KARACHI, May 8: Friends and former colleagues paid rich tributes to senior journalist Zubeida Mustafa at a gathering held to celebrate the International Women’s Media Foundation’s (IWMF) annual Lifetime Achievement Award, which she was recently honoured with.

The programme organised by Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) on its premises on Tuesday included mention of the late journalist Razia Bhatti, who won the IWMF award for Courage in Journalism in 1994.

Mrs Mustafa worked in Dawn for over three decades. She joined the newspaper in 1975 and retired in January 2009. Among the first women in mainstream journalism in Pakistan, she held positions of responsibility throughout her years at the newspaper.

“You are all co-winners. The award is for Pakistan. No individual can make a difference unless his or her efforts are backed up by a team,” said Mrs Mustafa in her brief speech.

She also dedicated her award to all journalists fighting for truth as well as those struggling for women’s empowerment. “But, I don’t believe in an exclusive women’s movement. We won’t be able to do much here without the support of men. There are many men here who believe in human rights and are fighting for the same. We need to take them along, and include them in our fight as well,” she said.

Mrs Mustafa spoke highly of Dawn’s former editor the late Mr Ahmad Ali Khan. She said that she was indebted to him for all she had achieved as a journalist as it was he who encouraged her to highlight issues of the masses.

“The power of the pen is immense but never make wrong use of this power. Do not use it for your benefit either. Be fair and verify information before you write something,” she recalled what Khan Sahab often told her.

She also praised the services being delivered by SIUT and said that it was her strong desire to help the downtrodden that had led her to this institute several years ago.

Dr Adib Rizvi, director of the institute, appreciated Mrs Mustafa’s journalistic contribution and said that she was at the forefront in the fight for legislation on organ transplantation and is now part of the campaign launched for the law’s implementation.

“I felt so happy on learning about her winning this award. Her honesty, dedication, commitment to work and professional excellence are a gift for the coming generations. The award shouldn’t be the end, but rather the start of another phase in her career,” he said.

Naushaba Burney, a former colleague, said Mrs Mustafa was the most deserving winner of the award. The honour conferred on her would surely help in improving Pakistan’s image, too, she said.

Dr Anwar Naqvi,  Khursheed Hyder and Sumera S. Naqvi also spoke on the occassion.

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