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Majid Nizami laid to rest

July 27, 2014

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Majid Nizami, veteran journalist and editor-in-chief of the Nawai Waqt Group.—File photo
Majid Nizami, veteran journalist and editor-in-chief of the Nawai Waqt Group.—File photo

LAHORE: Majid Nizami, a veteran journalist and editor-in-chief of the Nawai Waqt Group, died here at a hospital in the small hours of Saturday. He was 86.

Majid Nizami was under treatment for severe chest infection for the past three weeks. He had earlier undergone three heart bypass surgeries.

His daughter and managing editor of Nawai Waqt, Rameeza Nizami, said he died at around 2.30am on Saturday. He was laid to rest at the Miani Sahib graveyard later in the day. A large number of people, among them politicians, journalists and newspaper editors as well as owners, attended the Namaz-i-Janaza at the Lawrence Gardens.

Prominent among those who attended the funeral were Punjab Governor Muhammad Sarwar, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq and adviser to the prime minister on foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz. A number of federal and provincial ministers, retired and serving judges, and parliamentarians were also present. Mr Shahbaz Sharif later placed a wreath on Mr Nizami’s grave.

A newspaperman of the old school, Mr Nizami had an unflinching commitment to a particular ideology.

Born on April 3, 1928, in Sangla Hill, Mr Majid Nizami was the younger brother of Mr Hamid Nizami, who launched Nawai Waqt in 1940.

After matriculation, Mr Majid Nizami got admission to the Islamia College,Lahore. He was later enrolled at Lahore’s Hailey College as Hamid Nizami wished him to qualify as a chartered accountant.

But the younger brother had other ideas. He switched over to Government College, Lahore, from where he obtained Master’s degree in Political Science and then went to London to study law. From London, he would regularly send ‘Maktoob-i-London’ (Letters from London) as well as special reports for Nawai Waqt.

Majid Nizami returned to Lahore in 1962 and took over the management of Nawai Waqt on Feb 25 the same year upon the death of Mr Hameed Nizami.

In 1972, Majid Nizami was forced by circumstances to take a break from Nawai Waqt. He launched a newspaper under the title of Nidai Millat, but later on regained control over Nawai Waqt. The paper remained under his control till his death. He also launched the English-language newspaper The Nation, Family Magazine, Phool Magazine and Waqt TV.

He was the chairman of the Nazria Pakistan Trust launched by former chief minister Ghulam Haider Wyne and the Press Institute of Pakistan, which he founded for training journalists. The institute was governed by the same ideology that Mr Nizami advocated all through his years in journalism.

The late newspaperman did not compromise on his interpretation of the ideology of Pakistan. He was a staunch supporter of the Kashmir cause and of Kalabagh Dam and never approved of friendly overtures to India. And he was always ready to take up cudgels with the progressives.

With time he grew into a respected elder for various political groups, especially right-wing political parties. They would bring their disputes to him for resolution and advice. In recent times, he had strived to unite various factions of the Muslim League.

TIES WITH SHARIFS: Mr Nizami was one of the few journalists who retained friendly ties with the Sharif family during their years in exile. After returning to Pakistan in 2007, the Sharifs distanced themselves from many journalists, but Mr Majid Nizami remained close to both Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif right until his death.

“The death of Majid Nizami has caused irreparable loss to the country and the nation and a historic era has ended,” Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said while talking to reporters outside Mr Nizami’s residence on Saturday. “The void created due to his death will never be filled. Indeed he was a patriot, a true Pakistani and the custodian of geographical basis of the country.”

The chief minister remembered Mr Nizami as someone who always stood up for the ideology of Pakistan and inculcated a spirit of patriotism among the youth from the platform of Nazaria-Pakistan Trust. “He never bowed before dictatorship… and struggled for strengthening democracy and democratic values throughout his life,” Mr Sharif said.

Majid Nizami was very active at forums of newspaper forums and editors. He was elected president of the All Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS) for the years 1981-1985, 1992 and 1996-1999. He was also elected president of the Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE) for several terms. Moreover, he had the unique honour of being elected as president of both the institutions simultaneously for one year. He was conferred many national awards and was the recipient of the highest national honour, the Nishan-i-Imtiaz. Previously he had received the Sitara-i-Pakistan and the Sitara-i-Imtiaz.

APNS TRIBUTE: APNS president Hameed Haroon and secretary-general Sarmad Ali expressed profound grief over the passing away of Mr. Majid Nizami. They said that the newspaper industry had lost a staunch and consistent fighter for press freedom and democratic rights.

Qul will be held between 3 to 5pm at his 43 Masson Road, Lahore, residence on Sunday (today).

Published in Dawn, July 27th, 2014