I wrote an Urdu column “This is not my award but of my teacher” when I got an International Award from the government of Kazakhstan for promoting Central Asia and the bilateral relationship between Pakistan and Kazakhstan. On October 8, 2015, the Award of Excellence was handed over to me by the then Ambassador of Kazakhstan in Pakistan H.E. Mr. Bakhytbek Shabarbaev.
I got the award among other foreign journalists under the theme of “Kazakhstan in the Eyes of Foreign Media”.
I was the first Pakistani journalist who received this Award of Excellence from the government of Kazakhstan and I am still the only Pakistani since then. Did I get this award? Certainly not. This award was granted to my teacher, my mentor, and a man who crafted me as an Investigative Reporter, a Defence Correspondent, and a Correspondent of Diplomatic Corp. I dedicated my International Award to Rehmat Ali Razi Sahib who was my first teacher in journalism. He is no more among us but I can see he is looking at me and smiling and I can read his smile — He says Iqrar keep it up — keep working hard with dedication and honesty and I am standing behind you. Iqrar never let me down with dishonesty with your profession. Remember Journalism is not a profession rather Abadat — subjugation to Allah Almighty.
Now I got another International Award on June 10, 2021, and this time from the government of Azerbaijan for my services in enhancing the bilateral relationship between Azerbaijan and Pakistan. This time, the award was handed over by the Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Pakistan Ali Alizada and the Foreign Secretary of Pakistan Sohail Mahmood. When I was receiving my award, I could see Razi Sahib was sitting in front of me in a Hall inside the Embassy of Azerbaijan where a gathering of selected guests was present due to the COVID-19 situation. For me, the most important guest was Rehmat Ali Razi Sahib who came from far away — from the world nobody could come back. He came just to give me a smile telling me Iqrar I am with you and you are my honor.
I met Razi Sahib when I joined daily ‘The Nation’ Lahore in the spring of 1988. I was studying at the Philosophy Department of the Government College (GC) Lahore and simultaneously doing my job after college hours. My Editor Arif Nizami Sahib introduced me to Rehmat Ali Razi Sahib because I had been given the beats of Lower Courts and Provincial Administration and Razi Sahib was the Beat Reporter of both sectors in Nawa-e-Waqt. This was the beginning of a relationship that crafted me as a Reporter. He was dedicated, honest, hardworking, and a polite personality with a smiling face but a difficult teacher and a tough master who could not be satisfied with his pupil unless his student had done something out of the box and something special. I had to work extra hard to satisfy his quest for perfection and this exercise made me a Reporter who could cover anything from politics to war zones. Razi Sahib died on June 15, 2019 due to cardiac arrest and left behind his legacy of journalism of decency, honesty, courage, dedication, and hard work.
I wish to send him the following letter. Can anybody help me please? Hereunder is my letter.
I know you are living a peaceful life in Heaven or Alam-e-Barzakh (a place separating the living from the hereafter and a phase happening between death and resurrection). I know there is no stress of missing news, delayed copy to the bed, and many more journalistic hazards that make a journalist older than his/her life.
You are living away from threats, today’s journalism is facing in the world, you are protected from the dangers of being trolled on social media if you write something that does make the system happy. I know you are calm therefore I would not talk about anything serious with you. I just want to say how much I love you and miss you. I want to say that journalism is no more what you thought about and followed religiously. I just want to say to you that following journalistic norms is actually a suicidal attempt for investigative reporters and the best techniques of survival is “he said”, he emphasized”, etc, etc. Questioning what “he emphasized” is a crime in the world of journalism now. Ustad Ji, can I leave this profession?
Agha Iqrar Haroon