The legacy of Majid Nizami

In 1940 Nawa-i-Waqt newspaper was started by Hameed Nizami, elder brother of Majid Nizami, after the adoption of Lahore resolution (later called Pakistan Resolution). Nawa-i-Waqt became the voice of freedom struggle that was ultimately achieved on August 14, 1947. After Hameed Nizami’s death in 1962 Majid Nizami became its Editor and with great effort made it into an institution. Today Nawa-i-Waqt and its sister organisations like The Nation and Waqt News comprise one of the leading and the most credible media houses of the country.

Today is the third death anniversary of Majid Nizami. There are few people in the world who get recognition and become legends in their own lifetime. He was one such person who during his life witnessed fame and following that many would consider. He was icon and role model in the field of journalism.

It has been three years since he passed away but the vacuum he left behind him in the field of journalism remains unfulfilled. His journalism career spanned over 72 years, and he was editor of Nawa-i-Waqt for 52 years, making him the longest working editor in all of Asia. His brother Hameed Nizami had started Nawa-i-Waqt on the instruction of the Quaid-i-Azam as a fortnightly paper to counter the Hindu press during the Independence Movement. Majid Nizami took charge of Nawa-i-Waqt after his brother’s death in 1962. From a fortnightly, he built it into what it is today: one of the most popular and widely circulated dailies in Pakistan. In recognition of his services Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan awarded him the honour of Mujahid-i-Tehrik-i-Pakistan and as a symbolic gesture, presented him with a sword. Hailing from a humble background, he rose to become one of the most influential people in Pakistan’s history. Born in Sangla Hill, Sheikhupura on April 03, 1928, he was only two and a half years old when his father died. His mother sold his father’s shop and house to meet the education expenses of her four sons and two daughters. He had just passed his matriculation exam when his brother called him to Lahore, where he enrolled in Islamia College, Railway Road and passed his FA exams. Majid Nizami did his BA and MA in Political Science from Government College, Lahore. In 1954, he proceeded to England to study law.

During his stay in the UK he continued to work as special correspondent for Nawa-i-Waqt, and travelled all over Europe and Russia. In 1962, Hameed Nizami passed away and his younger brother, Majid Nizami became editor of Nawa-i-Waqt, as per the wishes of his brother. He took a courageous stand against the dictatorship of Ayub Khan and fearlessly supported Ms Fatima Jinnah in the presidential election. He fiercely opposed Yahya Khan’s martial law regime, and brushed aside a direct threat from Governor West Pakistan, Ameer Muhammad Khan. Nizami was considered amongst one of ZA Bhutto’s friends but when Bhutto raised the slogan of Islamic socialism and imposed civil martial law, he came under his relentless criticism. Later, Majid Nizami continued to be critical of General Ziaul Haq’s military regime.

Successive rulers have sought his advice on matters of vital national importance. In May 1998, he was one of the advisors who convinced Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to conduct the atomic tests in response to India’s nuclear tests. The tests were conducted at Chagai in Balochistan and Pakistan formally joined the club of world nuclear powers. He was fearless and never stopped himself from speaking the truth, and what he thought was best for the service of his country. After 9/11, General Musharraf decided to join the USA in the war on terrorism as a front line state. He held a meeting with editors for consultation, and asked Nizami Sahib what he would have done in his position. Nizami replied that firstly, he would never have been in his position, and that secondly, these problems arose when someone forgot their position and took undue control of power. On hearing this, Musharraf called off the meeting. It is pertinent to mention here that Nizami Sahib was offered the posts of Governor of Punjab and President of Pakistan. He refused, saying he was better off serving the people of his country by being Editor of Nawa-i-Waqt. As an acknowledgement of his great stature and services for Pakistan and the Ummah, Majid Nizami was honoured with numerous awards from organisations across the world. He is the recipient of some of Pakistan’s highest accolades that include the Nishan-i-Imtiaz, Sitara-i-Pakistan and Sitara-i-Imtiaz. Throughout his life, this legendary journalist propagated and promoted Pakistan’s ideology, especially amongst the youth. For this purpose, he laid the foundations of Nazaria Pakistan Trust and Aiwan-i-Karkunan Pakistan.

Majid Nizami was a man of principles and never compromised on the values that he held close to his heart. He had widely travelled and understood the ways of the world well. In the field of journalism he never took risks and his steps were sure and slow. For example he would always say that Nawa-i-Waqt group was not in race with any other publication. When Jang group started a magazine Akhbar-e-Jahan he dismissed the idea of starting magazine on its pattern. Two years later he started magazine Family on different pattern. It gained popularity and today is a leading magazine of Pakistan. Similarly all the publications of Nawa-i-Waqt group be it children’s magazine Phool, political magazine Nidai-i-Millat or Waqt TV all have their own unique format or pattern. They are not in race with other publications or TV channels but have their own standing and uniqueness that makes them commercially successful as well.

His legacy is being carried forward by his daughter Rameeza Majid Nizami. There has been no change in the policy of Nawa-i-Waqt group under her. Ideology of Pakistan, support for Kashmiris freedom struggle, strengthening of democracy and nationalism are still the cornerstone of the institution that Majid Nizami had built over the years. He is gone but the legacy that he has left lives on.

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