Journalism was his purpose, his dream, but the ‘cruel’ job market took it all away
RAWALPINDI: September 11, 2011 was the day when Umair Zahoor last visited a media organisation to seek a job. After that he simply gave up.
Zahoor, 26, committed suicide on June 14 after failing to get a job despite having a decent academic profile. A resident of Rawalpindi, he completed his Masters in Mass Communication from International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) with a cumulative GPA of 3.82.
“There isn’t a single organisation he left out while applying for a job. Frustrated by constant rejection, he ultimately ended his life,” said Saqib Zahoor, his elder brother while talking to The Express Tribune.
Umair had joined a weekly newspaper as a trainee after completing his studies, where he was once asked to clean the office. “That incident particularly made him upset. He felt really helpless as he had completed his master’s degree yet he was being treated as if he was uneducated,” said Saqib.
Umair joined an Urdu newspaper as an internee before graduation and was promised a full-time job by the editor upon completion of his studies. He never got the job.
Hailing from Gujar Khan, Umair had been settled in the garrison city since his childhood. After completing his graduation in journalism from Gordon College Rawalpindi, he decided to pursue the field and subsequently got enrolled in IIUI. He was a top position holder throughout his life.
“Journalism was his passion. He knew everything about it and the Constitution was on his finger tips,” said Saqib.
His father Raja Zahoor, a retired air force officer, said, “On June 14, I had my last lunch with him. After a few hours I was told he is no more with us. For a moment I felt as if my feet weren’t on the ground.”
According to him, Umair was under psychological treatment for two years but with the passage of time his situation only became worse and after being unable to find a job, he finally took the extreme step.
“We had no financial problems. All my sons are well-educated and well-settled in their respective fields,” he added.
IIUI Head of Media Department Dr Zafar Iqbal said students like Umair are born in centuries. “He was a brilliant and well-behaved student with an excellent academic record,” he said.
Criticising the culture of using contacts for employment, he said there should be a proper mechanism through which applicants are hired based on merit rather than contacts.
Hammad Butt, his best friend and a fellow student, blamed the job market for being cruel towards fresh entrants. “It is unfortunate that dozens of news channels and newspapers could not accommodate one brilliant student,” he said.
Sharing Umair’s memories, Butt said he would often hang out with his friends during break time but Umair would stay in class and prepare for his lectures. “That’s how hard working he was,” Butt said.
According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), over 1,600 people in the country committed suicides during the first 10 months of 2011. This figure is in addition to the 800 people who attempted suicide. However, experts believe that the actual figure is much higher, as most cases go unreported.
The HRCP believes growing economic instability; especially poverty, helplessness and the authorities’ lack of concern are the major causes behind the increasing number of people ending their lives in the country