Younus Wasti

September 29, 2019


TODAY is the 12th anniversary of the death of Younus Wasti, a celebrated broadcaster, journalist, dramatist and Urdu critique.

After migration from India in 1947, Younus joined Radio Pakistan. This was the dawn of the broadcasting era in a newly-achieved Pakistan. Younus and his other newly-inducted colleagues under the leadership and guidance of Z. A. Bokhari and Syed Rashid Ahmed laid the strong of broadcasting. With his wit, humour, passion for Urdu poetry and inherent broadcasting talent, Younus soon became one of Bokhari’s close friends.

Sometimes later, when Younus passed the CSP exams, Bokhari didn’t want him to join the CSP. Younus resigned, joined PAF and rose to the rank of Squadron Leader. But with his literary sensibilities, he often found himself unfit for a uniformed life and secured release to work as a freelance journalist.

He shifted to Quetta, married Akbari Rehman, a professor at Quetta Girls College and joined daily Imroze. This move was a blessing in disguise, especially for people like me, who worked at Radio Pakistan, Quetta. God had gifted him with extraordinary skills for radio writing, for he was known as ‘writing for talking’. He was so speedy that he used to write an absorbing 45-minute radio drama in a single sitting!

In 1966-67 Younus joined the BBC, London. There, too, he earned a good name for himself and was soon declared the BBC’s best Urdu service producer. In 1976 I visited London on a British Council scholarship, checked into a hotel and phoned Younus.

He was unhappy, and told me to shift to his home even though I told him my hotel expenses were covered by the scholarship, but he would hear none of it. I moved to his home where I spent several enjoyable months.

Younus worked at the BBC for about 17 years and earned tens of thousands of devoted fans across the global Urdu world. Afterwards he joined the VOA’s Urdu service and permanently shifted to Maryland, US. There, too, he established himself as an outstanding broadcaster and won many awards. After several years of ill-health, retirement and admission to a nursing home Younus died after a prolonged illness on Sept 29, 2006.

Syed Abid Rizvi

Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2019