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Adieu, ZIM: unique sufi of our time

Dr. Ikramul Haq

Without an unfettered press, without liberty of speech, all of the outward forms and structures of free institutions are a sham, a pretense—the sheerest mockery. If the press is not free; if speech is not independent and untrammeled; if the mind is shackled or made impotent through fear, it makes no difference under what form of government you live, you are a subject and not a citizen —William E. Borah

Sadly, in the early hours of December 2, 2019 we lost Zafar Iqbal Mirza, outstanding journalist, popularly known as ZIM. He was my teacher and mentor when I joined weekly Viewpoint in July 1979 after studying journalism at the Punjab University. ZIM was undoubtedly an extraordinary professional and human being par excellence—ardent believer of liberty of speech, true fighter for an unfettered press, human equality and dignity and democracy. He with his pen waged a war against a tyrant and fulfilled the duty of saying truth (kalma-e-haq) before an oppressor ruler, which is a higher form of jihad. I am neither competent, nor have appropriate words to evaluate his contributions in the field of journalism. But all leading journalists unanimously hold that ZIM was exceptional and matchless and will remain so in the history of journalism.

When I joined Viewpoint with limited experience in journalism, having only worked as an intern during studied in Journalism Department [now renamed Department of Mass Communication] of the Punjab University, Lahore, for a few months in PTV and Masawat, there were giant personalities working full time under the editorship of veteran journalist Mazhar Ali Khan, namely, Ibn Abdur Rehman (I.A Rehman), Amin Mughal, Alys Faiz, Nizam Din Sahib in reference section and Ahmad Aziz Zia in administration—he used to help in editing and proofreading whenever there was an emergency and/or when we were running against deadlines. I was indeed fortunate to have had the chance to learn from such luminaries in formative period of my professional career. It was a great honour and pleasure to work with them—all kind and great teachers—and gain skills, experience and knowledge in journalism that in those days was considered a noble profession and not a business as today, devoid of established journalistic standards, norms and ethics.

My experience of working with towering personalities that included Tahir Mirza of BBC fame for a short time in Viewpoint was a rare opportunity and golden era of life. During my stay at Viewpoint [1979-84], the regular contributors included such illustrious names as Hamid Akhtar, Syed Sibt-e-Hassan, Safdar Mir, Abdullah Malik, Prof. Khawaja Masud, Aziz Siddiqui, Hussain Naqi, Shafqat Tanveer Mirza, Malik Mohammad Jaffer, Khalid Ahmad, Ayaz Amir, Makhdoom Ali Khan, Khalid Hassan and Dr. Arif Azad—just to mention a few. There were many occasional contributors as well having established repute in their areas of expertise. I learnt immensely from their writings and witnessed how ably and skillfully ZIM used to do marvellous sub-editing job of their contributions on which they never raised any objection, rather praised him for improving their work. The same was true for I.A. Rehman, a man with multiple talents—my mentor and teacher. Amin Mughal and Alys Faiz were so proficient in writing that few could match their stature. They also taught me the art of journalism with great affection and dedication. I am grateful to all of them.    

Amongst regular visitors of Viewpoint during my days were great journalist Nisar Osmani [next door neighbour of our office and bureau chief of Dawn], F.E. Chaudhry [respectably called Chacha Chaudhry], Dr.  Mubashir Hasan, Habib Jalib, Ahmad Bashir, Akhlaq Ahmed Dehlvi and  Husain Naqi, who joined full time after I left on 18th October 1984 to join Civil Services of Pakistan. The team after me also included illustrious names like Khawar Mumtaz, Cassandra Balchin, Maria Del Novo and Zafaryab and may be some other I do not know as after leaving I used to visit rarely the office of Viewpoint due to official preoccupations and postings outside Lahore. At Viewpoint I also had the rare honour of meeting great revolutionary, Dada Amir Haider, and many populist leaders such as Ghous Bux Bizenjo, C.R Aslam and Abid Hassan Minto.

ZIM remained associated with Viewpoint as employee or contributor from its birth in August 1975 to unfortunate closure in April 1992. All these years, Viewpoint with galaxy of intellectual-cum-highly-competent-innovative journalists was an academy and centre of resistance to undemocratic forces and religious bigots.

According to ZIM, “the magazine [Viewpoint] was born in poverty and died in greater poverty”. He always adored his association with Viewpoint and Mazhar Ali Khan. Money was never his consideration—it was his unshakeable faith in higher values of journalism and firm commitment for a cause for the oppressed that he loved working for a magazine that became torchbearer of truth and resistance against the forces of oppression and obscurantism. Between 1979 and 1982, ZIM was also associated with The Muslim—served as its Editor as well. He also served as assistant editor of Dawn [1983 till 2000] before becoming resident editor of the Lahore in June 2000. Earlier, he served as a correspondent for The Pakistan Observer in 1970-71, worked as a scriptwriter for Radio Pakistan and for PTV apart from writing for The Frontier Post, Peshawar. 

I became the blue-eyed boy of Mazhar Ali Khan and all others collogues when all of them were arrested by dictator General Muhammad Ziaul Haq in the wake of hijacking of plane on March 2, 1981. In those moments of crisis, I, with the help of ZIM [in those days he was working part-time with Viewpoint and was bureau chief of The Muslim having a small office in Faletti’s Hotel Lahore]. Together we endeavoured successfully preparing and printing the Viewpoint in time without any interruption and no compromise on quality—keeping the legacy and hallmarks of Mazhar Ali Khan alive.

It was ZIM who helped me as lone fighter at 4-Lawrence Road, office of Viewpoint, after the arrest of all senior, to keep the torch of enlightenment rekindled and ensure the readers that nobody, not even the ruthless dictator like Zia, can gag the voice of freedom and resilience. He rendered extraordinary efforts to make it possible that in the absence of stalwarts—Mazhar Ali Khan, I.A Rehman and Amin Mughal—the weekly remained as vocal as before taking despot, Zia ul Haq, and his cronies to task. The tyrant and autocrat, Zia, was resisted by all of us courageously. It inspired millions and their faith in democracy got rekindled. Even in the worst days of censorship [we were to take each page to men in uniform, with readers wondering why so many empty spaces appeared on each page], ZIM and colleagues in jail knew the art of writing “between the lines”—it was Mazhar Sahib’s forte who used this title for his regular feature other than writing editorials most of the time—to raise a voice against the military rule  and show solidarity with those suffering the worst oppression as political adversaries of General Zia and his cronies, defenders and allies.

When Mazhar Sahib and others were in jail and yet not started sending write-ups clandestinely, ZIM wrote commanding and authoritative editorials and columns under the title—Between the Lines. He demonstrated extraordinary skills and acumen—as well as depth of knowledge. He was a jewel, simply marvelous. His handwriting was so beautiful that there never was the need of typing, enabling Mr. Karmat [early employee of Pakistan Times] at linotype to compose the directly from his hand-written papers.

ZIM’s command over English was highly commendable—he was eloquent and stylish, not pedantic, simple sentences and phrases with ability to impress the common readers and intellectuals alike. He had a rare talent of writing—almost rare these days. Besides English, he was well-versed in Urdu and Punjabi. He was an ardent reader, a great writer and above all a great human being—a Sufi with a unique style that cannot be explained in words. He was least pushed about worldly gains, not even bothered to be recognised as an outstanding journalist worthy of state award that he undoubtedly deserved. Besides working daily with him in office, I enjoyed his company in the later hours as well. Those were blessed moments. He was a great company, amazing conversationalist, open hearten, simple soul, polite, compassionate and emphatic. I have lots of memories to share—the evenings we spent together and with many friends, notable among them was Ayaz Amir, whenever he was in Lahore. These, I will narrate in some future writings. This is a humble homage for a great human being, scholar and journalist, who used to take pride to be called pacca [staunch] Lahori.

ZIM is no more with us physically, but will remain alive in the hearts of all those who ever met him or read his great columns etc. In this write-up, I just want to highlight an aspect of his personality that remains untold—most of the writers after his death are only praising him as master of the pen, an intellectual and journalist quintessential. Very few people know about his love for literature and humanity at large. He was keen reader of all leading sufi poets of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, Ghalib, Iqbal, Faiz,  Hafiz and Saadi Sherazi and many others, in fact all great English/Urdu/Punjabi/Persian writers/ He also had insatiable quest to know about history of Lahore. His columns on Lahore as Lahori testify to it. His journalistic career of 42 years is simply a story of inspiration and devotion.   

ZIM, indeed, was a brilliant thinker with an extraordinary creative mind—he was unique from all journalists of his time. Not only are his contributions to journalism, literature and profession unmatched and everlasting but his loving personality will forever remain a source of inspiration for many. History will remember him as a highly dignified man, who never compromised on principles. He was modest to the core, dedicated and a man of integrity and loyal friends to all he became acquainted. He was friendly with everyone—age or any other consideration was totally irrelevant—and more importantly, benevolent towards all, irrespective of their social standing. Personal grudge, enmity and malice were alien concepts for ZIM.

He was a firm and faithful practitioner of his truthful ideas which he never compromised for his personal benefits. Ardent defender of love, peace and justice, through his strong writings he waged a relentless struggle throughout his life to side with the downtrodden and to present their case.  Equal opportunities for all, freedom of thought, work and love were his passions in life. His greatness lay in his commitment and practice of those ideals. He, unlike many others, was not a cliché-monger. He once said to me: “Dear Ikram, I loathe those who pay lip service to moral values but act otherwise”. Hypocrisy was totally unacceptable to him.

His knowledge of cricket was immense. I learnt a lot from him and cannot pay back except to write these few lines to tell Pakistanis what a great person ZIM was. In him we have lost not only a great and committed journalist but a son of the soil who was always concerned with the future of his countrymen—especially the less privileged and victims of oppression and injustice.  

ZIM spent his entire life as a true believer of human values—justice, forgiveness, love for all, quest for knowledge, concern for the oppressed, fairness towards all, and professional integrity. Art of loving was both his forte and nature—he was an authentic being having unshakeable belief in his own self and his cherished ethical norms. His self was nafis-e-mutmainna (highly content soul)—a mere dream for majority of human beings. He was an epitome of selfless love and all-pervasive kindness. Beneficiaries of his benevolence and love were all and sundry—no discrimination whatsoever: relatives, friends, co-workers and even strangers. He was a rare gem in the Land of Pure where majority of the people have their own axe to grind.

Modesty, humbleness and compassion were personified in ZIM’s extraordinary personality which was both charming and charismatic. His words reflected wisdom and his actions betrayed inspiration. He never showed pessimism, his criticism of the system and corrupt practices was never tainted with negativity, with full optimism, he aspired for change and reforms. Cynicism never crept in his thinking. His positive attitude towards life, firm hope for a better future, inspired and motivated all those who knew him or read his work.

In his life and work there are many things worthy to be cherished and praised. Few can match his class in contribution to journalism through his writings that can be compiled in many volumes. He was enthusiastically committed to see Pakistan a truly democratic and egalitarian State. For this cause, he played his due role through writings and standing up against all the dictators—military and civilian alike. He was a zealous optimist who was fond of revolutionary poets, especially Faiz Ahmad Faiz. One day, he cited with passion the following lines of Faiz Sahib when we were at his Model Town’s B Block residence enjoying a gathering of young revolutionary students who came to express solidarity after the arrest of the entire staff of Viewpoint, except ZIM and me:

Qafas hai bas meiñ tumhaare, tumhaare bas meiñ nahiñ

Chaman meiñ aatish-e gul ke nikhaar ka mausam

Bala se hum ne na dekha to aur dekhenge

Furogh-e gulshan-o saut-e hazaar ka mausam

The prison may be yours, yet you do not control

The season of the flowering of the bright rose

What if we don’t see but the ones following us will

Witness blossoming gardens, enjoy ditties of the nightingale

For us, who were very close to ZIM, he was a legend, though he wanted to remain gumnaam [fameless]—not shy as many say but consciously avoiding the limelight. Cheap popularity, vulgar ostentation of wealth and unrestrained power were loathsome for ZIM.  He was lucky to secure enviable recognition during his life time in a society notorious for not acknowledging the work of authentic people and where hypocrisy and sycophancy are praised and promoted. Recognition of his rare talent and popularity abroad, especially among leading journalists of India, and elsewhere made ZIM more humble. For what he received as fame and appreciation, any ordinary immortal would certainly turn to be arrogant, but he showed not even an iota of it. He was so humane and unassuming that even a novice in the field of journalism would not feel uneasy in his company. This was where his real greatness lay.

ZIM will continue to live in the hearts of many but no one will be able to fill the void left by his departure. For me he was not only a mentor and friend but a fatherly-figure as well, whose existence was like a protective shield.


The writer, former full time-time journalist and ex-Civil Servant, is Advocate Supreme Court and Visiting Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).

Note: For further research on journey of VIEWPOINT, its staff and persons associated with it please read:

  1. Pakistan: The Barren Years: The Viewpoint Editorials and Columns of Mazhar Ali Khan 1975-1992 Hardcover – January 7, 1999: https://www.amazon.com/Pakistan-Viewpoint-Editorials-Columns-1975-1992/dp/0195790049
  2. When her husband, the journalist and lifelong activist Mazhar Ali Khan, died in January 1993, there was a deluge of glowing obits, both here and abroad. In life as in death, Tahira Mazhar Ali Khan is no less cherished, and for me as for many others, she was a beacon of inspiration, a pillar of strength and a bastion of hope: https://www.thefridaytimes.com/tahira-mazhar-ali-khan-1925-2015/
  3. This is the story of Tahira and Mazhar Ali Khan, fellow idealists, humanists, activists and Communists who shunned a life of wealth to work for the betterment of the working class and for women’s rights: http://www.goodtimes.com.pk/memorable-romance-tahira-mazhar-ali-khan/
  4. “It sometimes seems the more channels there are, the less there is to watch,” says Mahir Ali. For the readers of Pakistan’s English press, he hardly needs an introduction. He writes a weekly column for Dawn that simultaneously also appears on famous left-wing site Znet. Presently, based in Sydney he is working with The Australian. In an interview with Viewpoint, he discusses the state of Pakistani media. Read on:http://shamsulislamnaz.blogspot.com/2010/09/profit-is-primary-concern-for-media.html
  5. Mazhar Ali Khan later became a famous journalist and held various editorial posts in Pakistan Times and Dawn before editing his own publication, Viewpoint, until he died. Tahira has two sons and a daughter. Her elder son, Tariq Ali, is a renowned writer and her younger son, Maher Ali, is a journalist in Australia: https://www.thenews.com.pk/tns/detail/555979-state-needs-clarity-good-governance-tahira-mazhar-ali
  6. Tahira Mazhar Ali has struggled for human and women’s rights for more than 60 years. Her father, Sir Sikander Hayat Khan, was the prime minister of united Punjab from 1937 to 1942 and her mother was daughter of Nawab Muzaffar Ali Khan, a prominent landlord of Punjab. She studied at Queen Mary School, Lahore, and was married to Mazhar Ali Khan, a student leader, when she was around 16. Her political activity began after her marriage, at a time when it was compulsory for a political activist, especially of the Communist Party, to work at grassroots level for at least two years: https://www.thenews.com.pk/tns/detail/555979-state-needs-clarity-good-governance-tahira-mazhar-ali
  7. Tariq Ali is a socialist writer and broadcaster who has been particularly active in anti-imperialist campaigns, from Vietnam to Iraq. Born and brought up in Lahore, Pakistan, for many years he has been based in London where he is an editor of New Left Review. He is a speaker, filmmaker, playwright, and novelist. He is the author of many books including “The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power”, “The Obama Syndrome”, and “On History”: http://internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?auteur392
  8. One of the great things she and Mazhar Ali Khan achieved was the development of their home into a nursery for free development of intellect. A strict disciplinarian that Mazhar Ali Khan was he could not prevent his children and grandchildren from exercising their political options and choosing their own ways of living and this was most probably due to Tahira’s success in grounding political idealism in love for ordinary human beings: https://www.thenews.com.pk/tns/detail/558316-tahira-mazhar-ali-khan-a-fighter-at-the-barricades
  9. She married her cousin Mazhar Ali Khan when she was 17. They remained lifelong political activists. Tahira has left behind a daughter, Tauseef Hyat, and two sons, Tariq Ali, a renowned left-leaning writer, and Mahir Ali, a journalist: http://www.aboardthedemocracytrain.com/veteran-leftist-activist-tahira-ali-laid-to-rest
  10. 1.History of Pakistan by Ayesha Jalal: https://books.google.com.pk/books?id=xzGOBAAAQBAJ&pg=PA414&lpg=PA414&dq=Mahir+Ali+Khan+Viewpoint&source=bl&ots=wSzRFNvmH2&sig=ACfU3U3vkClelB2wx-5WHksGfrQCoj6pRA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwinypyQ9e7mAhWdD2MBHS3WAb8Q6AEwAXoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=Mahir%20Ali%20Khan%20Viewpoint&f=false
  11. We condole with Tariq Ali, Mahir Ali, Kamila Hayat and all members of the bereaved family and the countless friends and admirers Tahira Baji has left behind to mourn her death: http://sacw.net/article10898.html
  12. My fascination with the Viewpoint began quite early before I landed in Lahore around September 1983. In Chakwal, my hometown, I was one of the few buyers of the magazine between 1979 and 1982: https://www.thenews.com.pk/tns/detail/564242-world-viewpoint
  13. WHILE observing the centenary of the birth of Mazhar Ali Khan, one of Pakistan’s most outstanding newspaper editors, the journalist community would do well to recall, and if possible to reaffirm, the traditions of independent and public-spirited journalism that he and his fellow pioneers had nourished: https://www.dawn.com/news/1339583
  14. I.A. Rehman sahib worked there before he was appointed the chief editor of the Pakistan Times when Benazir Bhutto came to power after the death of Ziaul Haq. ZIM sahib remained a permanent feature, shuttling between the Dawn and Viewpoint offices. In fact, there was much toing and froing between the two-respectable publications, stationed within a stone’s throw of each other: https://www.thenews.com.pk/tns/detail/564242-world-viewpoint
  15. It was, if serves well, the fall of 1979. I, and a university fellow, Muzammil Ahmed — who has recently retired as PTV Director News, had gone to see another classmate (Dr) Ikramul Haq – author of a couple of fine books on taxation in Pakistan, at the offices of weekly Viewpoint. Ikram used to write Students Corner piece in the magazine. We were talking (loudly) as we entered in the compound of the building. Ikram put a finger on his lips signalling us to be silent. “This man does not like noise,” he whispered pointing to a dingy room where a sober-looking elderly figure of a typical editor was visible. “Who is he,” I asked. “ZIM”, Ikram replied and hurried to add in a lighter vein, “you may also call him a djin (genie),” he explained that the man was capable of miracles in the newsroom: https://www.thenews.com.pk/tns/detail/579985-the-salt-of-the-earth
  16. Amin Mughal was born in the Punjab in 1935 and has lived in England as a political exile since 1984. He is a critic of Urdu and Punjabi literature. He taught English at Islamia College and Shah Hussain College in Lahore. As a leader of the National Awami Party, he was imprisoned a number of times. He worked for the weekly magazine Viewpoint in Lahore and was editor of Awaz, an Urdu daily published in London: https://www.arcpublications.co.uk/writers/amin-mughal
  17. In the wake of General Zia ul-Haq’s military coup against Bhutto in 1977, Alys followed Faiz into exile in Beirut, from where she wrote regular dispatches to the radical weekly Pakistan paper Viewpoint; these were later collected into the anthology Over My Shoulder (1991): https://www.theguardian.com/media/2003/mar/25/pressandpublishing.guardianobituaries
  18. When I joined Viewpoint with limited experience in journalism, having only worked as an intern during studied in Journalism Department [now renamed Department of Mass Communication] of the Punjab University, Lahore, for a few months in PTV and Masawat, there were giant personalities working full time under the editorship of veteran journalist Mazhar Ali Khan, namely, Ibn Abdur Rehman (I.A Rehman), Amin Mughal, Alys Faiz, Nizam Din Sahib in reference section and Ahmad Aziz Zia in administration—he used to help in editing and proofreading whenever there was an emergency and/or when we were running against deadlines. I was indeed fortunate to have had the chance to learn from such luminaries in formative period of my professional career. It was a great honour and pleasure to work with them—all kind and great teachers—and gain skills, experience and knowledge in journalism that in those days was considered a noble profession and not a business as today, devoid of established journalistic standards, norms and ethics: https://surkhiyan.pk/adieu-zim-unique-sufi-of-our-time/
  19. Much has been written about Zafar Iqbal Mirza, better known as ZIM, the proverbial last man who recently returned to the pavilion after a memorable journalistic knock. His family, friends and a legion of admirers have reminisced about various facets of his life, especially his command over the English language and passion for cricket – both of which are believed to be inextricably linked in the subcontinent – and his association with Lahore, a beloved city: https://www.dawn.com/news/1521020
  20. Mazhar Ali Khan recounts events of that fateful day in April 1959 when Pakistan’s press suffered its most grievous blow: https://www.dawn.com/news/1370051/ayubs-attack-on-progressive-papers
  21. On 2 April 1992, magazine Viewpoint, brought out by Mazhar Ali Khan, was closed down: http://www.journalismpakistan.com/do-you-know.php?pageid=do-you-know
  22. The Pakistan Paradox: Instability And Resilience By Christophe Jaffrelot: https://books.google.com.pk/books?id=gQDzCQAAQBAJ&pg=PT627&lpg=PT627&dq=Dawn+Viewpoint+Mazhar+Ali+Khan&source=bl&ots=_bglhY7x8S&sig=ACfU3U3zUnz1ndpKMthUiOKYLMWosCE9nw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjK96rah-_mAhUDixoKHQN1CvYQ6AEwBnoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=Dawn%20Viewpoint%20Mazhar%20Ali%20Khan&f=false
  23. Pakistan’s Political Labyrinths: Military, society and terror edited by Ravi Kalia: https://books.google.com.pk/books?id=IPBWCgAAQBAJ&pg=PA56&lpg=PA56&dq=Dawn+Viewpoint+Mazhar+Ali+Khan&source=bl&ots=VP4gDIXyBn&sig=ACfU3U24tweX-itXlUjKL92crDGcGpCCeQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjK96rah-_mAhUDixoKHQN1CvYQ6AEwCHoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q=Dawn%20Viewpoint%20Mazhar%20Ali%20Khan&f=false
  24. Ayaz Amir. The only thing that I ever liked doing was journalism. The rest were paths of necessity. I started off by joining the army because my personal circumstances at the time were such. After a short while, I had a brief stint in the Foreign Service but resigned from there too soon enough. And then I had nothing to do and remained unemployed. Then I started writing for Mazhar Ali Khan’s leftist weekly Viewpoint: https://herald.dawn.com/news/1153925
  25. Democracy in Pakistan: Crises and Conflicts by Kalim Bahadur: https://books.google.com.pk/books?id=ND9yNyTpntYC&pg=PA45&lpg=PA45&dq=Khawar+Mumtaz+Viewpoint&source=bl&ots=CcmPhPwqzY&sig=ACfU3U04_VJfvptEqVnbVPz2aa_qi3OZ1A&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwinyt60ie_mAhVKxoUKHR1bDqoQ6AEwCHoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=Khawar%20Mumtaz%20Viewpoint&f=false
  26. Masood Ullah Khan, a friend of ZIM shared ZIM’S first love was journalism. During Pakistan Times he was well aware of the restrictions. After he came out from Pakistan Times, he freely wrote. His headlines like “Wait until dark and Larkana till night” were talk of the town. It was a fun to be there. He was fond of radio. His favourite song was “Hum toh muhabbat karay ga” vocalised by Kishor Kumar” said he. Zim was backstage man for everyone. Before understanding ZIM first you need to understand Lahore, said Hussain Naqi: https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/579719-zim-paid-rich-tribute
  27. IA Rehman said young ZIM replaced Mian Nizamuddin who was pioneer of reference section. ZIM was different. He disliked bogus persons: https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/579719-zim-paid-rich-tribute
  28. ZIM was undoubtedly an extraordinary professional and human being par excellence—ardent believer of liberty of speech, true fighter for an unfettered press, human equality and dignity and democracy. I am neither competent, nor have appropriate words to evaluate his contributions in the field of journalism. But all leading journalists unanimously hold that ZIM was exceptional and matchless and will remain so in the history of journalism: https://nayadaur.tv/2019/12/adieu-zim-a-unique-sufi-of-our-time/
  29. Zafar Iqbal Mirza, or Lord ZIM as we called him, is not dead. His ideas and his very being live within all those who knew him … and knew him well. He was fond of saying: “Banday da kee ay” … and the line that followed is unprintable: https://www.dawn.com/news/1521168/why-lord-zim-is-not-dead-his-spirit-continues
  30. The independent weekly Viewpoint was launched on Pakistan’s Independence Day in 1975, with the intention of filling a void in the English-language press. The advent of the country’s third martial law less than two years later, thrust upon it an unexpected role. With much of the remainder of the media either collaborating with the military rulers or coerced into submission, Viewpoint evolved into a focus for pro-democracy dissent – and, amazingly, succeeded in conveying rational opinions even during the phase of rigorous press censorship. The authorities were considerably less subtle in making clear their displeasure, and at one point virtually the entire senior staff found themselves behind bars, with the inhospitable environs of Lahore’s Central Jail serving as an unusual setting for the editorial conferences that Mazhar Ali Khan occasionally was able to convene: https://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/1192099
  31. Iconic journalist Zafar Iqbal Mirza — popularly known as ZIM based on his initials or by his pen name Lahori — breathed his last in the early hours of Monday morning after a pneumonia attack that came at the back of his long persisting lungs’ complications. He was 83: https://www.dawn.com/news/1520094
  32. Veteran journalist Zafar Iqbal Mirza, or ZIM as he was affectionately called, was fondly remembered at a reference held at the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA). The event was aptly called “Last Man In”– a title he chose for a book of his columns he used to write under the pseudonym Lahori: https://www.dawn.com/news/1520898
  33. Khawar Mumtaz also spoke about her time spent with ZIM in Viewpoint, saying he always had a twinkle in his eye. “Initially, I did not understand who this disheveled, unkempt person was,” she laughed. “In fact, I remember how Auntie Alys (Faiz) used to get annoyed at him.”–https://www.dawn.com/news/1520898
  34. Salima Hashmi added that her mother would probably be irked mostly at his appearance: she wanted him neat and shaved when coming to office but he refused to do so. “But as a journalist, my mother was a great admirer of his work, so we can say there was a love-hate relationship!” https://www.dawn.com/news/1520898
  35. Dr Akmal Hussain also spoke appreciating ZIM’s resistance to the status quo and dictatorship through a fine selection of words: ttps://www.dawn.com/news/1520898
  36. Mazhar Ali Khan, the legendary editor of The Pakistan Times, had founded the radical weekly the Viewpoint in the early days of Zia’s dictatorship — a time when the soul of journalism was tested. The weekly was founded at a time when Pakistan was going through the worst period of press censorship as amply chronicled by Zamir Niazi : https://www.thenews.com.pk/tns/detail/564150-idea-editor
  37. Mazhar Ali Khan nurtured Ayaz Amir, Zafaryab Ahmed, Imtiaz Alam, Khaled Ahmed, Cassandra Balchin and Adnan Adil: https://www.thenews.com.pk/tns/detail/564150-idea-editor
  38. One such decision was assuming the charge of the editorship after the Progressive Papers Limited was taken over by the government in 1959. Faiz Ahmed Faiz was sent to jail after the declaration of the martial law in the country and Mazhar Ali Khan, the next in line, refused to take over the editorship and went home instead in protest. The baton passed on to Ahmad Ali Khan who decided to stay on for three years. He calls this a mistake that he has regretted ever since: https://www.thenews.com.pk/tns/detail/558817-life-of-a-journalist-ahmad-ali-khan
  39. Viewpoint (Weekly) Lahore, Pakistan: https://www.academia.edu/7846520/Pakistani_English_By_Tariq_Rehman
  40. Another important figure was Shafqat Tanveer Mirza. His articles focused on the Punjabi literature. Alys Faiz was another reassuring presence who represented continuity with a long tradition of progressive struggles. Alys wrote mostly on women and human rights issues: https://www.thenews.com.pk/tns/detail/564242-world-viewpoint
  41. Dr Tariq Rahman with his occasional short stories (how many of you know his first outing was as a short story writer). Yet, somehow, columnists interested me most. The name of GM Asar stands out quite clearly in my memory for his literature-inclined columns. The column, I think, was titled the Margalla Notes. Then onwards, I have been remained wedded to columnists. This led to some new columnists which included Mohammad Idrees, Khalid Hasan, Khaled Ahmed and Ayaz Amir: https://www.thenews.com.pk/tns/detail/563961-writers-columns
  42. The story of CIA’s plans for developing biological weapons in Pakistan through its undercover David Nalin was published in weekly Viewpoint of Lahore in its edition of 1st June 1980: https://fp.brecorder.com/2011/09/201109161232080/
  43. Writer and journalist Shafqat Tanveer Mirza (STM) taught at Shah Hussain College until it was nationalised. After Imroze was closed down, he joined the weekly Viewpoint before joining Dawn in mid-1990s: https://tribune.com.pk/story/468965/shafqat-tanvir-mirza-passes-away-lahore-city/
  44. Good Books opened by Tariq Ali: http://internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article1022
  45. I had an opportunity to meet Mazhar sahib, courtesy my uncle Afzal Bokhari — a regular columnist for Viewpoint. On a bright but nippy Lahore morning in December 1987, we arrived at the Viewpoint offices. At age 17, I was still experimenting with various progressive ideas and knew of Mazhar sahib as “the father of Tariq Ali”. His younger son, Mahir, was in Peshawar in those days at The Frontier Post: http://taqimazdaki.blogspot.com/2010/05/mazhar-ali-khans-legacy-viewpoint.html
  46. No Pakistani journalist has done so with greater lucidity or profundity than Mazhar Ali Khan during the dozen years he was with The Pakistan Times from Independence to 1959, when the paper was seized by Ayub Khan’s regime. We are fortunate that a collection of his editorials from this period has recently been published. A colleague from Lahore has quoted from one of them at length in a piece last week; I shall draw from another, not so much as a tribute to a journalist of total integrity and a man of great vision, but as a reminder of how little things have changed in the Land of the Pure: https://asianstudies.github.io/area-studies/SouthAsia/SAserials/Dawn/1996/22Ag96.html
  47. I enquired from Mazhar sahib as to where could one find Tariq Ali’s book “Trotsky for beginners”. His smile broadened and with a hand on my shoulder, he said “yeh to aap Tariq se hi poocheiN” (this is something you may wish to ask Tariq himself): http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article18860
  48. Faiz, Mazhar sahib and Aziz Siddiqui, were all at the Pakistan Times (PT) at one point. They were matchless journalists and ideologues – traits, which when combined with the towering personal integrity of each – scared the living daylights out of the Ayub Khan’s military regime: http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article18860
  49. The simple charisma of Mazhar sahib’s editorship rallied together a group of fearless journalists like Eric Cyprian, IA Rehman, Amin Mughal and Zafar Iqbal Mirza, , who made the Viewpoint an exception to the rule of submissive journalism in Pakistan: http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article18860
  50. Dr. Mohammad Taqi: References: Ayub’s Attack on Progressive Papers: Mazhar Ali Khan; Pakistan Forum Vol. 2, No 4 (Jan 1972) – Editor Dr. Feroze Ahmed), Syed Jaffar: ZAB – Can he be accused for breakup of Pakistan in 1971? : http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article18860
  51. Dr Mohammad Taqi teaches and practices medicine at the University of Florida and contributes to the think-tanks www.politact.com and Aryana Institute. He can be contacted at mazdaki@me.com–see his work on VIEWPOINT at https://lubpak.net/archives/11250
  52. Senior journalist Tahir Mirza decided to not only quit Pakistan Times and join Viewpoint of Mazhar Ali Khan on Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s advice. He left the country in the late 1970s to join BBC in London. https://fp.brecorder.com/2007/05/20070530570502/
  53. Professor Khawaja Masud was another learned contributor. His column was educative, wide ranging, outward looking, embracing Brecht, Marxism, philosophy, history and literature. https://www.thenews.com.pk/tns/detail/564242-world-viewpoint

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