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Leaders express grief over death of Khalid Hasan

Discussion in 'Social & Current Events' started by RabzonKhan, Feb 8, 2009.

  1. RabzonKhan

    RabzonKhan SENIOR MEMBER

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    He was one of my favorite. This is truly a great loss may he rest in peace.


    Leaders express grief over death of Khalid Hasan

    February 07, 2009

    * Zardari, Gilani, Sherry say Pakistan has lost a great journalist
    * Others pay tribute to Daily Times correspondent

    WASHINGTON/ISLAMABAD: Condolence messages started pouring in immediately after veteran journalist Khalid Hasan’s death – with President Asif Ali Zardari saying “it is a great loss for Pakistan”.

    Zardari expressed his sorrow over the death of Mr Hasan – who died of prostate cancer in a Washington hospital on Friday.

    In a message to his family, the president paid tribute to Mr Hasan for his commitment to his profession and his achievements in journalism. The president said, “He stands out tall among those who serve as an example for our younger journalists … in his death, Pakistani journalism has suffered a great blow. It has created a void that will not be filled so easily ... I pray to Allah to rest his soul in eternal peace.”

    Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani also expressed grief over the death of the Washington-based veteran journalist, and paid tribute to him for setting high journalism standards. Gilani said the country had lost a great journalist, and prayed for eternal peace for the departed soul.

    Information Minister Sherry Rehman also expressed grief over the death of the veteran Pakistani journalist. In her condolence message, the minister said the services of Mr Hasan for journalism would be remembered for a long time to come. She praised him for his commitment to his profession and his achievements. Senate Chairman Mohammedmian Soomro and Deputy Chairman Mir Jan Muhammad Jamali condoled the death of the renowned journalist. Leader of the House in the Senate Mian Raza Rabbani also sent his condolences to Mr Hasan’s family. Lahore Press Club (LPC) President Sarmand Bashir expressed grief and sorrow over the Mr Hasan’s death, and prayed for the journalist’s soul. Council of Newspaper Editors President Arif Nizami said also condoled with Mr Hasan’s family.
     
  2. RabzonKhan

    RabzonKhan SENIOR MEMBER

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    IN MEMORIAM: Rest in peace, dear friend

    Afzal Khan
    February 07, 2009

    Last year, when he wrote a stirring piece on Benazir Bhutto after her assassination, I emailed Khalid Hasan to reiterate my firm belief that nobody writes better obituaries in English than him and in Urdu than Munnoo Bhai. He was six years older to me but fit as a fiddle. I often wondered whether he would also be tempted to write about me, and if so, what it would be like.

    Khalid is no more. Little did I imagine that I shall have to do the obituary.
    More so because he was a friend who had been so caring and was generous to a fault, and had always encouraged me to continue writing political analyses. He would appreciate them and even pass them on to others, including BB.

    A couple of weeks ago, when I learned that he had a running fever, I called him in Washington to inquire about his health. I found him more worried about my own post-operation condition that has kept me from writing anything for some months, and he urged me to come to the United States for further check-up.

    Khalid was a most gifted and versatile journalist, outstanding author, caring human being and an extremely loyal friend. Innately shy, he was finicky about dress, demeanour, taste and standards. A journalist of deep commitment and profound knowledge, he was also an author with great flourish, a prolific pen, and a peculiar, sharp, but affable style.

    He passed his CSS exams, but left the income tax service for journalism in the 1960s. At the Pakistan Times, he served under Khawaja Asif, one of the finest editors this country has produced, who polished his writings and tamed his exuberance. Khalid settled down to write tantalisingly fresh and lively columns, full of humour, gibe and barbs that attracted instant attention in the country. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was so impressed by Khalid’s sharp intellect and provocative views that he named him his first press secretary after assuming power in December 1971.

    Earlier, Khalid had also covered the stormy UN Security Council session, which was held while the Indian army was advancing towards Dhaka. In his subsequent columns, he stoutly defended Bhutto against persistent slander that he tore away the Poland resolution, which is erroneously touted as the last attempt to save the Pakistan Army from surrender. While even China opposed the resolution for being anti-Pakistan, Bhutto had only shredded the notes he had before him after delivering a strong speech.

    I had my first interaction with Khalid in the 1960s when he and another enterprising journalist, Salahuddin Mohammad, were running the Feature Syndicate. I was with the APP in Multan and Khalid asked me to write a feature on a beggar camp, where scores of kidnapped youth were forced into bonded labour. He appreciated it profusely, and we kept in touch since.

    When Bhutto called a meeting of scientists in Multan on January 20, 1972 and launched the country’s nuclear programme, only three journalists were allowed — Khalid, Masood Ashar and myself. There, Bhutto declared: “I want nuclear fission within three years.”

    Khalid was often asked questions by the western media about this meeting. In 1978, he was also interviewed in the infamous documentary, Islamic Bomb. He faithfully related the episode but the documentary twisted it. For years, he had to face the wrath of Pakistani agencies for what he had said.

    Khalid authored 35 books but he will be best remembered for his brilliant English translations of the verses of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, the short stories of Saadat Hasan Manto, and many other distinguished writers.


    Two of these were short stories written by Masood Ashar in his collection Ankhon Par Donun Hath. These were based on a series of letters I had written to Masood Ashar while I was in East Pakistan covering the nightmarish military operation of March 1971 as an ‘embedded’ correspondent. These letters offered a glimpse into the carnage that culminated in the disintegration of Pakistan.

    Khalid upheld the finest professional standards of integrity, objectivity and deep research. He would go the extra mile to gather and verify facts, and fully observe journalistic norms while attending press conferences, briefings and interactions with political figures. His strong commitment to professional ethics is best depicted by his reaction to Iraqi journalist Muntazir al-Zaidi lobbing his shoes at President Bush. It was cheered around the world. But Khalid looked at the sordid side of the episode as well:

    “As a journalist, I have reservations about the Iraqi journalist’s action. A working journalist is permitted close physical proximity to presidents and prime ministers in order for him to perform his professional duties. He must not misuse that privilege or employ it to push his personal or political agenda. Therefore, regardless of what al-Zaidi or the rest of us think of President Bush and his policies, what the man did was wrong. He abused and betrayed the trust that had been placed in him. Journalists should use their pens and their cameras, not their shoes, to express themselves.”

    Some of his columns have lasting effects. About anthropologist-turned film producer and diplomat Akbar Ahmed, Khalid wrote a memorable column “Anthro-Panthro Akbar Ahmed”. Both later became friends and together we went to Los Angeles for the premiere of Akbar’s film Jinnah. Though Akbar boasted that it could be rated between Gandhi and Lawrence of Arabia, both of us thought it was more a feature-cum-documentary with very few dramatics. When Indian films invaded the cinemas showing heroines with bare midriffs, Khalid wrote a beautiful column captioned “Navel Attack”.

    He was a great lover of music and had an excellent collection. Once, a columnist mixed up music director Master Madan, who died at the young age of 14, with music director Madan Mohan, I wrote to him to make the correction, which he did. I also sent a copy to Khalid, who said he had all six songs that Master Madan had sung, and sent them to me. Madam Nur Jehan was his great admirer, and often asked him to write her biography. He did an excellent obit piece when she died.

    I have lost my friend, partner, teacher, critic, comrade. It is not going to be an easy transition. *
     
  3. RabzonKhan

    RabzonKhan SENIOR MEMBER

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    PERISCOPE: Requiem for a raconteur

    Mahmud Sipra
    February 12, 2009

    I wish I never had to write today’s column. It is about a personal loss that all of us, at some time in our lives, have to learn to deal with.

    The death of Khalid Hasan is the kind of loss I, along with countless others, will now have to learn to live with. That such a fate is written for each and every one of us in the end does not in any way diminish that sense of loss. There will be many columns written by those fortunate enough to have known him personally, along with those whose lives he somehow touched through his columns and writings. Among them will be a few written by those who KH prized both personally and professionally during the life of his times. Ardeshir Cowasjee and Ejaz Haider are two such people I happen to know that KH considered to be of that distinguished stamp.

    They both have dedicated their eulogies to him by reminding us of the human and the acerbic side of one Khalid Hasan, writer, raconteur par excellence and, above all, a kind and considerate friend.

    I addressed KH as ‘Guru’ simply because as a prolific and peerless writer, he was as quick with his lash as he was with his bouquets when it came to half-baked, ill-equipped “writers of my ilk”. My ego is still smarting from the searing reprimand I received from him on having once used this last phrase inappropriately.

    I remember having met KH in 1972 within days of his taking over as ‘press secretary’ to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. It was a cold January night, it was late, and in those days the only place in Karachi that served anything worth eating at that ungodly hour was Café Suroor at the Intercontinental.
    Samina, the mother of my two sons, was expecting our first child. She turned up her nose at the thought of having another bland burger that the swish crowd seemed to be enjoying, leaving me somewhat mystified as to how to indulge her. Enter Khalid Hasan, accompanied by Gulgee and his wife, looking to be seated in the packed restaurant. I offered to let them have our table as we were about to depart. I had met KH only once before, through his younger brother Masood Hasan, who is a friend of mine.

    Naturally, KH asked why we were leaving. I must have muttered something about the food not being to the liking of the lady in waiting or something equally banal. To my surprise, he said: “I could not agree with her more, but I do happen to know exactly the place that will serve her some real food. C’mon, let us all go and enjoy Sabri’s Nihari on Burn’s Road. Chalo.” The invitation to go slumming was enthusiastically echoed by the two ladies with a ‘chalo-chalo’ and we proceeded down the lobby towards the car park. By the time we reached our respective vehicles, KH had corralled at least six other couples to join the impromptu party. I suddenly realised how one warm, ebullient individual could light up a dark and dreary night by his mere presence.

    The next time I heard from KH was when he sent me a small note after reading of my troubles in the UK in the mid-eighties. He was genuinely concerned about some of the wild allegations that a Labour MP called Brian Sedgemore was making about me in the Commons with “parliamentary privilege”. I sent a note back to KH, thanking him for his concern and his good wishes and suggesting to him that the MP be allowed his short legend in his lunchtime status, and not to worry as the man was merely living up to the initials of his name.

    To which KH, in his inimitable fashion, promptly replied: “Bravo! Keep injecting until the patient dissolves in his own poison!”
    Years later, KH was on one of his short visits to Lahore where I was living in self-imposed exile at the time. I invited him to stay at my place. He said he accepted my invitation because he wanted to see for himself how “an alleged profligate like you lived”.


    I wanted him to feel comfortable and at home, so I pretty much left him alone. We rarely met, except occasionally over a meal and once over breakfast. I noticed he was a bit pensive that morning and then I observed him peering into my bowl of porridge.

    “Oatmeal, right?” asked KH.
    “Uh huh. Want some?” I offered.
    “No, no. I’m fine. I just wanted to see if it is the regular kind or have you, er, spiked it, to give you that extra buzz.”
    “No, it’s plain old Quaker’s oatmeal, for
    God’s sake, KH!”
    He then neatly folded his newspaper and announced in a somewhat solemn voice: “I don’t know if I should be saying this, but I think you are in deep trouble.”
    “What for, eating porridge in the morning?”
    Ignoring my insouciance, KH continued, “No. This could get dead serious, Sip. Just look at what you are putting your Man Friday here through. The man is a wreck. He is most distressed, and listening to him, so am I,” KH stated using the most sombre of tones.
    I looked at the robust, heavyset and well-fed figure of ‘Man Friday’ serving us breakfast, cautiously observing: “I didn’t know he was sick. He doesn’t look it.”
    I was totally at sea.
    “He’d probably die before he told you of his suffering,” said KH, sprinkling some salt on his sunny side up eggs.
    “That bad?” I asked, alarm bells going off in my head.
    “Ok. I might as well tell you. Let me explain. It seems that the three ladies who have come visiting you in the past three days that I have been here are all devotees of the three big saints. They being, in case you have forgotten, Data Sahib, Gamey Shah and Bibi Pak Daaman. Now, all of them go there to perform the ritual of ‘mannat’ and also to seek some divine help in achieving their ‘common goal’, if you know what I mean.”
    “Their ‘common goal’?” I asked incredulously, “and what might that be?”
    “Well!” KH gave me a doleful look, and pronounced, “To bring about an end to your bachelorhood!”
    Then, sipping his tea, he added: “And your bachelor ways, naturally.”
    “And where does Man Friday come into this?”
    “His concern is well founded. He worries for you, and being a native Lahori, he is absolutely convinced that one of these days their wish will be granted. But his real worry is: what if the prayers of all three are granted! What will you do then? Your arms aren’t long enough to box with saints! The dice of God are loaded, my friend,” KH stated with a deadpan expression.
    I suddenly lost my appetite and asked: “So what do you think I should do, KH?”
    “Leave town, Sipraji.”
    I took KH’s advice and eventually did leave town, and heard from him when I moved to Dubai.
    His very first email read: “You owe me for saving your life! I now expect to read from you, not read about you! Isn’t life full of compensations though, Sip? Cheers!”
    Cheers, Guru! Life is indeed full of compensations. What you forgot to tell me though was how one compensates the loss of a friend like you. Except to find comfort in one of Omar Khayyam’s classic quatrains:
    The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
    Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
    Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
    Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it
    We’ve not been deprived of just a great and erudite man, we’ve also lost a man who brought wisdom and wit into our lives.
    We are poorer today for not having one Khalid Hasan in our lives any more.


    Mahmud Sipra is a best selling author and an independent columnist.
     
  4. RabzonKhan

    RabzonKhan SENIOR MEMBER

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    Intellectuals pay tribute to Khalid Hasan

    By Zahid Ghani
    February 14, 2009

    WASHINGTON: Pakistani Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani hosted the memorial reference on Friday for veteran Pakistani journalist Khalid Hasan – who passed away last week at a hospital in Wahington of prostate cancer.

    Pakistani and American intellectuals, Khalid Hasan’s children, close friends, leading Pakistani journalists and American scholars on South Asia – including Dr Stephen Cohen, Dr Marvin Weinbaum and Lisa Curtis – attended the memorial reference on Thursday for the journalist, who was a Daily Times correspondent from 2002 until the time of his death. Ambassador Haqani said Mr Hasan adhered to high standards of journalism. “Hasan would often say journalists who adopt causes should not let their causes take precedence over fidelity to the truth said … in one word, I will describe him as civil.”

    The gathering recollected their memories talking to Mr Hasan at the same mission.

    Mr Hasan’s versatile brilliance lay in his profound understanding of political developments, keen study of personalities and human characters and artistic mastery of Urdu and English languages, said Pakistani and American intellectuals as they paid tribute to the legendary journalist.

    Dr Weinbaum, an expert at the Middle Eastern Institute, said Mr Hasan’s ‘humanity, humour and progressive views’ distinguished him from the rest. “He had no patience for hypocrisy,” said Weinbaum.

    Akmal Aleemi, former senior Voice of America producer and a close friend of Mr Hasan, recollected the journalist’s life, diplomatic assignments in Europe and his years in Washington when he worked as correspondent for Daily Times.

    Lisa Curtis,of the Heritage Foundation, said Mr Hasan would put the most difficult questions to experts and praised the high calibre of journalism he maintained.

    Khalid Hasan’s son, Jeffrey, and daughter, Jehan, spoke of their father’s qualities as a human being. Jeffrey showed the favourite pen of his father with which the journalist edited/authored more than 40 books. He also displayed the favourite press pass of the journalist which was issued to him in Australia for the coverage of 1992 World Cup cricket final.