RIP Majid Nizami
Veteran journalist, editor and publisher Majid Nizami passed away on Friday at the age of 86, leaving Pakistan without one of its most respected and consistent voices in journalism. As chairman of the Nawa-i-Waqt Group and before that as editor-in-chief of Nawa-i-Waqt, Majid Nizami was a veritable institution in Pakistani journalism for over 50 years since taking charge of Nawa-i-Waqt in the early 1960s after his brother Hameed Nizami, the founder-editor of the paper, died prematurely. Majid Nizami cemented his reputation as a consistent opponent of military rule or the military’s interference in politics. Born near Sheikhupura in 1928, Majid Nizami was educated at Sangla Hill High School before moving on to Government College Lahore where he obtained his undergraduate degree and then the Punjab University where he graduated with a Master’s degree in political science. During this period the nascent Pakistan movement began taking shape and with his brother Hameed, Majid Nizami threw himself into activism and diligently worked for the Pakistani cause as part of the Muslim Students Federation. Hameed Nizami, thirteen years older than his brother and his mentor, founded Nawa-i-Waqt as a monthly magazine in 1940 and thereafter both brothers worked tirelessly through their journalism and activism to further the cause of an independent state for India’s Muslims. By 1944 the newspaper was printing daily editions and became a powerful voice for the the Muslim League as the struggle for independence gained momentum. The first edition of the daily newspaper came out on July 22, 1944, prominently carrying a Muslim prayer and the words of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Majid Nizami was still a young man in his early twenties when he was recognised after independence for his services to the Pakistan movement by Prime Minister (PM) Liaqat Ali Khan who awarded him the Mujahid-e-Tehrik-e-Pakistan. This was the beginning of Majid Nizami’s passionate commitment to Pakistan, a country that he fought for and served throughout his life. In 1954 he moved to London to pursue his studies in political science and to read for the Bar at Gray’s Inn. He acted as the Nawa-i-Waqt’s political correspondent in London during this period, helping his brother with the running of the newspaper and meeting many dignitaries and world leaders who visited the metropolis regularly. Nawa-i-Waqt continued to remain a strong voice in support of constitutionality and democracy in Pakistan.
This undoubtedly fulfilling time in Majid Nizami’s life was tragically cut short by the untimely death of his brother in 1962, who was persecuted for his fierce opposition to the military regime of Ayub Khan. In 1956 President Iskander Mirza’s martial law declaration was bitterly opposed by Hameed Nizami who called it a “dark night” for Pakistan and publicly wrote against it and the subsequent takeover by General Ayub Khan, who became president. The Ayub regime viciously hounded Hameed Nizami, shutting down his newspaper and eventually driving him to his death. Still a young man, Majid was persuaded to return from England and take over the reins of the newspaper. Continuing with his principled stand on democracy, which became a hallmark of all Nawa-i-Waqt publications, he passionately supported Fatima Jinnah in the elections against Ayub Khan, and continued to be critical of the Ayub regime and its successor under General Yahya Khan. Successively targeted by both military and democratic regimes for his support of democracy in Pakistan, Majid Nizami retained his principled stand throughout his life. He founded The Nation, an English language newspaper in 1986 and during his tenure the Nawa-i-Waqt Group continued to expand into magazines, periodicals and after 2007 a television channel. They were guided by Majid Nizami’s vision to give Pakistan a voice on issues such as Kashmir, which remained in his view the country’s ‘jugular vein’ and for which cause he continued to speak up consistently, advocating Pakistan’s rights and the rights of the Kashmiri people. Awarded the Sitara-i-Pakistan, Sitara-i-Imtiaz and the Nishan-i-Imtiaz, he was even once offered the presidency by PM Nawaz Sharif, but respectfully declined saying that being editor of Nawa-i-Waqt was a great enough privilege. RIP Majid Nizami, a dedicated journalist and true Pakistani.