Asrar Ahmad buried -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Asrar Ahmad buried

By: Anwar Mansuri

ISLAMABAD: Veteran journalist Asrar Ahmad, 89, who died Saturday evening in Rawalpindi’s Westridge Valley area, was buried not by his near and dear ones but by the local community on Sunday morning.

Only five journalists from Islamabad attended the burial of this pressman who struggled for journalists’ rights and then also laid the foundations of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ).

Three other journalists, who had retired long ago, only managed to attend the funeral prayers at the house in which Asrar sahib spent his last days. They were too frail to walk the 500 metres to the graveyard, much less to be pall-bearers.

His kind-hearted neighbours in Street 4 of the Valley did that.

The Valley is the backyard and a very poor cousin of the real, and up-market, Westridge locality where Asrar sahib had lived and worked in the early 1960s as the chief reporter of the Pakistan Times in the days when the new capital of Islamabad was being built.

But in sharp contrast to the deprecating look of the Valley, the grave dug for Asrar sahib was a marvel in precision and spotless, like the man himself. He will lay in peace in a non-descript and unmarked grave.

His latest successor in the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, Mr Pervaiz Shaukat, who made it to the funeral, promised to make a ‘Pucci Qabar’ – one that is covered with bricks and cement.

But surely the journalist community owes him more than just concrete and a tomb stone. Perhaps the community could also uphold the values Asrar sahib, and his worthy contemporaries, were known and respected for, and will be remembered for.

If this is too abstract a goal, could they at least carry out a campaign to clean the air of the Westridge Valley for him – and for the residents of the Valley, whom they owe a debt for taking care of their unsung leader?

The residents of the area complain they have to breathe foul air because the CDA dumps Islamabad’s wastage in their area and the Rawalpindi Cantonment Board, which controls the area, just looks on passively.