Veteran journalist Raja Asghar passes away
ISLAMABAD: Veteran journalist Raja Mohammad Asghar died here on Saturday morning after a brief illness. He was 78.
It was only six weeks ago that doctors had diagnosed him with an advanced stage of pancreatic cancer.
Having over 50 years of experience of working with leading national and foreign news agencies and newspapers, Raja Asghar was known as the most credible and respected journalist among the community. He had been associated with Dawn for the last 15 years and had been covering parliamentary proceedings.
Born on Nov 16, 1938, in Dhan Kacheli village near Muzaffarabad (Azad Kashmir), Raja Asghar had begun his career in journalism from daily Khyber Mail in Peshawar soon after doing graduation in late 1950s.
Later, he joined the state-run news agency Associated Press of Pakistan (APP). During his professional career, he got the opportunity to witness and cover many major national events, including the first martial law and the disastrous consequences flowing from it to the drafting and passage of the 1973 Constitution, imposition of martial law by Gen Ziaul Haq and execution of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
In the 1980s, he joined leading British news agency Reuters as its Islamabad correspondent and remained associated with it till his retirement in 2002.
Raja Asghar had also played very active role in trade union activities and served as president of the APP Union. He always remained concerned for the welfare of working journalists and raised his voice at every forum to highlight the problems being faced by the journalist community during performance of their duty.
He was also a founding member of the Parliamentary Reporters Association (PRA).
Raja Asghar faced greatest tragedy in early 2013 when his two sisters and wife died within a span of two months’ time. He has left behind a son to mourn his death.
He was laid to rest at his ancestral village in Azad Kashmir. Despite harsh weather condition due to heavy snowfall, a large number of people attended his funeral.
CONDOLENCE: Former president Asif Ali Zardari in a message expressed sadness over the passing away of Raja Asghar and paid glowing tributes to him for his services in the field of journalism.
In a condolence message, the former president said Raja Asghar would be remembered not only for his professional competence but also for upholding journalistic values and ethics passionately and with conviction.
“Humble and humane by nature, Raja Asghar shunned personal glorification and never flaunted his competence or scruples to throw his weight around or offend anyone,” he said.
Mr Zardari said that Raja Asghar had upheld pristine journalist values at a time when intimidation and inducements had made it so difficult to uphold those values.
“Journalists like Raja Asghar are true role models for the new breed of journalists who can learn so much and draw inspiration from their example,” he said.
The passing away of Raja Asghar is a sad occasion not only for his family, friends and well wishers but also for the journalism in Pakistan.
National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abassi and Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani condoled the sad demise of Raja Asghar.
While paying tributes to the services of Raja Asghar, they said that he had played a vital role for freedom of expression in the country. They said the journalist fraternity could not overcome this loss and his services would be remembered in years to come.
Federal Information Minister Pervez Rashid also expressed his deep grief and sorrow over the death of Raja Asghar.
The minister said Raja Asghar was a journalist par excellence and a role model for young media persons.
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