Tribute paid to Zamir Niazi
KARACHI – Journalists, intellectuals and men of letters on June 18 paid tribute to the late Zamir Niazi’s outstanding commitment to the cause of the freedom of the press.
Speaking at a condolence meeting, jointly organized by the Anjuman Taraqi Pasand Musanifeen, Qalam Barai Aman and the Arts Council of Pakistan, the former editor-in-chief of Dawn, Ahmad Ali Khan, recalled how Mr. Niazi started collecting “press advices” issued by the government in its bid to muzzle the press.
“Independent journalists can comply with the instructions of their editors even if they do not always see eye to eye with them. But their consternation knows no bounds when they receive instructions from others, especially the government which is intolerant of dissent.
At first, Mr. Niazi collected these ‘press advices’ in a casual manner, but later when the government institutionalized this unethical practice, he brought all his energies to bear upon this exercise which he undertook with great determination and discipline,” he said.
Mr. Khan said: “When a soldier falls in battle, he hands over his standard to his fellow-soldiers before he drops to the ground. In the same way, I hope, Mr. Niazi instilled in youngsters a sense of the freedom of the press.”
The director of the Pakistan Study Centre, Dr. Syed Jaffar Ahmed, said that Mr. Niazi had been variously described as a journalist, a chronicler and a man of letters. “But he was the quintessence of civility. It was his love for man that led him to the tricky field of journalism. It was also his affection for life that found expression in his book, Zameen ka noha,” he said.
Noted columnist Zahid Hina said: “We live in a world of dwarfs. Men of high stature are so few and far between that they stand out. Mr. Niazi was one such man. All his life he wrote about the various methods, the powers that be employed to enslave the press.
When on May 13, 1978, ‘disobedient’ journalists were lashed in public, Mr. Niazi was most perturbed. In his books, he recorded unfortunate events, like these with remarkable precision and impartiality.”
Disagreeing with Ms. Hina, Dr. Mohammad Ali Siddiqui said that it was idle to suggest that there would by nobody like Mr. Niazi in the future. He hoped that young journalists would follow the footsteps of Mr. Niazi.
The same idea was echoed by Dr. Manzoor Ahmed who said he was convinced that Mr. Niazi, who interacted with his young colleagues a lot, must have rubbed off his good qualities onto them.