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In whom many saw a leader
By Abdul Hameed Chhapra

In the journalistic history of the Indo-Pak subcontinent, Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman is regarded as one of the greatest contributors of journalism of the 20th century. Professor Dr Nisar Ahmad Zuberi, a prominent educationist paid rich tributes to Mir saheb while tracing the historical background of Urdu journalism in Pakistan. Nisar Zuberi before taking up the task of training students at the University of Karachi served the Jang Group as the Incharge of the students' page as well as the Editor of Akhbar-e-Jahan for several years.

Modern Urdu journalism as we know it today, owes a lot to a few personalities like Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, Maulvi Mehboob Alam and Maulana Zafar Ali Khan. Post-partition Pakistan's Urdu journalism, however, is a different story. This period belongs to Mir Khalil-ur-Rehman and his small newspaper, the Jang that over a period of time developed into an empire of lasting strength.

Mir saheb was a complete newspaper man. He was an able editor as well as an enlightened entrepreneur and it is undoubtedly due to his efforts that if today the history of our country is written then it wouldn't be complete until information from the pages of the daily Jang is included.

Mir saheb is praised by the people belonging to all sections of the society. He had a natural knack for handling people and with time he developed contacts with a lot of prominent people ranging from heads of states to ordinary citizens. Former officer of the National Investment Trust (NIT), Shamshad Ahmed says that Mir saheb was polite with everybody irrespective of their financial status or political power. Despite being the owner and Editor-in-Chief of the biggest newspaper, Mir saheb never conversed with anyone in rude language or strict tone.

When it came to politics, here too Mir saheb rose above everyone else. In Pakistan's troubled political history, Mir saheb refused to be pressurised by the high and mighty including the political despots and military dictators.

Former parliamentarian and sportsman, Byram D Avari, who brought many laurels to Pakistan while paying rich tributes to him said, "Mir saheb was easily accessible even to those with whom he did not have any business or transaction to make."

Byram and his wife Gospi Avari won a gold medal in yachting in the Bangkok Asian games in 1978. Mir saheb not only gave full coverage to their achievement but also personally congratulated them for bringing laurels to Pakistan.

Appreciating Mir saheb Byram Avari who is a Parsi, said that about 20 million Pakistanis belong to minority communities. "There are approximately 10 million Hindus and Christians in the country while the Parsis, Buddhists, Sikhs and Bahais are much less in number. Irrespective of this fact it was because of Mir saheb's personal attention that the problems of all minor communities were covered and presented in the newspapers and journals of the Jang Group," he said. Editor of commercial Urdu daily Beopar, Yunus Riaz who has served the Jang Group in various capacities for more than quarter of a century said that Mir saheb was a teacher for his staff and it was his strict routine to listen to all important broadcasts, particularly on Radio Pakistan, BBC, Voice of America, all India Radio etc.

The current High Commissioner of Pakistan in Britain, Wajid Shams-ul-Hasan has served the Jang Group for more than 26 years. He was the Editor of Daily News from 1968 to 1988. During his tenure Wajid was given full powers to pursue the policy of an independent newspaper. When president of the Bangladesh, Shaikh Mujibur Rehman was assassinated on August 15, 1975, Mir saheb called up Wajid early in the morning to inform him about the assassination and instructed him to publish the relevant facts about Shaikh Mujibur Rehman's political career and his association with the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy who was also the founding father of the Awami League.

Mir saheb was a man of many qualities and his legacy will always continue in the form of the chain of newspapers that he started years ago.

Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman received a number of awards for his outstanding services in the field of journalism

1978 - Gold Mercury International Award, Mexico
1983 - Merchant Navy Officer Award
1985 - Writers Forum Award
1985 - Iqra Award
1985 - Baladi Award, the UAE
1987 - Nishan-e-Behbood
1987 - Pakistan Movement Award
1987 - Quaid-i-Azam National Award
1988 - Honourary degree of Ph D, Sri Lanka
1989 - Performance Award
1989 - Quli Qutub Shah Aalami Award (given at International Urdu Conference), New Delhi
1990 - Art International Award (Best editor-in-chief award), Dubai
2000 - Human Rights Award