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Departure of a torch-bearer of journalism.

The demise of Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman the founder and editor-in-chief of the Jang Group of Publications is being described as an end of an era which spanned over 70 years from his birth in Gujranwala. His demise has created a void that will leave everybody associated with the industry definitely poorer because the vacuum that has been created will be impossible to fill. From humble origins, Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman rose to dizzying heights of success.

The founder of the Jang Group of Publications had his early education at a religious Madressah (institution) and completed the reading of the Holy Quran by the time he was seven years old, following which he shifted to Delhi with his father, Mir Abdul Aziz, who was a government employee.

After attending Fatehpur High School, Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman graduated from a Delhi College and started working as a typist-cum-stenographer with a private firm. But, with his heart clearly in journalism, he joined a friend of the family, Ishrat Dada, who was publishing a film magazine called |Nigar Khana.' This was a period of extreme turmoil in the Subcontinent and winds of change were blowing. Fired by the zeal of a freedom fighter and inspired by the fearless leadership of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Mir Sahib quickly detached himself from Nigar Khana to launch the |Jang', in 1941 as an afternoon paper, in order to provide the Muslims with a voice. And no matter how humble, here were the origins of what would turn out to be one of the biggest success stories of the print industry in the region.

In a small rented office, Mir. Sahib singlehandedly wrote this success story and founded, albeit on a modest edifice, what would eventually be an empire. He functioned like a one-man task force. From the basics of production like translations, radio monitoring, editing and pasting, to taking the copy to the press - all was accomplished by his solitary self. This was not all. For, as soon the copy was printed, he would distribute it himself too. With an unflinching belief in the need for a separate homeland for the Muslims of the Subcontinent, Mir Sahib ensured that the |Jang' articulated the views of the Muslim masses and, thus made an invaluable contribution to the cause of Pakistan. Although he was even incarcerated by the British authorities on charges of writing a |seditious editorial', he continued on his path undeterred.

By the time the dream of independence was realised in 1947, the Delhi |Jang' had become a successful newspaper. Amongst the staffers were such luminaries as Syed Muhammad Taqi. Independence found him in Karachi, where he rented a shop on McLeod Road (now I.I. Chundrigar Road). And with a 5,000-rupee loan from his father-in-law, Mr. Mohammad Sultan,. he launched the |Jang' from Karachi on October 15, 1947.

With names such as Syed Muhammad Taqi, Rais Amrohvi, Shaukat Thanvi and Ibrahim Jalees associated with it, Mir. Sahib made |Jang; into a leading newspaper within two years of its launch from Karachi and there was no looking back for him. What followed with history, both in terms of financial success and contribution to the cause of Urdu journalism.

November 1959 saw a |Jang' edition from Rawalpindi-Islamabad and in 1971 the newspaper launched a full-fledged edition in London, which soon became the main source of news from home to a large number of expatriates. The very next year witnessed a |Jang' edition from Quetta. Additionally, |Jang' also began simultaneous publication from Lahore.

Mir. Khalil-ur-Rahman's personal effort propelled |Jang' to the eminent position of the largest circulating Urdu daily in the country. His dynamism did not allow him to stop at that and the Group presently is the largest chain in the country which, in addition to the |Jang', published |The News' (simultaneously from Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad), English eveninger |Daily News', English Weekly "The MAG' and the Urdu weekly |Akhbar-e-Jehan.'

Although billed as the top media tycoon in the country, Mir Sahib never lost either his touch with, or his love for, reporting. He was often seen taking notes at a function, if he felt it to be important enough and in case a reporter was not present. Thus, he led from the front and by example. He remained the founder-editor of |Jang' for over half a century. Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman used to personally make selections from the Holy Quran for publication in |Jang' every day and reiterated many times that in covering four areas - Holy Quran, Islam, Pakistan and Quaid-e-Azam, he did not even know the word compromise existed.

The passing away of Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman marks the end of an era in Pakistan journalism. Mir. Khalil-ur-Rahman may justifiably be called the father of Urdu journalism. He was not only the pioneer, but was in every sense the leader, a trend setter, a creative innovator and one who in the most adverse circumstances built up the most widely read newspaper in the country. His bold innovations are too numerous to recount. Suffice it to say that he brought modern technology to the field of journalism. He was the first to introduce an Urdu computer for his purpose. He himself did much of the work in collaboration with computer companies to invent the nastalique Urdu computer without which he could not have been able to print such large numbers of the newspaper. Each one of his innovations spoke of the faith he had in his mission to put Urdu journalism on the map of the world journalism.

In the course of his journalistic campaign for Pakistan, Mir Sahib also had the honour of going to jail. Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman hobbed nobbed with the great men of many nations who wielded power and influence, but yet he was always on the best of terms with the humblest press workers and the apprentice journalists that flocked to his papers.
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Title Annotation:founder and editor-in-chief of Jang Group of Publications Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman
Publication:Economic Review
Article Type:Biography
Date:Jan 1, 1992
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