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Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman: Founding father of an institution
By Abdul Hameed Chhapra

The 17th death anniversary of Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman, the founding father of the Jang Group of newspapers and magazines, is solemnly observed every year on January 25.

Mir saheb launched his mission during the Second World War (1939-1945) in the early 1940 from the then capital of the British India, Delhi. He started publication of the daily Jang with a very small capital and was a self-made man who had no inhibitions about doing manual work. Such was the level of his hard work that he used to buy newsprint from the paper market and carry the reams on his bicycle to the printing press. Once the newspaper was printed, he would then personally deliver copies to agents as well as the hawkers.

This scribe had the honour and privilege of serving under Mir saheb as a Senior Staff reporter of daily Jang and columnist of weekly Akhbar-e-Jahan and Mag from 1966 to 1990.

During the initial period of the preparation of the newspaper Mir saheb performed various tasks along with his able, dedicated and trusted editorial team, which included such seminaries as Syed Mohammad Taqi, Raees Amrohi and Yusuf Siddiqui. Through determination, sheer hard work and with the assistance and cooperation of his faithful colleagues, Mir saheb succeeded in making Jang the number one Urdu newspaper in the world, as he used to proudly note.

It is an established fact that Mir saheb was a meticulous planner. He paid personal attention to the coverage of national functions and important events in advance. From the beginning of his successful mission, Mir saheb kept himself abreast of the latest developments in the printing technology. In this regard he also took practical steps and imported the most modern printing machines, cameras and scanners from Germany, the United States, Great Britain and Japan. Noori Nastaliq, the Urdu computer composing, was first introduced by Jang. Following the footsteps of Jang, later on other Urdu newspapers also switched to this modern process.

With time and through experience Mir saheb had developed the ability of judging, predicting and seeing things in their proper perspective. A year after the imposition of the First Martial Law on October 7, 1958, General Mohammad Ayub Khan shifted the capital from Karachi, and Mir saheb started the publication of the daily Jang from the interim capital Rawalpindi as well.

Under Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman's stewardship, the Jang Group of newspapers religiously pursued a neutral policy. His aim was to give coverage to all sections of society, including the smallest political parties and organisations while refraining from taking sides with any political party or group.

In October 1962, Mir saheb started publication of Daily News, Karachi which is the premier English evening newspaper of Pakistan. Following this, in 1966 Jang Group launched weekly Akbar-e-Jahan in colour, which within a matter of years managed to achieve the largest circulation in the country as well as the widest readership in Pakistan and abroad.

Apart from this Jang also started its publication of six issues weekly from the British capital, London in early 1970s. Hence, it became the first newspaper of the subcontinent that was simultaneously published from Asia and Europe. Later on, Jang made its appearance from Quetta, the capital of Balochistan and Lahore which is the seat of powers of the biggest province-Punjab, in 1980s. The pictorial and coloured weekly the Mag was launched in 1982. The following year, the English morning newspaper, The News was launched in February 1991, simultaneously from Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi and London.

For more than half a century, during Mir saheb's life time, all the projects started by the Jang Group, emerged leaders in their respective fields. The credit definitely goes to the devotion and hard work on part of Mir saheb and his employees. The extraordinary success was the result of the combination of various factors, including his selection of creative teams.
Mir saheb was lucky in acquiring the services of some of the top columnists in the country, including Majeed Lahori, Ibrahim Jalees, Shaukat Thanvi, Niaz Fatehpuri, Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi, Pir Ali Mohammad Rashedi, Nasrullah Khan and Inam Wali Khan Durrani.

A large number of top news gatherers and presenters of the Islamic Republic, including Yusuf Siddiqui, Inam Aziz, Athar Ali, Irshad Ahmad Baig Chughtai, Afzal Siddiqui, Ajmal Dehalvi, Mahmood Ahmed Madni, Yunus Riaz, Akhtar Alam, Shafi Aqeel and Hafiz Mohammad Islam left no stone unturned to make Jang an outstanding newspaper of Pakistan.
The decisive edge which publications of the Jang Group enjoyed and still enjoy over their competitors is due to the untiring efforts of their creative staff and production teams. The combined efforts of these workers under the able and dynamic leadership of Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman were instrumental in continuously increasing the circulation, as well as widening their leadership.

Mir saheb appreciated the dedication and positive contribution of his staff members. The celebrated columnists were the most pampered members of the organisation and Mir saheb often gladly tolerated the liberties taken by them.
The most appreciable quality of Mir saheb however was that he did not believe in creating any bureaucratic hurdles. In this regard he used to publicly say that a contented worker is an asset to an organisation. He was easily accessible and any member of the staff from editors to the messenger boys could meet him at any time of the day.

The top newspaper magnate of the country, Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman was never negligent of the welfare of his workers. While other press barons opposed and resisted the formation of the trade unions, Mir saheb willingly allowed these in his newspapers and magazines.

Yusuf Faruqui who served in Jang Karachi from 1953 to 1973 and Jang International, London from 1973 to 1983, in different capacities told this scribe during a meeting in the British capital that Mir saheb believed in the dignity of labour, since he himself had started from scratch and had gone through all sorts of pain, pressures and hardships to convert his organisation into an institution and the biggest chain of newspaper in Pakistan.

Faruqui informed that Jang started paying bonuses to its employees even before the enforcement of the First Wage Award from January 1, 1961 and the yearly earned leaves were also increased to 30 days at that time.

Putting the great saying, 'eternal vigilance is the price of liberty' into practice, Mir saheb stayed awake until the very last copy of the newspaper was sent in the early hours of the morning. Likewise in the absence of the staff he used to rush to the airport himself for receiving the delivery of photographs sent through PIA parcels from upcountry at midnight in order to include them in the morning issue.

During his career which spanned over more than half a century Mir saheb did not nurture any political ambition. However, for a brief stint in the mid 1950s Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman was elected as a councilor of the Karachi Municipal Corporation (KMC) from the Artilery Maidan, Karachi by securing the highest number of votes.

A man like Mir saheb is born once a millennium and it was indeed an honour to work with a man of his caliber.