Progressive journalist-poet and activists Ahfazur Rahman passed away


 Will be remembered for his integrity - struggle and commitment 

 Senior journalist –progressive activists –poet-writer and trade unionist Ahfazur Rahman passes away in Karachi on Sunday at the age of 78. The journalist community and trade union movement lost a vocal voice for their rights. He was a prominent defender of freedom of speech and expression and human rights. He was a fearless defender of press freedom, civil liberties and trade unions rights. He was a voice for voiceless and most oppressed sections of society. He never compromised his ideology and remained committed to his ideas and cause.
He was battling throat cancer for last several years.  He worked as magazine editor of daily Express as his last journalistic assignment. Ahfazur Rahman fought for the media freedom-democratic rights and for the better working conditions and wages of journalists.
 He was born in Jabalpur- India on April 4, 1942 and migrated to Pakistan along with the family and settled in Karachi. He joined leftwing National Student Federation (NSF) as a college student and remained affiliated with left movement throughout his life. He actively participated in movement against the regime of General Ayub Khan in 1960s.
He completed his masters in journalism and initially taught in the journalism department as a visiting teacher. But later he became working journalist and remained involved in journalist unions. He was an   active member of the Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ).
Ahfazur Rahman spent 16 years in China. He was inspired by the great revolution in China and leftist movements around the world and wrote extensively on Mao, Zhou En-Lai and Chinese history.
He returned to Pakistan in 1993, joining first the Jang newspaper as its magazine editor and later the Urdu daily Express in 2002 where he continued to work until 2018 when his health deteriorated.
His death is a loss not only for his family but for all oppressed people and journalist community. He had played a crucial role in defending press freedom when military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq banned the daily Musawat so much so that he had to go underground for three months and suffered imprisonment.
He worked as a subeditor for the weekly Akhbar-e-Jehan. Thereafter, he worked for several publications, including the dailies Musawat, Jang and Aman, and the weekly Al-Fatah, at senior positions such as magazine editor and assistant editor.
He also worked as Urdu section editor at the Foreign Languages Press in Beijing from 1969 to 1972 and from 1985 to 1993. Upon his return from China to Pakistan in 1972, Rahman began his activism.
He organised struggle and resistance against Gen Ziaul Haq’s regime in 1977-78-He was arrested and put into Camp jail Lahore. He was later exiled from the Punjab province for six months. In July 1978, Rahman went underground again to mobilise journalists, workers, peasants and student volunteers for court arrests.

 Under the banner of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, Rahman fought throughout his career for freedom of the press and for the rights of journalists and others working in the media. He also played a key role for press freedom and the restoration of democracy during Gen Pervez Musharraf’s regime.
He has 18 books and translations to his credit. His book ‘Sab Say Bari Jang’ is considered an honest, accurate and concise account of the days of turmoil and struggle when Gen Zia had enacted a series of draconian laws to suppress freedom of expression and free press.
Ahfazur Rehman was a man of integrity –struggle and commitment. He will be missed and remembered as a great human being and fighter who stood for freedom of press and expression and democratic rights.He was a role model for the young journalists in Pakistan who not only dared to challenge the military dictators but also to media owners. He fought for the rights of media workers-journalists and working people.  
                                                             Khalid Bhatti 

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