Farooq Mazhar dies -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Farooq Mazhar dies

LAHORE- Farooq Mazhar, Pakistan’s most prominent sports journalist, television commentator, and former editor of The News, died in Bahrain after a short illness.

The late Farooq Mazhar started his journalistic career in 1959 for the then popular sports magazine the Sports Times. From there he ventured over to the Pakistan Times as a sports reporter. He was one of the few journalists in the world to have covered nine Olympics for the radio, television, or newspaper.

Farooq Mazhar made a name for himself as an analyst on the political spectrum of the country. His knowledge of the political affairs endeared him to many politicians including Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who in his days in the prison relied on Farooq for contacts with the outside world. Because of his continued deep involvement in the political field and his clear thinking many politicians sought his views on regular basis. For this widely recognised reputation for clear and unbiased opinions he was merited with the editorship of The News.

Farooq Mazhar also served as president of International Hockey Sports Writers Association, a body under the FIH, for 12 years. His knowledge of hockey was so vast and his analysis so unbiased that chiefs of hockey from General Musa, Air Marshal Nur Khan to Arif Abbasi all consulted him on all matters regarding hockey. Farooq Mazhar covered cricket for various newspapers and it was his first love, till hockey got his undivided attention for four decades.

The late Farooq Mazhar was a Ravian and son of late engineer Khawaja Mohammad Mazhar. Farooq was married to Khalida in 1971, which only last year retired from Pakistan Television as controller of current affairs. Farooq and his wife were now settled in Houston, Texas. Farooq Mazhar was most recently the media manager of Pakistan cricket team on the tour of New Zealand. It was on this tour that he lost his health and upon return to Pakistan he himself checked in Lahore where it was discovered that he was suffering from terminal cancer of the lungs. It was then that he decided to travel to Houston to his family for treatment, but suffered a heart attack at Bahrain, en-route to the USA. He was admitted to a hospital in Bahrain for the past one week. He died of complications on the evening of Saturday, April 28. He was 62. Farooq Mazhar leaves behind a wife, a son and a daughter. He also leaves behind his mother, sister Mrs Brig. (retd) Iqbal Shariff, brothers Haroon Mazhar and Daud Mazhar. The body of the late Farooq Mazhar is expected to reach Lahore in the early hours of Tuesday, May 1. His janaza will be taken out from his sister’s house at 3 Shariff Colony, Canal Park, Gulberg, Lahore, at 4.30 pm and namaz-e-janaza will be held at Khalid mosque, Cavalry Ground after Asar prayers. He will be buried at the Cavalry Ground graveyard.

Chairman Pakistan Cricket Board, Lt Gen Tauqir Zia expressed his deep condolence on the passing away of eminent journalist and commentator Farooq Mazhar in a Bahrain Hospital.

Having covered many sporting events with him, one felt saddened to see him suffering. But Farroq was his usual, jovial self and his hospitality was there as always. He was keen to know what was happening back home in the PCB and what would happen after the conclusion of the tour.

But during all the time, one could see the pain in his eyes, as he struggled with numerous illnesses.

Earlier in the day he had undergone several tests at a local hospital and the feedback was the doctors were clearly concerned about his health.

He was suffering from severe vertebrae pain, sciatica and internal ulcer bleeding. At that time one was not aware he had also developed lung-cancer and not once during the tour did he indicate this.

Naturally, manager Faqir Aizazuddin and coach Javed Miandad were concerned about his health and they advised him to fly straight away to Houston, where he had settled down with his family last year. Despite being a junior and having a lot of respect for him on a professional level, one also implored him to return immediately to Houston.

But Farooq Mazhar insisted he would go to Lahore where he could meet his mother. He feared that since she was frail and sick he would not get another chance to see her. After that meeting one did not get to talk in detail with Farooq Mazhar as Pakistan lost the Test in Hamilton inside three days and everything went haywire.

Being the condition he was in, on the sidelines he was undergoing more tests and was kept under observation in hospital. I bid him explain why but he clearly developed a soft spot for this junior reporter. It was after the hockey semi-finals, which Pakistan lost to Germany, that I came across his professional side. After the match I was so depressed that it became difficult to type down a few words. He boomed from across the mom, “You are here to do a job, do it properly. Victory and defeat must not bother you.”

His professionalism also came through in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, when the bomb blast took place late night near the main media centre. He was there at 6:00 am in the morning for the FBI press briefing, when many of the other Pakistani reporters just did not bother to show up.

His forceful attitude towards reporting and professional attitude has clearly rubbed off on many juniors like me. At least he influenced me to become more professional and objective in my job. In the period that followed, Farooq Mazhar’s strong influence, particularly in hockey, and generally in Pakistan sports, continued.

I once developed some differences with him over the appointment of Khawaja Zakauddin as manager, but this did not stop him from passing on valuable tips or advice whenever I met him. Many people may have different views and opinions about him but there should be no second opinion that he was one of the few Pakistani sports reporters who made it big. His words were influential enough to shake up the establishment.

He will surely be missed at a time when there is clearly a dearth of professionalism and talent in the Pakistan sports media.

Source: The News