Re­mem­ber­ing a truly iconic Mirza Has­san Akhtar

Pakistan Observer - - NATIONAL -

AN­OTHER of my old col­league and dear friend, Mirza Has­san Akhtar, has passed away in Is­lam­abad. Al­though I had not met him for quite some time af­ter he moved away from Lahore in the early six­ties he be­longed to those early batch of jour­nal­ists who had es­tab­lished a re­pute and tra­di­tions to be fol­lowed by oth­ers as true icons.

I am sad­dened to hear of his pass­ing away as both his late el­der brother and first cousin, Com­man­der Askari and Tahir Mirza, had been stal­warts in jour­nal­ism and re­lated fields. Askari, had started his ca­reer with “The States­man” in New Dehli, just prior to par­ti­tion be­fore his fam­ily moved to Pak­istan. He spent many years in ISPR and later in diplo­macy be­ing as­signed to Paris and other coun­tries, be­fore work­ing for lead­ing news­pa­pers and OUP with dis­tinc­tion.

Tahir Mirza, too be­came a dis­tin­guished jour­nal­ist be­ing as­so­ci­ated with Morning News, the Pak­istan Times, Khaleej Times and later as a Ed­i­tor, Dawn. I had known Has­san Akhtar, since my in­cep­tion into the then elite As­so­ci­ated Press of Pak­istan, which was run by East­ern News Trust with Ma­lik Ta­jud­din as its Man­ag­ing Trus­tee in the pri­vate sec­tor, af­ter par­ti­tion. Its trus­tees, in­cluded Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Hameed Nizami, Altaf Hus­sain and Ab­dul Ma­jid Sa­lik.

Has­san Akhtar, who had been with APP, be­came the first and the last APP jour­nal­ist to be posted to Cal­cutta. Years later he be­came my col­league hav­ing joined the Pak­istan Times, in Lahore in a se­nior ca­pac­ity.

When I joined PIA in 1960 in Lahore, It was on his coax­ing that I flew to Dacca, for the first time in Fe­bru­ary 1960, with a let­ter to his cousin Tahir Mirza, who was the then Chief Re­porter Morning News in Dacca. This chance meet­ing with Tahir Mirza be­came a life­long friend­ship. Tahir Mirza, too came over to Pak­istan Times in Lahore and then served Khaleej Times in Dubai, BBC in Lon­don, Dawn in Lahore and sub­se­quently as the Ed­i­tor, Dawn at Karachi.

Has­san Akhtar, moved over to Is­lam­abad and joined Dawn in a se­nior ca­pac­ity af­ter a stint with the Morning News and for many years rep­re­sented Times, Lon­don as its Pak­istan Cor­re­spon­dent in Is­lam­abad. He be­came truly a role model for all young and as­pir­ing jour­nal­ists with his im­pec­ca­ble con­duct and pro­fes­sional ex­cel­lence. It is sad to see that af­ter those early pioneers of jour­nal­ism like Kh. Asif, H.K Burki, ABS Jafri, Is­rar Ahmed, Saf­dar Qureshi, and Has­san Akhtar Mirza have all gone to leave be­hind a tra­di­tion to be em­u­lated and fol­lowed by the fu­ture generations.

My solemn con­do­lence to the fam­ily of Mirza Sahib, in­clud­ing Begum Mirza, son, daugh­ter and oth­ers for the great loss. He will be truly missed by his count­less friends, ad­mires and those who came in touch with the truly re­mark­able per­son­al­ity.

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