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Senior journalist M.J. Zahedi dead

December 08, 2008

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KARACHI, Dec 7: Veteran journalist Mahbub Jamal Zahedi, a former news editor and senior assistant editor of Dawn and editor of Khaleej Times, Dubai, passed away on Sunday night after a prolonged illness. He was 89.

During a journalistic career that spanned nearly five decades, Zahedi served in several newspapers in both East and West Pakistan in key positions, besides going on assignments in Lagos, Sydney, Melbourne and Beijing. Born in Dhaka in 1929, Zahedi had his education there and entered the world of journalism in the early ’50s working for Pakistan Observer.

He came to West Pakistan in 1963 and served with the Civil and Military Gazette, before Altaf Husain, Dawn’s legendary editor and one of the Quaid-i-Azam’s aides, invited him to join the paper, where he became news editor in 1963.

Zahedi remained in Dawn till 1974 and later left for Dubai, where he worked with the late Mahmoud A. Haroon to launch Khaleej Times, one of the Middle East’s most prestigious English newspapers. Eventually he became KT’s editor, a position he held for a decade.

Zahedi returned to Dawn, Karachi, in 1991 and retired in 2001 following a stroke.

In an article written in a Dawn supplement on July 29, 1997, celebrating the paper’s 50th anniversary, Zahedi describes in detail the pressures to which the paper and he himself as news editor were subjected during the days of dictatorship and how the absence of a caption to an Ayub picture led to consequences for the paper. The most difficult period as a citizen and journalist for him came during the 1971 civil war in East Pakistan leading finally to the secession of the eastern wing. Zahedi remained a true professional and Pakistani all along.

He was an avid stamp collector, his interest in philately resulting in two books, Gulf Post: Story of the post in the Gulf and Fifty Years of Pakistan Stamps, besides articles on the subject in some of the world’s most prestigious magazines specialising in philately. They included Britain’s Gibbons Stamp monthly and America’s Scott’s Stamps.

The funeral procession will start from his residence (103 Shireen Court, near Do Talwar) at 1pm and Namaz-i-Janaza will be offered at Farooq-i-Azam Mosque, Boat Basin, after Zohr prayers.