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Zamir Niazi passes away

June 12, 2004


KARACHI, June 11: The well-known chronicler of the press in Pakistan, author and journalist Zamir Niazi, whose career began in 1954 when he joined Dawn, passed away on Friday morning.

He was 72. He has left behind his widow and two sons, Haris Zamir and Junaid Zamir.

He had been unwell for some time, and was admitted to hospital on Tuesday. He was laid to rest after Friday prayers in the Abul Hasan Ispahani Road graveyard.

Zamir Niazi's career as a journalist was a distinguished one. He belonged to that breed of journalists who remain committed all their lives to the ideals of journalism. He regarded it as a mission and not just another profession, as his articles and interviews show.

Mr Niazi worked for eight years as a sub-editor for Dawn. In 1962 he joined the Daily News as its chief sub-editor and leader writer. In 1965 he joined Business Recorder, for which he worked for 25 years in various capacities, including as edition in-charge and magazine editor. When he retired in 1990 he was its news editor.

He also edited two periodicals - Recorder, a monthly, and Current, a weekly. But Mr Niazi's outstanding contribution came in the form of the book The Press in Chains (1986), which was regarded as a trail blazer as no one before him had written about the travails of the press in Pakistan under authoritarian government.

The book was well received and ran into several editions. It was also translated into Urdu. Two subsequent books, The Press Under Siege (1992) and The Web of Censorship (1994), also dealt with the issue of press freedom, making Mr Niazi an authority on the subject.

He edited several books, including one in Urdu, which was on the subject of nuclear technology and its downside. This book is entitled Zameen ka Noha. A collection of his articles and interviews was also published under the title Unglian Figar Apni. He was also a meticulous indexer, a trait that helped him enormously in writing his books.

In his last interview, which took place some 40 days before his death and which was captioned "We are all Guilty", he blamed journalists, media owners and the authorities for the general decline in journalistic standards.

He was of the opinion that over the years journalists had failed to capitalize on the freedom they had won after rendering numerous sacrifices. One reason for the decline in standards, he said, was the failure on the part of media owners to invest in the training of journalists who worked for them.

He was also uncompromisingly critical of corruption and corrupting influences affecting the media, and had returned his pride of performance award and cash amount in 1995 in protest against closure of six newspapers of Karachi and failure of the government to control violence.

Talking of increasing commercialization in the media industry, he said: "The most sacred part of a newspaper is its masthead. But I think a day will come pretty soon when the masthead will be at the bottom of the first page and advertisements will be at the top.

"I hope and pray that I am not around when something like that happens." Frail and sick during his last years, he had kept going through sheer will power, and he always had time for young journalists who came for advice and guidance.

Soyem will be held on Sunday after Asr prayers at Masjid Omar bin Khattab behind Maymar Avenue in Gulshan-i-Iqbal. Arrangements for ladies have been made at his residence, 172-B, block 4, Gulsha-i-Iqbal.