ABS Jafri, a pioneer journalist, remembered
ISLAMABAD: There might be many reasons for the apparent decline of quality journalism in Pakistan. But perhaps one reason is that journalists in the country today do not have any role models from within their own industry.
They are not aware of dedicated journalists who passed before them, people such as the late Akhtar bin Shahid Jafri, who fought for press freedom and upheld fundamental values of the craft throughout his career.
Jafri, popularly known as ABS Jafri, was one of the icons of professional and principled journalism in Pakistan. He died on November 23, 2003, at the age of 76.
Family, friends and former colleagues eulogised Jafri at a modest gathering at the National Press Club in Islamabad on Friday in connection with Jafri’s 10th death anniversary this week.
Jafri had started his career as a reporter in pre-partition India. He went on to serve as a Pakistani foreign correspondent in India as well as the editor of several English-language newspapers including the Pakistan Times, The Muslim and the gulf-based paper Kuwait Times.
During his career, he refused to bow down to control of the press during martial law regimes and fought tirelessly for press freedom Murtaza Malik, who had worked with Jafri since the late ‘50s, said despite his own 50 years of active journalism, he did not consider himself anywhere near the calibre of Jafri. “He prided in his professionalism and had this great urge to guide youngsters.”
Hameed Alvi, another friend of Jafri’s, said Jafri would probably not have been happy with the current state of Pakistani media.
Journalists at the gathering said news media practitioners in Pakistan have adopted a carefree approach to news reporting that is devoid of responsibility and accuracy. They said the current lot of journalists should be introduced to the history of struggle of pioneering Pakistani journalists.
Mujahid Barelvi, a senior journalist, fondly remembered Jafri’s skill and love for quoting verses of the poet Ghalib, especially verses that were topical but not part of common usage.