He Fought with his Pen

Southasia - - Tribute - By Javed An­sari

There are var­i­ous rea­sons for read­ers to re­main loyal to a news­pa­per. For many a Dawn reader on Sun­days, for a long time the rea­son for their loy­alty was Ardeshir Cowas­jee and his spir­ited col­umns.

If any­thing, Cowas­jee was a fear­less man, never to be in­tim­i­dated by any­one, whether pres­i­dent or pau­per. While in the ship­ping busi­ness and later, for a short stint in the ZA Bhutto days, as Chair­man of the Port Qasim Author­ity, he prob­a­bly never re­al­ized that he would be known more as a colum­nist of high re­pute in the dusk of his life rather than as any­thing else. His news­pa­per writ­ing ca­reer started with mis­sives in the Dawn ‘Let­ters to the Ed­i­tor’ col­umns on is­sues of pub­lic in­ter­est and brought him into the col­umn-writ­ing do­main in times much be­fore Gen. Mushar­raf ar­rived on the scene and let the me­dia breathe easy.

Once Cowas­jee started gath­er­ing steam and was read in quar­ters where it mat­tered, his col­umns be­came a sort of a plat­form for ag­grieved peo­ple who would ap­proach him con­cern­ing all kinds of com­plaints and in­jus­tices done to them by the cor­rup­tion-mon­gers, the bu­reau­cracy and the power elite. While he per­son­ally knew many of the peo­ple in government, busi­ness and pol­i­tics and re­warded his fa­vorites with his own in­ter­est­ing monikers, his read­ers of­ten won­dered where he got all the clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion that he of­ten re­pro­duced in his col­umns. It is said that doc­u­ments and files were pro­vided to him by those who brought him their prob­lems to give him a snap­shot of the is­sue at hand – and then, if Ardeshir Cowas­jee was con­vinced, it was his pen that spoke. It is also a fact that he would never be forced to write on any is­sue but once he took up the cause, noth­ing would stop him and he would make sure the wrong was ‘righted’.

Those whom Cowas­jee’s writ­ings hit be­low the belt, par­tic­u­larly in the

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