‘Burhanuddin Hassan was a pioneer of broadcast journalism in Pakistan’
KARACHI: The memorial reference organised to celebrate the life and work of Burhanuddin Hassan, one of the stalwarts of broadcast journalism in Pakistan, took the audience back to a time of military coups and curfews, when martial law was the norm, and the media had to work within a restricted canvas unlike the present day.
Held at the Centre for Excellence in Journalism, IBA, on Thursday, Mr Hassan’s friends, family, colleagues, and those who considered him a mentor came together and shared witty anecdotes about the man and the enigma.
Javed Jabbar, former senator, called Mr Hassan “a distinct pioneer in the field of broadcast journalism in Pakistan. His diverse contributions began [with] his role as news editor of Radio Pakistan soon after graduation, progressed to the Voice of America in Washington DC, and then coming back to form part of the pioneering team of Karachi television.”
Mr Hassan was appointed to the position of general manager of PTV Karachi centre, and he also held multiple responsibilities as director PTV news, current affairs and administration.
Calling Mr Hassan a mentor and inspiration to dozens of youngsters working in the television industry at the time, Jabbar credited the veteran “for establishing some of the basic norms and codes and protocols of how news should be gathered, how it should be treated and how it should be edited and presented.”
Being witness to several historic events within the country, many of the speakers spoke about how heading PTV brought Mr Hassan in very close, and uncomfortable, contact with former military ruler Gen Ziaul Haq. However, he proved his mettle by surviving to narrate the tale yet not allowing PTV to flounder.
Zaheer Khan, senior PTV director and producer who joined television in 1967, negated the general perception that Mr Hassan was only a newsman. “News was one of the departments he worked in. But if you had a conversation with him, you could talk to him about anything. As PTV was a hybrid television channel, news, entertainment, children’s programmes or religious shows all came under his direction when Mr Hassan was general manager.”
Mr Hassan’s family revealed a more intimate side in contrast to the more professional demeanour that the other speakers had to share.
His son Irshad and daughter Gulrukh both shared how their home was a healthy combination of entertainment and learning. Daddy, as they affectionately called him, lived a fulfilling life and both revealed that whenever he is remembered within the household, it is never with regret or sadness, but in a celebratory and enthusiastic way, similar to how he touched and influenced the life of his family.