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MKR and his labour of love
Jamiluddin Aali shares some of his memories about
Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman

By Perwez Abdullah

It is difficult to define the versatile qualities of Mir saheb who still amazes me with his personality that took every detail, planned carefully and carried it to completion with a precision and care that was the hallmark of his character," says Jamiluddin Aali, Urdu poet, critic, playwright, essayist, columnist and scholar who was associated with Mir saheb for more than 35 years.

Aali, an octogenarian, beams with the memories of Mir saheb, a 'godfather' to an unbroken string of journalists, poets, writers and common men-- all beneficiary of Mir saheb's generosity and compassionate nature. "Mir saheb was different. He was far ahead of his times with his vision and management qualities. It was very turbulent times during the nineteen-forties when the Indian National Congress and Indian Muslim League were struggling for freedom from the British crown and for Muslim League it was double the struggle for getting independence and carving a homeland for the Indian Muslims. Mir saheb's foresight assessed the need of a newspaper in Urdu that could be the mouth organ of the Muslims' aspirations. It was how the daily Jang emerged on the journalism scene.

Mir saheb had firm belief in the labour of love and he entered the field of journalism with conviction and devotion. He was never deterred by the tactics of his competitors in the field. I remember him saying once that he was not afraid of the government closing down Jang for providing space to the opposition. Several owners of the Urdu press succumbed to the pressure from the military dictators like Ayub Khan and Zia-ul-Haq but Mir saheb never did that", his monologue about Mir saheb is captivating.

Mir saheb, according to Jamiluddin Aali, had his eyes on all the details of the printing process of Jang and other publications. It was customary for Mir saheb to come to the office twice even if he had left the office quite late at night. Once I could not control my curiosity and asked him if he had some doubts about the efficiency of his editorial and allied staff. He laughed and said that it was not the case. "Jang and other publications are my children. I go to the office to ascertain that their nourishment and upbringing is going well", he replied.

"Some people who were not in the inner circle of Mir saheb might consider him a bit parsimonious. But parsimonious he was not, not at all. It was not known to many, even in the inner circle of Mir saheb that he was the patron to many poor families. He would silently pay monthly stipends to such families without even letting his close associates know about it. It was like he was conforming to the Prophet's (PBUH) saying that asks to give the alms in such a way that one hand is given and the other hand remains unaware of the dealing", says Aali.

Mir saheb had the knack to sieve news from even seemingly unimportant facts and figures and often such news retrieved proved to be the breaking news. He was a practical journalist who, despite being the owner of such a big group of companies knew most of the functions of his trade. He was a reporter, an editor and even knew pasting and page making.
Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman had a phenomenal memory and often he surprised other editors with it. At one instance while with a head of a state he was able to reproduce the entire press conference without taking notes.

One of his many great traits was his impartiality towards the religious sects or ideology. He was a practising Muslim but had no problem in generating news from liberal or other sources. News was judged on its merit and not on its background. Yet another great achievement of Mir saheb was the establishment and cementing of journalism in Pakistan. In this regard, many of the journalists who are now dispersed in various corners of the world are a product of the Jang Group. These journalists were trained, pruned, trimmed and chiseled to perfection. This is simply tremendous and shows the depth and never-ending will of Mir saheb for the journalism. There is no denying it.