Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman - The conscience of a crusader

by Mohammad Imran Ahmed
  • 23 Jan - 29 Jan, 2021
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Tribute

The above words are a befitting tribute to late Mr Khalil-ur-Rahman for his services to the country and the field of journalism. The 29th death anniversary of the founder of the Jang Group of Publications, Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman will be celebrated with respect and honour. Discussions and symposiums will be held on the life of this honourable personality of the subcontinent, who is widely regarded as the father of Urdu journalism in Pakistan.

Although Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman is not among us but he has left credible marks on the shape of journalism and politics of the country.

Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman was born in Gujranwala on July 19, 1921. His father’s name was Mir Abdul Aziz. He got his primary education from his native town, middle from Siddiqa High School, Delhi, after his family had shifted to India. He passed his secondary level education from Fatehpur High School, Delhi, while he completed his graduation in commerce from Commercial College, Darya Ganj, Delhi.

He started his journalistic career by joining a show-biz periodical Nigarkhana.

He was guided in journalism by veteran journalist Ishrat Dada. Thereafter, he launched daily Jang as an eveninger from New Delhi which was sold at a price of just one paisa in 1939. He got married on February 2, 1944, in 1947, he migrated to the newly created Pakistan.

October 4, 1947, was one of the most important days in the history of Pakistan when the newspaper Jang was re-launched from Karachi as an eveninger. But very soon, on February 4, 1948. Mir Sahib, as he was generally known, converted daily Jang from eveninger into a morning newspaper. Mir Sahib became the first editor of the newspaper. Yousuf Siddiqi was appointed news editor and columnists were Ghazi Inam Nabi Pardesi and Raees Amrhovi.

Another milestone of his life was when he brought out mini Jang from London on March 15, 1971, the first Pakistan newspaper to be published abroad in Urdu. In 1981, when Daily Jang was published from Lahore, it was the first Pakistani newspaper to be composed on computer in Noori Nastaliq and brought a revolution in Pakistani Urdu journalism.

Mir Sahib can be called the ‘shining star’ of Urdu journalism; he gave it a new look and technological advancement. A daring worker of the All-India Muslim League, Mir Sahib took part in the crusade for the independence of Pakistan. During his journalistic crusade against the fascist rulers, he was also arrested. He stayed for a night in the prison as a punishment for speaking the truth. He continued his struggle after independence of Pakistan. He understood the nature and requirement of a reader. At least in Pakistan a reader doesn’t get satisfied until he reads Daily Jang. This is largely because of Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman’s tireless efforts that Jang became a reputable newspaper in a short span of time. The standards that Mir Sahib set in both Urdu and English media will always be treated as the criteria for evaluating the performance of others. Mir Sahib was not only a professional journalism par excellence but also the ‘Sipasalar’ (commander-in-chief) of print media in Pakistan.

He founded a newspaper of a caliber which is matchless. Mir Sahib strained his every nerve to make Daily Jang an authentic and reliable newspaper. He laid the stone of an exuberant and honest journalism. He proved the words that ‘a beggar may look at a King’. He always propagated truth through his newspaper. ‘Mir-e-Sahafat’ stands at the top of the history of Urdu journalism. He gave a new tradition of journalism in Pakistan. Mir Sahib should be given credit for the fact that despite censor restriction, he had a flair to convey even prohibited news to his readers, in a unique manner, saying it between the lines, even in the face of the threats.

He faced many financial and business crises during his struggle but the man of steel never lost courage and faced these difficulties bravely. His modus of life was plain and he kept his eyes always high. Journalistic circles can never forget his personality and services for the newspaper community. Mir Saheb died on January 25, 1992, in London where he had gone for the treatment of heart ailment. His death was a shocking news that spread throughout the country like fire in a jungle.

Both national as well as international personalities have acknowledged the examples set by Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman as an asset for journalism. Some British political personalities delivered their views on the first death anniversary held in London. Gary Waller, the Conservatgive party MP for Keighley, lauded the role played by the Daily Jang in the United Kingdom for Pakistani settlers. This theme was also highlighted by the former llford PM Sir Neil Thorne, who said that Jang has helped Pakistanis in the United Kingdom to hold on to their values and cultural moorings. Tom Cox, the former Labour Party PM for Tooting said that the Jang not only had an enormous impact on people in the UK but all over the world. His two able and loving sons late Mir Javed-ur-Rahman and Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman carried on the mission of their father with a great sense of responsibility. They both recalled their father’s personality in the following words; late Mir Javed-ur-Rahman eariler said that, “I am the luckiest man who had a father with a number of qualities. My father was an ideal teacher and an ideal boss at the same time. He was the top most journalist and a superior administrator. He worked hard for Jang and had great affection for its sister publications. Mir Sahib gave our share of love to Jang and we remained deprived of it”. Mir Shakeel-ur-Rahman lauds his father’s role on his life as, “My father trained us in a way that he could not think of anything except working hard. He was only a boss while he was working in office and my mother’s role can never be neglected with regard to the success of my father.” Mrs Khalil-ur-Rahman pays her tribute as, “Mir Sahib often sustained losses to keep high the standards of his newspaper, but he never bartered his principles. His motto had been ‘truthfulness and fearlessness’. He was the creator of an era in journalism and his life was like an open book for everyone. He never confined himself to any particular party or group, and wrote for his paper, keeping himself above all these things, with the sole objective to maintain the principles and standards that he had set for the paper.” 

Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman received a number of awards for his outstanding services in the field of journalism

1978 – Gold Mercury International Award, Mexico

1983 – Merchant Navy Officer Award

1985 – Writers Forum Award

1985 – Iqra Award

1985 – Baladi Award, the UAE

1987 – Nishan-e-Behbood

1987 – Pakistan Movement Award

1987 – Quaid-e-Azam National Award

1988 – Honorary degree of Ph D, Sri Lanka

1989 – Performance Award

1989 – Quli Qutub Shah Aalami Award (given at International Urdu Conference), New Delhi.

1990 – Art International Award (Best editor-in-chief award), Dubai

MKR – A journalist and a patriot

by Nasir Chughtai

Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman was popularly known as MKR in the Jang Group. He was a thorough professional and a ‘complete journalist’. Whenever the news editor or the shift incharge discussed with him important news items, he would suggest eye-catching headlines which not only received very positive feedback but were also appreciated by the readers.

He understood the people’s psyche and was abreast of the latest public trends. In the field of journalism, MKR was a trend-setter and always came up with innovative ideas. Moreover, it was his endeavour to make Jang the most modern newspaper of the country. MKR long ago tried mono type. Then Noori Nastaliq was his great achievement for Jang. He was the first to buy this new technology for his newspaper and thus, started an era of computerised kitabat in the newspaper industry. MKR was a staunch patriot. His attachment with Pakistan was so great that he never compromised on this issue at any coast. He never allowed any news items to go in print which could hurt Pakistan’s integrity and security. However, at times he drafted news items in such a way that the news reached the Jang readers without causing any harm to Pakistan. MKR would himself scan contemporary newspapers for a comparative study and, in the light of his observation, he used to make suggestions for the improvement of newspaper. Whatever may be the condition whether it is rain, cyclone or chilly weather, MKR was always found in his office. Even on Sundays and holidays, he remained in the office from 11:00 am till midnight and after that he was available on telephone till very late in the night.

He was also a very sensitive and kind-hearted person. His sensitivity can be gauged from the fact that at the time of bomb explosions in Saddar when news were pouring in about the blast victims he almost wept.

MKR started the serialisation of translation of the Holy Qur’an first on the editorial page and then on the front page. It still continues and is a Saddqa-e-Jaria.