Abbas Ather passes away
LAHORE: Syed Abbas Ather — a journalist, a poet and a columnist — died here on Monday morning, leaving behind his wife, three daughters and two sons. He was 78.
Also among the mourners are countless young journalists whom he encouraged and trained, and friends as mourners. He was buried on Monday afternoon and his Soyem will be held today (Tuesday) after Asr prayers at his residence in Tajpura Scheme.
With his career spread over five decades, he established himself as one of the finest journalists. Known for sharp headlines and writing skill, Abbas Ather wrote a few which became reference for students of journalism.
“Apart from being a journalist, his poetic work is second to none,” says Attaul Haq Qasmi. Though he stopped writing poetry some time back still his poetry won him the Pride of Performance award. His poem “Bhutto ki beti ayi thi (daughter of Bhutto has returned) is part of the PPP election campaign and being sung on television channels. A perfect journalist, a fine poet and even finer human being: that is how one can define Syed Abbas Ather, he said.
“His was a multi-dimensional personality,” says I.A. Rehman — noted human rights activist and his fellow journalist. Along with journalism, he was an active trade unionist who worked hard for the betterment of working conditions. He raised the stature of the newspapers he worked for, Mr Rehman said.
Abbas Ather joined a Urdu newspaper “Anjam” in the early 1960s in Karachi.
He moved to Lahore and joined another trend-setter Imroze. From there, he moved to a paper called Azad, which was being edited by the legendary Abdullah Malik. Later he moved to Musawat as its editor. He was incarcerated after Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was thrown out of power.
After his release he went into self-exile for a decade and returned to Pakistan when Benazir Bhutto took over in 1988. He edited different papers (Nawa-e-Waqat, Sahafat and also launched his own paper Sadaqat) over the next two decades, and eventually landed in the newly launched daily Express in 2006 as group editor and worked for it till his death.
That is where he started writing columns and earned another distinction.
“He had a history of fighting for working journalists; their salaries and working conditions,” says Munu Bhai. There are only a few journalists who rose to the position of editor but still fought for working journalists. That shows the mettle of the man. “I have not seen a better journalist-turned-social worker. All his life, he helped widows, orphans and needy in whatever capacity he was able to.
It was never a1 pre-condition to know him to invoke his sympathy; anyone in need could walk up to him and Abbas Ather would never disappoint him. The participation of (thousands of people) in his funeral was a certification to his humane, professional and social work.” President Asif Zardari, Prime Minister Hazar Khan Khoso, leaders of various political parties, journalist organisations expressed grief over his death.