity that Jang is and this identity is projected by
the logo itself.
research, Sharjeel has compiled a chronology of the newspaper,
identifying some interesting landmarks. By way of providing a
perspective, there is a brief chapter on Mir Sahib, in the form
personal recollection by a former editorial employee. There is,
naturally, considerable stress on the calligraphic history of the
logo. This logo has changed a number of times and here is a gallery
of Jang logos and the accompanying embellishments. It is a student's
academic exercise and the history of Jang, in the context of design
and layout, is not comprehensive. Still, Sharjeel has collected a
lot of information through research and interviews. Particular
attention has been devoted to the development of calligraphy and
script during the past more than five decades, in the framework of
advancement in printing technology.
An interesting feature of the study are illustrations from earlier issues, providing evidence that like the world that it has reported, the newspaper itself has constantly been changing. At the same time, it has remained faithful to the founding principles of Mir Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman. That is why Jang is an icon. A design that acquires the stature of an icon becomes a communication element intended to represent an entire package that may include a person (in this case, the memory of Mir Sahib), a process and an idea. Icons are devices by which ideas that are normally very complex are transmitted between people sharing a common culture or interest. The logo of Jang incorporates many different thoughts and impressions, depending on how one looks at the newspaper. But it would convey only one message when seen as a symbol of Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman's journalistic aspirations. And that message, without any doubt, is of success and victory.
Mir Khalilur Rahman, the creator and builder of the popular Jang Group of newspapers in Pakistan, was one of the most versatile and successful newspaper publishers in Asia. Basically a dynamic journalist who had a passion for reporting all through his exciting life, he set new trends in journalism and newspaper management and harnessed the new print technology to give his newspapers the power of mass circulation and a hefty advertising revenue most of which he ploughed back into their qualitative improvement and raising the pay scales of his employees.
He was proud of his humble origin in pre-partition Delhi when he founded the Jang in the early 1940s, largely to contribute to Muslim India's struggle for establishing Pakistan, under Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's inspiring leadership.
Saheb was a self-made Muslim newspaper entrepreneur in war-time
Delhi; he was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He started
the Jang in Urdu with faith in God and the support of the Muslim
masses who had put their life and soul in the Pakistan Movement. He
had no opulent godfathers like the rich Birlas and Dalmias who
funded Hindu newspapers to promote the cause of the Hindu-dominated
Congress and oppose the Muslims' Pakistan-demand.
in cold wintry mornings in Delhi, I used to cycle to my office to
oversee the local distribution of the Jang and its prompt dispatch
to our agents in places beyond Delhi", Mir Sahib said to me on
PIA's inaugural Super-Constellation flight to London in 1954, with
the then Prime Minister Mohammad Ali Bogra on board as the Guest of
Honour. In London, Mir Saheb lost no time in arranging for the 'creeding'
to Jang in Karachi of his report on the PIA flight and the remarks
of the then Prime Minister of Pakistan. "Jang's readers must
have this story quickly and first-hand", Mir Sahib said.
when the Jang Group's fortunes soared in circulation and advertising
revenue, Mir Khalilur Rahman retained his innate modesty and a touch
of humility. Affluent newspaper owners often shun going to press
conferences with reporter's notebooks, leaving the assignment to
their young reporters. Mir Sahib's passion for reporting for his
newspapers never waned and I recall many press conferences of the
high and mighty which he covered together with his reporters and
beefed up their reportage with his own interesting coverage. One of
his masterpieces was his coverage in the Jang of his China tour in
1956 as a member of a Pakistan Press Delegation (in which I was also
included and Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Poet and Editor of 'The Pakistan
Times' was its leader.)
Beijing, soon after our meeting with Prime Minister Chou en Lai, Mir
Khalilur Rahman visited the office of an influential Chinese daily
and saw its printing plant also.
Saheb once told me that as a young journalist in Delhi with the Jang,
he never missed any meeting addressed by the Quaid-i-Azam. "He
was my hero and we gave him and the Pakistan Movement top place in
our news coverage," Mir Sahib said to me during one of his
periodic visits to London (where I served as Minister for
Information at our Embassy between 1978 and 1986. Although he had
just then recovered from an illness, which required hospitalisation
for some days, he readily agreed to be one of the speakers in a
Pakistan Day meeting in London in 1984.
spoke of his memories of the Pakistan Movement and on the masterly
leadership the Quaid-i-Azam. Mir Saheb and his Jang in Delhi
followed the Quaid-i-Azam to Karachi in August 1947 to greet the
birth of Pakistan. He handpicked the team with which he launched the
Jang in Karachi; he looked for devoted Urdu-writing journalists who
had a sense of dedication to Pakistan and believed in the
righteousness of the cause espoused by the Quaid-i-Azam for the
Muslims in the subcontinent. Mir Sahib was magnanimous in forgiving
an erring employee but he would not tolerate disloyalty to Pakistan
by anyone in his team. After all, Jang was one of Pakistan's
earliest heralds and Mir Sahib never veered away from that role.
Jang's editorials, while defending Pakistan's ideological frontiers,
were at times sharply critical of governmental actions, which in his
view offended the public's interest or the common weal. In the early
1950s, the then Federal Home Minister, Khwaja Shahabuddin tried to
put pressure on newspapers not to subscribe to a non-government
Pakistani news service because of its heavy coverage of Opposition
news (such as critical statements by H S Suhrawardy. Mir Sahib was
one of those courageous Pakistani editors who refused to toe the
Government line and defended the newspaper's right to buy the news
service it considered useful for its readers. In the press
conferences of the high and mighty of the Government of the day, Mir
Saheb often put critical questions defending the interest and well
being of the people and demanded justice for the aggrieved and
maltreated. Field Marshal Ayub Khan, in an Editors' meeting, felt
irked by Mir Sahib's amplification of the public's grievance but Mir
Sahib stuck to his standpoint. Mir Sahib had a row with President
Ziaul Haq because of Jang's exposure of lapses in governance under
his military rule. Mir Sahib did believe that advertising income is
a newspaper's backbone financially but he did not bow to undue or
unethical pressure from the advertisers vis-a-vis news coverage or
editorial comments in his newspapers. He refused to accept and
publish advertisements with unethical content or overtones.
Sahib was quick in tapping the new computerised technology for his
Urdu and English newspapers. As Chairman of the National Press Trust
(1986-87), I showed Mir Sahib the high speed Goss Community rotary
printing machines we had installed in The Pakistan Times press in
Lahore and Islamabad and the use of computerised Urdu typesetting in
the Daily Mashriq in Lahore.
Sahib took notes of what he had seen and inquired about their
operational system and costs. He lost no time in importing better
versions of printing machinery and computerised typesetting for the
Jang Group of newspapers which by then had added 'The News
International' to its expanding list of publications. From the
technological point of view and the vast range of news coverage, the
'Jang' and the 'The News' (together with their Internet versions)
rank amongst Asia's great newspapers. The groundwork for it was done
by Mir Sahib. His two sons, Mir Javed Rahman and Mir Shakilur
Rahman, whom he trained himself in journalism and newspaper
management, have added much lustre to their father's legacy and
expanded the newspaper empire he bequested to them for the service
unique quality in Mir Khalilur Rahman's character was his unwavering
concern for the well being of his employees. Knowing the antecedents
of every man and woman he recruited into his newspaper domain, he
shared their joys and he was helpful to them whenever they went
through a patch of suffering. Once a watchman was delayed in opening
the main gate of the Jang office; his superior rightly suspended
him. Tearfully, the watchman went to Mir Sahib and showed him the
hospital chit indicating his mother's hospitalisation earlier in the
morning. Mir Sahib forgave him and he was back on his job. Mir Saheb
maintained good relations with the sellers and hawkers of the Jang
newspapers. Whenever invited, he went to their weddings or sent them
my chairmanship of the National Press Trust, I came to know more
about the efficient manner in which Mir Sahib personally directed
circulation and sale arrangements for the Jang Group of newspapers
and the importance he gave to getting more advertisement for his
newspapers. He also took pains to ensure that there should never be
a slowdown in the flow of advertising income into Jang's exchequer.
He kept in close touch with his advertisement mangers and saw a
daily statement of advertisements published and income obtained.
Many of the big advertisers were known to Mir Sahib personally.
of newsprint in many newspapers' printing plants is a common malaise
of the newspaper industry. Mir Sahib was against it and often paid
surprise visits to his printing plants at midnight or in the wee
hours of the morning to detect newsprint wastage. He kept a notebook
near his bedside and jotted down on it any bright ideas that came to
him at night. The next day he would take action as a follow-up
in London, where Jang is a thriving and influential Urdu-cum-English
newspaper, Mir Sahib used to read with great interest magazines
about the newspapers industry and print trade. He had an eye for
cost-cutting devices and methods.
making the Jang Group of newspapers, a nursery for budding Pakistani
Journalists, many of whom won fame in later years in their
profession, Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman was a source of strength to the
organisations of newspaper publishers and editors much as the APNS
and the CPNE. Whenever these bodies fought battles with the
Government to defend freedom of the Press in Pakistan, Mir Sahib and
his group of newspapers supported them courageously and abided by
their protest strike calls. For his mass circulation newspapers,
participation in a "Press Hartal" meant considerable loss
of revenue but he valued freedom of the press for more. Yet he did
not abandon his bridges of constructive contact with the government
of the day and used his power of persuasion to make the rulers take
to the path of reason in dealing with the Press. During a visit to
London in 1987 (with the then Prime Minster Junejo), Mir Sahib spent
considerable time in discussing with the Director-General of
Britain's Press Council in Fleet Street the organisations working.
An opponent of yellow journalism and a supporter of ethic in
newspaper reportage, Mir Sahib refused to accept unethical
advertisements. During his foreign visions, Mir Sahib made it a
point to look closely at their national newspapers and their news
and print quality. He made friends with their editors and publishers
and extended to them the Jang's hospitality when they visited
Pakistan. In 1986, during Prime Minster Junejo's visit to the USA,
he and I spent some time at the office of the USA Today, close to
Washington D C and learnt more about its simultaneous publication
from more than a score of cities across the USA on computerised mats
beamed from its parent office near the US Capital.
months before I left London to take over a as Chairman of the
National Press Trust in Islamabad in April 1986, I showed Mir Sahib
video films of the UK's Financial Times and the London Times in my
Knightsbridge flat. He planned to have a video film made about the
Jang Group of Newspapers, including its offshoot in the West, the
Jang of London. He was always receptive to new ideas in newspaper
management but he was against any masterful expenditure likely to
hurt the immense financial stability he had given to his newspaper
No newspaper entrepreneur in Pakistan's journalistic history was so successful as Mir Khalil-ur- Rahman and his Jang Group of Newspapers. I once asked him "what was the secret of his success" and his reply even now rings in my ears: "Hard work and Faith in Allah and no arrogance".
While discussing his personality, Qutubuddin Aziz, ex-bureaucrat, ex-ambassador and a prominent journalist, says: "Mir Sahib was a self made person. He made his name in journalism due to his own leadership acumen and good qualities. He started his journey from Delhi. I met him in Pakistan in 1949 and was really inspired by him. He was bestowed with the rare quality of an investigative journalist. Digging a story is an art he was well versed in. He never solely depended on his reporter. Instead, he always gave his input in that story. He never missed Liaqut Ali Khan's conferences and would give his own input in the story written by his reporter. As an entrepreneur, he was one of the successful publishers of Pakistan.
good judge, he picked talented people, encouraged and trained them.
Later, they became the renowned journalists of Pakistan. Pakistan
was his first love. His own reporting boosted the moral of his
reporters, besides keeping a hidden check on their performance. He
kept his advertisement department in his own hands, made a team of
managers and trained them. His theory was that even an ad worth Rs
10 should be printed in Jang.
1965, he sent his war correspondents, who used to report round the
clock. He established a well equipped monitoring desk in Jang to
record the reaction of different countries about Pakistan during the
war. He also conveyed the point of view of East Pakistan to West
Pakistan through his correspondents in Dacca. Jang was a real
ambassador for Pakistani community which considered the paper as its
spokesman and leader.
During his visit to China, he visited Sinkiang, where Muslims were in majority. We met the President of Sinkiang, Saifuddin Azizi, who felt that the news from Sinkiang should be printed in Jang. Mir Sahib studied the lifestyle and customs there and wrote all those things in the form of a diary. Azizi also suggested to us that there should be an air service from Sinkiang to Rawalpindi (Pakistan) and Cairo to facilitate the Muslims travelling to Mecca for Hajj from Sinkiang. So we talked to Iskandar Mirza, the then President of Pakistan and Choudhry Mohammad Ali, the Prime Minister. During the war with India we established an air service to China through Sinkiang. So today's air service from Rawalpindi to Sinkiang to Beijing, owes a great deal to Mir Sahib's efforts towards this end.
Mir Sahib could never hide his interest in technology. During China's visit, he went to see Takinpao's office, which is China's biggest newspaper with mass circulation. Since Chinese is a difficult language with almost 10,000 characters, so he took keen interest in printing technology there. Similarly, in America, he showed his keenness in Goss Community printing machines, which could give 35,000 impressions per hour. Mir Sahib specially watched the printing unit at New York Times. Highly impressed by the latest technology, he brought those machines here, which made possible the simultaneous printing of Jang London, Peshawar and Rawalpindi in Pakistan.
Mumtaz Rashidi the wife of Pir Mohammad Ali Rashdi, a renowned
political figure in Pakistan, is the family friend of Mir Sahib. She
also has much to say about Mir Sahib. "I knew Mir Sahib since
my younger age, but the actual acquaintance developed after my
wedding with Mohammad Ali Rashdi, who was Mir Saheb's friend. Mir
Sahib was a tall and handsome person with very polite mannerism.
1952, Mir Sahib went with a press delegation to India, the purpose
of which was to pave the way for Liaquat-Nehru Pact. At that time a
lot of riots had erupted there resulting in mass killings of
Muslims. That delegation played a very positive role in cooling the
temper of the two sides.
describing the sense of humour in Mir's life, she said: "Bhutto's
era was an important one in the history of Pakistan. Wajid Shamsul
Hassan was the editor of the Daily News at that time. Since Mir
Sahib had given full liberty to his editors, so Wajid used to write
very critical editorials about PPP government. Notwithstanding,
Maulan Kausar Niazi had suggested to take Jang under a Trust. Mir
sahib was quite worried and came to Islamabad to meet Kausar Niazi,
who was residing in a big bungalow having a large green lawn. While
returning, he came to our residence. I received Mir Sahib and asked
him as to where he was coming from. He said: "I am coming from
the bungalow of Maulana Kuasar Niazi. I was asking Maulana that what
he was doing with Jang, but he kept on picking matchsticks from his
lawn." While saying all this Mir Sahib also acted it out to me.
He would bow down and imitate Maulana Niazi picking something, while
saying "Pir Sahib Aaye hoay thay" (Pir Sahib had come
here). On seeing confusion on my face, Mir Sahib explained to me
that Pir Sahib has just come from Maulana's residence and since he (Pir
Sahib) smoked pipe, so he lit a
lot of matchsticks there. Maulana Niazi could not bear these
matchsticks on his beautiful lawn so he was picking all of them.
While adding Mir Saheb said: "I was talking on such a serious
matter, and he was concerned about his lawn. It shows how these
ministers take serious matter so lightly."
This is one of the incidents which shows Mir Sahib's wit. Mir
Sahib was never pressurised by the government or compromised on the
Aali, prominent poet and columnist,
says: "Mir Saheb possessed a unique personality. He was
hardworking, intelligent and a God-fearing human being. He was
bestowed with a broad vision. I
knew him since he was in Delhi. We spent a lot of time together.
When his office was on Burns Road, once I went to take him since we
were going somewhere together. It was the first day of that month. I
reached there at the given time, but Mir Sahib was not there.
Instead he had left a
message for me that he would be late for 4-5 minutes. I asked as to
where he had gone, but nobody knew about it. A new employee,
however, told me that he had gone to the next street. The narrow
street was an abandoned place, so out of curiosity, I went there to
see him. I saw some 70-80 children and women were standing in a
queue there and Athar Nafees, the famous poet who was working as
cashier in Jang at that
time, was standing with Mir Sahib with cash in his hand. Mir Sahib
was distributing cash among those people. As he caught the sight of
me, he just went mad and asked annoyingly as to why I had come
there. He asked me to go back on the pretext, 'may be you recognise
some of them' and I really recognised some of them. While back to
office he insisted on telling the name of the person who disclosed
his whereabouts to me and I informed him about the person. Mir Sahib
scolded that person bitterly. On my intervention, he cooled down.
Then he took oath from me to never reveal his secret. I told him
that if I remained alive after him then I would tell this event to
others though I would not reveal the names of the people.
journalist, he set new trends in journalism. He took column writing
to a new height. He printed humourous and super serious columns in
his paper besides making a place for literary and informative
columns. During tours abroad, I found him an accommodating person.
Sahib was a true friend. When I resigned from the Press Trust, he
asked me to sit in Jang and Daily News, but added: "In my
personal opinion, a friend should not do the job of a friend. But I
will make projects with you." I expressed my desire to open a
unit to manufacture typewriters in Pakistan to which he agreed to
invest in the project. Though I did not use his capital but he
helped me in taking loans from the bank.
suggested that I want to have something like Time Magazine under
Jang's umbrella. Again he agreed and I made the feasibility plan and
kept the name "Akhbar-i-Jahan for his weekly magazine.
During Gen Zia's rule, there was strict pre-publication censorship in the country. Mir Sahib never took the risk of frontal confrontation with Marshal Law. Nobody took it. However Mir Sahib adopted the policy of procrastinating things. Mir Sahib had the qualities of a shrewd administrator. He never followed the policy of any government. He always shielded his staff from the govt's wrath. During 1977, he refused to side with the government. He said: "My newspaper is a public servant. It's not my property anymore, we are just doing management. I cannot interfere in its affairs." Mir Sahib was a visionary man and expanded his empire in a balanced manner. He also wanted to publish Jang from New York and Los Angeles.