Committed trade unionist Shafiuddin Ashraf is no more
KARACHI: Shafiuddin Ashraf, general secretary of the Pakistan Herald Workers Union (PHWU) and chairman of All Pakistan Newspaper Employees Confederation (Apnec), passed away at a local hospital after a protracted illness on Friday. He was 63. He is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.
A compassionate man of high integrity and a committed trade unionist, Mr Ashraf spent decades fighting for the rights of newspaper employees and press freedom.
After receiving his early education in East Pakistan, Mr Ashraf was forced to migrate to Karachi during the turmoil-filled period of the early 1970s that saw a number of his family members massacred in his birthplace Santahar, near Raj Shahi.
He joined Dawn in 1975 and later got associated with the union in the 1980s. Armed with an LLB degree and a heart of gold, Mr Ashraf who was well-versed with the labour laws soon rose to general secretary’s post and earned the respect of one and all for his strong will and dedication to the cause of newspaper employees.
His selfless contribution and struggle for media workers received countrywide recognition when he assumed charge as Apnec chairman.
The top leadership of the Pakistan Herald Workers Union, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ) and several other media organisations expressed deep sorrow over Mr Ashraf’s untimely death and termed it a great loss for trade-unionism and media workers.
His Namaz-i-Janaza will be held on Saturday (Dec 8) after Zohr prayers (1.15pm) at Jamia Darul Uloom Rahmania, near DC Office, 15-A/5, Buffer Zone, Karachi. He will be laid to rest at the Model Colony graveyard.
Former president Asif Ali Zardari has expressed profound grief over the passing away of Mr Ashraf. In a condolence message issued from Islamabad, the former president said that Mr Ashraf had dedicated his life to the cause of media workers’ rights and his death had left a vacuum that would take a long time to fill. His struggle for the implementation of the Wage Board Award for newspapers employees would long be remembered, he added.
Mr Zardari prayed for eternal rest for the departed soul and grant of patience to the bereaved family to bear the loss.
In a joint statement issued from Islamabad, PFUJ president Afzal Butt and secretary general Ayub Jan Sarhandi expressed deep sorrow and grief over the death of Mr Ashraf.
“Our hearts are bleeding and we have no words to express our sorrow at the death of Shafiuddin Ashraf,” said the statement.
“Shafiuddin Ashraf spent all his life struggling for the rights of the workers of media industry and we have no words to pay tributes to his services for the workers.”
They said Mr Ashraf belonged to the working class and, hence, was aware of their problems and that he spent his life to fight for their rights. “He was a principled man and stood by his principles firmly throughout his life and it was for this reason that he had been elected unopposed the president of daily Dawn (union) for over 30 years.”
The two leaders said that Mr Ashraf’s services as Apnec chairman would long be remembered, especially the role he played in increasing wages of workers under wage board awards.
“He was a beacon of light for all the trade union leaders in this country,” they said.
“He was an upright, honest and straight forward person who lived all his life without seeking any special favour for himself and his family.
“Our heart goes out for the family members of Shafiuddin Ashraf and equally share their this grief and loss,” they added.
The PFUJ leaders expressed their deep sympathy with the media industry workers, particularly with Dawn workers, over this great loss.
They prayed to Allah to accept his struggle for the rights of the workers and give him highest place in Jannah and give fortitude to his family members to bear this loss.
The PFUJ has called upon affiliated unions of journalists to cancel all union activities for three days to mourn his death.