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RIP Abbas Ather: Your progressive voice will be missed amidst retrogressive landscape of Pakistani media

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Lahore (5 May 2013): Renowned veteran journalist and Group Editor of Urdu daily Express Abbas Ather has expired after long ailment in Lahore. Syed Abbas Athar was suffering from cancer ailment from a long time and hospitalized in CMH for the treatment.

He was Pakistan’s most prominent progressive columnist in the Islamnist dominated Urdu media and used to write his columns under title of ‘Kankrian’ in leading newspapers of the country. Abbas Ather was also a respected critic and current affairs analyst on a private TV channel (Express News – Column Kaar).

He left behind two wives, three daughters and two sons.

By virtue of his long struggle and service as a principled journalist, Abbas Ather was a true legend, a living history and an institution.

Passing of Abbas Ather is a great loss for Pakistan and greater for Pakistani journalism where ethics are scarce and opportunism is abound.

Journalist community will remember Abbas Ather for his services as a senior journalist and editor.

Unlike for-sale pro-establishment journalists in right-wing dominated Urdu media and fake-liberal dominated English media, Abbas Ather is known for his principled oppositions to military dictators and their toadies in politicians religious clerics and media. He authored a famous poem (PPP’s song) “Bhutto di beti aai si” as a tribute to slain Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. He couldn’t hold back his tears after Benazir Bhutto was martyred by ISI-sponsored Takfiri Deobandi militants (Taliban, Sipah Sahaba), he said that military establishment took the life of four Bhuttos (ZAB, Murtaza, Shah Nawaz and Benazir).

We (LUBP team) offer our sincerest condolences to entire Pakistani nation, journalist community and Mr. Abbas Ather’s family on his sad demise. In a country whose media is dominated by fake liberal and Islamist types, Abbas Ather’s progressive and principled voice will always be missed. A selection of Abbas Ather’s columns may be accessed at the following link: https://lubpak.net/archives/tag/abbas-ather

Video: An interview with Abbas Athar

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معروف صحافی، کالم نگار اور شاعر عباس اطہر طویل علالت کے بعد لاہور میں انتقال کرگئے ۔ ان کی عمر پچھتر برس کے قریب تھی۔ وہ کینسر کے مرض میں مبتلا تھے۔
عباس اطہر کی نماز جنازہ پیر کی شام کو ادا کی گئی جس کے بعد انہیں مقامی قبرستان میں سپردخاک کردیا گیا۔
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عباس اطہر کچھ عرصے سے لاہور کے سی ایم ایچ ہسپتال میں زیر علاج تھے اور پیر کی صبح ان کا انتقال ہوگیا۔
عباس اطہر ایکسپریس اخبار کے گروپ ایڈیٹر تھے اور ’کنکریاں‘ کے عنوان سے ان کا کالم بھی شائع ہوتا تھا۔
سینئیرصحافی اور روزنامہ ایکسپریس کے ایڈیٹر ایاز خان کا کہنا ہے کہ شاہ جی (عباس اطہر) صحافت میں نئے آنے والوں کی حوصلہ افزائی کرتے تھے اور نئے صحافیوں کے لیے ان سے بڑا استاد کوئی نہیں تھا۔
عباس اطہر تقسیم ہند سے قبل پنجاب کے علاقے جھنگ میں پیدا ہوئے اور صحافت سے منسلک ہونے سے پہلے وہ شاعر کے طور پر جانے جاتے تھے۔
عباس اطہر کو خبروں کی سرخیاں نکالنے پر ملکہ حاصل تھا اور ان اخباری سرخیوں تاریخی حیثیت کی حامل رہی ہیں۔
انیس سو ستر کے انتخابات کے بعد ذوالفقار علی بھٹو کی تقریر کے حوالے سے انہوں نے روزنامہ آزاد میں ’ادھر ہم ادھر تم ` کی سرخی لگائی اور یہ سرخی بھی تاریخ کا حصہ بن گئی۔
انیس ساٹھ کے اوائل میں انہوں نے صحافتی سفر کا آغاز کراچی میں شوکت صدیقی کے ادارت میں شائع ہونے والے اخبار’انجام‘ سے کیا۔
شاہ جی کے نام سے مشہور عباس اطہر اپنے ملنے والوں کو ایک خاص انداز ’حضور کی حال اے‘ کہہ کر مخاطب کرتے تھے
کراچی سے لاہور آنے کے بعد عباس اطہر روزنامہ امرزور سے منسلک ہوگئے۔ پھر لاہور سے نئے شائع ہونے والے اخبار روزنامہ آزاد کے نیوز ایڈیٹر بن گئے ہیں۔
عباس اطہر اردو اخبار مساوات کے ایڈیٹر بھی رہے ۔ جنرل ضیاء الحق کی آمریت کے دوران انہوں نے جیل بھی کاٹی۔
شاہی قلعہ سے رہائی کے بعد عباس اطہر نے امریکہ میں جلاوطنی اختیار کرلی اور لگ بھگ آٹھ برس کے بعد ملک واپس لوٹے اور دوبارہ سے صحافت سے منسلک ہوگئے۔
عباس اطہر نے ایک طویل عرصہ روزنامہ نوائے وقت میں گزار ۔ شاہ جی نے روزنامہ صداقت کے نام سے اپنا اخبار بھی نکالا۔
جون دو ہزار چھ میں عباس اطہر روزنامہ ایکسپریس سے منسلک ہوئے اور آخری وقت اس کے گروپ ایڈیٹر رہے۔
عباس اطہر کی شاعری کے دو مجموعے شائع ہوچکے ہیں جبکہ ان کے گیتوں پر مبنی ایک کیسٹ بھی تیار کی گئی۔
شاہ جی کے ذوالفقار علی بھٹو اور ان کی بیٹی بینظیر بھٹو کے بارے میں کالموں پر مشتمل ایک کتاب ’بینظیر کہانی‘ بھی شائع ہوئی۔
بینظیر بھٹو کی ہلاکت پر انہوں نے نظم ’بھٹو کی بیٹی آئی‘ لکھی جو بہت مقبول ہوئی۔
عباس اطہر کو ان کی صحافتی خدمات کے اعتراف میں قومی اعزاز سے بھی نواز گیا۔

http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2013/05/130506_abbas_athar_died_ra.shtml

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  • Veteran progressive journalist and poet Syed Abbas Athar Shah has passed away in the wee hours of Monday at the Combined Military Hospital (CMH). He had been suffering from cancer. 76-year-old Abbas Athar Shah was known as ‘Shah Jee’ in the journalist community. He had gone abroad for treatment and had returned with improved health. However his condition deteriorated a few months ago and he was hospitalised again. He had been on ventilator for the last few days.He was a prominent progressive critic, political analyst, TV anchor and a columnist for the Express newspaper. Shah Jee started his career in the 60s as sub-editor in Urdu newspapers and got a career boost during General Yahya’s military regime in 1971 as news editor of a newly established Urdu newspaper named “Azad”, considered an organ of the PPP.Abbas Athar was awarded ‘Pride of Performance’ award for his services to journalism.

    http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013%5C05%5C07%5Cstory_7-5-2013_pg7_15

    Athar was currently the Group Editor of Urdu daily Express and has been columnist for several other leading Urdu dailies.

    He earned fame in the 1970s as News Editor of an independent Urdu daily Azad edited by renowned human rights activist I.A. Rehman.

    It unique feature was bold, crisp and catchy headlines splashed across the page.

    http://www.khaleejtimes.com/displayarticle.asp?xfile=data/international/2013/May/international_May186.xml&section=international&col=

  • End of an era in Urdu journalism
    By Aatekah Mir-Khan / Sher KhanPublished: May 7, 2013

    LAHORE:
    Syed Abbas Athar, the group editor of Daily Express, died on Monday at the Combined Military Hospital in Lahore. He was 74. He was laid to rest on Monday after his funeral prayers were offered at 5pm at Abbas Athar Park, Tajpura.
    Shah Ji – as he was fondly known in journalistic circles – was diagnosed with lung cancer and was sent to England for treatment last year. Since January, Athar had been in and out of the hospital after he developed pneumonia, according to his older brother Fazal Hussain Shah who was at his side when he passed away.
    Athar joined Daily Express as group editor in June 2006. Despite his illness, he remained committed to his work till the very end. He had been conferred with Hilal-i-Shujaat in 2011 in recognition of his services to journalism.
    He was known for his poetic flair and play with words that resulted in the kind of headlines that got noticed. When Pakistan National Alliance joined hands with General Ziaul Haq, Tehreek-e-Istiqlal’s Asghar Khan left the alliance and Athar who was then in Daily Awaz gave the headline: Shaheen ka jahan aur, Kargis ka jahan aur.
    But he is best remembered for a headline he gave as the news editor of Daily Azad: “Idhar Tum, Udhar Hum” – a line that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is said to have said to Sheikh Mujeebur Rehman during their last meeting in Dhaka. This is now remembered as one of Pakistani journalism’s most powerful headlines.
    Family
    Athar leaves behind a wife and five children. He was a man of humble beginnings, whose father was a government servant who shifted to Lahore from Sargodha. The family took up residence in Tajpura, where Abbas was born on May 5, 1940 and lived till his death.
    After completing Grade 7, he appeared in the matriculation exam as a private candidate. Fazal Shah, his brother, told The Express Tribune that Athar was 16 when he graduated from Government College, Jhang. He got married at the age of 17 and soon after moved to Karachi. He started his career from Daily Anjam as a sub-editor.
    Journalistic career
    When he returned to Lahore from Karachi in the 1960s, he joined Imroze, then run by the National Press Trust. From there he moved to Daily Azad. By 1971, he had joined the Daily Musawaat, the Pakistan Peoples Party newspaper. He was news editor of the paper till the end of Bhutto era. As Musawaat’s news editor he succeeded where his great predecessor Shafqat Tanvir Mirza –scholarly, rational and circumspect – had struggled. The hawkers loved his headlines which resonated with a new ‘readership’. By the late 1970s, he was back at Daily Azad, brought back to life by Tehreek-i-Istiqlal’s Asghar Khan.
    Between 1977 and 1979, Athar – who also used to own a press – published a book ‘If I am Assassinated’ written by ZA Bhutto. After he continued to speak against martial law, he was arrested. Recalls Jang-columnist Mohammad Saeed Azhar, who was with him when he was arrested, “We were in a small room behind the Old Anarkali mosque from where an intelligence officer took him to the Lahore Fort.” He was later shifted to Camp Jail.
    When he was released, Abbas Athar left the country. First he went to Dubai and then moved to America “where he worked at different places – from chai khanas (tea house) to bars – to make a living”, says Azhar. Athar returned to the country in the late 1980s.
    In 1988, he started a paper, Sadaqat, with Munnu Bhai as editor. Munnu Bhai said that the paper brought together “several like-minded journalists to address progressive issues”. Journalists like IA Rehman and Hussain Naqi were contributors. “He considered himself a center-leftist and always looked to use that in his analyses,” recalled Munnu Bhai. By 1990, Athar left Sadaqat after a falling out with the owner, Munnu Bhai told The Express Tribune.
    Afterwards, he worked at the Khabrain Group and Nawai Waqt before joining Daily Pakistan. After a few years at Daily Pakistan, he once again joined Nawai Waqt before joining Daily Express.
    His decision to work at Nawai Waqt – a paper known for its anti-socialist stance – was a surprise for many but more astounding perhaps was his success at the newspaper. Majid Nizami, the paper’s editor-in-chief, says of Athar, “He made a place for himself through his professional skills. Whatever his personal beliefs, he followed Nawai Waqt’s policy while working here… [During his two stints] he never tried to impose his ideology on [the paper]. He admitted himself that it was Nawai Waqt which established him as a columnist.”
    “In my opinion there have been just two great Urdu newspaper columnists Abbas Athar and Nazir Naji,” says Saeed Azhar, “The rest are just popular columnists.”
    “His journalism was of a different class. [Even after he had established himself as a columnist] he did not want to be limited to writing columns. He remained associated with the newsroom,” says Latif Chaudhry, the opinions editor at Daily Express.
    For journalist Nusrat Javeed, Athar’s biggest success was how he changed the newspaper industry. During a time when newspapers had failed commercially, he was able to drive the business.
    “He changed this industry by bringing creativity into news-making,” he said.
    Publisher-editor Mujeebur Rehman Shami said of him, “He was also a poet you could see that in the headlines he gave. He brought in a new style of journalism that accentuated the language and improved the craft.”
    “In a country where a lot of people go hungry,” he would say of himself, “my genius is political relevance.”
    The poet
    A less known aspect of his life was his poetry. Athar did not publish a lot of his work. ‘Din Sharhay, Darya Charhay’ was the only collection he lot of his work. ‘Din Chargay, Darya Charhay’ was the only collection he published. He used to say that journalism had gotten in the way of his ‘real’ vocation: poetry.
    Among his most memorable poems were written on the death of ZA Bhutto. He also wrote Bhutto ki beti aye thi, one of the PPP’s 2013 campaign songs.
    Poet Zafar Iqbal recently wrote, “Jin logon ki shairee sahafat nay nigal lee, un main Abbas Athar ka naam faramosh nahi kia ja sakta” (Among those people whose poetry was usurped by journalism, Abbas Athar’s name can never be forgotten).
    Socially active
    This year, again, the group having his backing won the Lahore Press Club elections.
    Azhar also remembers him as “a loyal friend”. “He would go out of his way to help friends,” he said. And he took care of his workers. Azhar remembers that once when Asghar Khan was discussing Aazd’s affairs with Athar he complimented an associate editor for his editorials and then added, “But I have heard that he sometimes drinks.” Athar’s reply was, “The editorials are good, right?” to which Khan said yes. “That’s all that matters,” Athar is said to have told Khan.
    Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2013

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/545477/idhar-hum-udhar-tum-end-of-an-era-in-urdu-journalism/

    عباس اطہر کی یاد میں
    کالم نگار | تنویر ظہور
    08 مئی 2013 0
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    معروف نامور سینئر صحافی، کالم نگار، شاعر سید عباس اطہر طویل عرصہ کینسر کے مرض میں مبتلا رہنے کے بعد گذشتہ روز انتقال کرگئے۔ وہ سی ایم ایچ میں زیرعلاج تھے۔
    سید عباس اطہر روزنامہ نوائے وقت سے بھی ڈپٹی ایڈیٹر (نیوز) کی حیثیت سے وابستہ رہے اور انکا کالم ”کنکریاں“ شائع ہوتا رہا۔ عباس اطہر کو حکومت کی طرف سے پرائیڈ آف پرفارمنس بھی ملا۔ انہوں نے پسماندگان میں ایک بیوہ، تین بیٹیاں اور دو بیٹے چھوڑے ہیں۔ سید عباس اطہر نے بھرپور زندگی گزاری اور نصف صدی تک صحافت میں اپنی غیر معمولی مہارت اور قابلیت کی بدولت نام کمایا۔ عباس اطہر 12 اپریل 1939ءکو مغلپورہ لاہور کے قریب تاجپورہ گاﺅں غازی آباد میں پیدا ہوئے۔
    ابتدائی تعلیم جھنگ میں حاصل کی جہاں ان کے والد عبدالرحیم شاہ بسلسلہ ملازمت مقیم تھے۔ میٹرک اور ایف اے ساہیوال میں کیا۔ بعدازاں لاہور کے اسلامیہ کالج سول لائنز میں تھرڈ ایئر میں داخل ہو گئے تاہم بی اے کا امتحان پرائیویٹ طور پر پاس کیا۔ انہوں نے کچھ عرصہ ریلوے میں ملازمت بھی کی لیکن زیادہ عرصہ تک سرکار کی ملازمت راس نہ آئی اور کراچی چلے گئے جہاں شوکت صدیقی کی زیر ادارت شائع ہونے والے اخبار انجام میں سب ایڈیٹر بن گئے۔ یہیں سے انہوں نے اپنی صحافت کا آغاز کیا جو بالآخر ان کی وفات تک ان کے ساتھ رہی کم و بیش ایک سال کے بعد عباس اطہر کراچی سے واپس اپنے آبائی شہر لاہور آ گئے اور روزنامہ امروز سے وابستگی اختیار کر لی۔ ضیاءالحق کے دور میں انہیں گرفتار کر لیا گیا اور قید و بند کی صعوبتیں برداشت کرنا پڑیں۔ 1981ءمیں امریکہ چلے گئے جہاں 1988ءتک ر ہے۔ ضیاءالحق کے دور کے خاتمے پر وطن واپس آ گئے اور روزنامہ مساوات، صداقت، آزاد، خبریں، پاکستان اور نوائے وقت میں خدمات انجام دیں۔
    بطور شاعر ان کی شاعری کا پہلا مجموعہ 1964ءمیں منظر عام پر ”دن چڑھے، دریا چڑھے“ آیا۔ دوسرا مجموعہ ”کہا سنا“ کے نام سے آیا لیکن اسے ضبط کر لیا گیا۔ اس کے بعد ان تمام کلام پر مبنی ”آواز دے کے دیکھ لو“ شائع ہوا۔
    عباس اطہر صحافت میں میرے استاد رہے ہیں۔ 1970ءمیں روزنامہ آزاد سے میں نے اپنی صحافتی زندگی کا آغاز کیا۔ ”آزاد“ کا دفتر لارنس روڈ پر تھا۔ روزنامہ امروز سے جو صحافی نکالے گئے ان میں عبداللہ ملک، حمید اختر اور عباس اطہر شامل تھے۔ انہوں نے مل کر ”آزاد“ اخبار جاری کیا۔ 70ءکے الیکشن میں روزنامہ آزاد کی یہ سرخی ”اِدھر ہم اُدھر تم“ بہت مشہور ہوئی۔ اس سرخی کو عباس اطہر سے منسوب کیا جاتا ہے۔ دراصل مشرقی پاکستان میں عوامی لیگ اور مغربی پاکستان میں پیپلز پارٹی نے اکثریت حاصل کی تھی۔ کہا جاتا ہے کہ صورتحال کو دیکھتے ہوئے نثار عثمانی صاحب نے یہ جملہ کہا تھا جس کو عباس اطہر نے سرخی بنایا ”اِدھر ہم اُدھر تم“ عباس اطہر جب یہ سرخی لکھ رہے تھے میں ان کے سامنے بیٹھا تھا۔ گزشتہ برس پی ٹی وی پر فرخ سہیل گوئندی نے عباس اطہر کا انٹرویو کیا تو انہوں نے مذکورہ بالا سرخی کے حوالے سے پوچھا تو عباس اطہر نے گول مول جواب دیا۔ دراصل ان دنوں پیپلز پارٹی کی حکومت تھی اور انٹرویو پی ٹی وی سے نشر ہو رہا تھا اس لئے انہوں نے واضح طور پر اعتراف نہیں کیا کہ یہ سرخی انہوں نے ہی نکالی تھی۔ شاید وہ آصف علی زرداری کو ناراض نہیں کرنا چاہتے تھے۔
    الیکشن کے اگلے روز یعنی 8 دسمبر 1970ءکو روزنامہ آزاد کی لیڈ تھی جو عباس اطہر نے نکالی۔
    ”بھٹو آ گیا۔ عوام نے سوشلزم کے حق میں فیصلہ دے دیا“ نیچے لکھا تھا جو FIX-UP ہو گئے ان کی تصویریں شائع کی گئیں مثلاً جی ایم سید، ائر مارشل (ر) اصغر خان، محمد ایوب کھوڑو، میاں طفیل محمد، جسٹس (ر) ڈاکٹر جاوید اقبال۔ اخباری صحافت میں سرخی اور خبر میں جدت اور اچھوتا پن وہ اپنے تخیل سے پیدا کرنے کے ماہر تھے۔ جس سے اصل بیان اور ان کے الفاظ میں فرق معلوم کرنا مشکل ہوتا تھا۔
    عباس اطہر جن دنوں روزنامہ ”نوائے وقت“ میں ملازم تھے ان سے کبھی کبھار ملاقات ہو جاتی۔ ترقی پسند ہونے کے باوجود انہوں نے ”نوائے وقت“ میں کام کیا اور کالم لکھے۔ اس دوران میں ”نوائے وقت“ کی پالیسی کا خیال رکھا اور اپنے ایک کالم میں جناب مجید نظامی کو صحافت میں اپنا استاد لکھا اور ان سے نیازمندی کا اظہار وہ کھلے بندوں اور اپنے کالموں میں بھی کرتے تھے۔ خود مجید نظامی صاحب بھی ان کی عیادت کے گئے گئے اور ان کی نماز جنازہ میں شرکت کی۔
    عباس اطہر صحافت میں میرے علاوہ بھی کئی نئے صحافیوں کے قلمی استاد تھے جنہوں نے ان سے بہت کچھ سیکھا۔ خاص طور پر واقعہ یا مضمون کو خبر بنانے کے ہنر میں وہ مسلم الثبوت تھے۔ جناب مجید نظامی میرے استاد کے استاد ہیں۔ علالت کے دوران جرمنی سے آئے اپنے شاعر دوست طفیل خلش کے ساتھ عباس اطہر کی عیادت کرنے ہسپتال گیا مگر وہ گفتگو کرنے سے قاصر تھے۔ اللہ تعالیٰ ان کی مغفرت فرمائے

    http://www.nawaiwaqt.com.pk/mazamine/08-May-2013/200721

  • Abbas Ather passes away
    May 7, 2013 Front Page, Obituaries ppf.admin

    LAHORE: Syed Abbas Ather — a journalist, a poet and a columnist — died here on Monday morning, leaving behind his wife, three daughters and two sons. He was 78.

    Also among the mourners are countless young journalists whom he encouraged and trained, and friends as mourners. He was buried on Monday afternoon and his Soyem will be held today (Tuesday) after Asr prayers at his residence in Tajpura Scheme.

    With his career spread over five decades, he established himself as one of the finest journalists. Known for sharp headlines and writing skill, Abbas Ather wrote a few which became reference for students of journalism.

    “Apart from being a journalist, his poetic work is second to none,” says Attaul Haq Qasmi. Though he stopped writing poetry some time back still his poetry won him the Pride of Performance award. His poem “Bhutto ki beti ayi thi (daughter of Bhutto has returned) is part of the PPP election campaign and being sung on television channels. A perfect journalist, a fine poet and even finer human being: that is how one can define Syed Abbas Ather, he said.

    “His was a multi-dimensional personality,” says I.A. Rehman — noted human rights activist and his fellow journalist. Along with journalism, he was an active trade unionist who worked hard for the betterment of working conditions. He raised the stature of the newspapers he worked for, Mr Rehman said.

    Abbas Ather joined a Urdu newspaper “Anjam” in the early 1960s in Karachi.

    He moved to Lahore and joined another trend-setter Imroze. From there, he moved to a paper called Azad, which was being edited by the legendary Abdullah Malik. Later he moved to Musawat as its editor. He was incarcerated after Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was thrown out of power.

    After his release he went into self-exile for a decade and returned to Pakistan when Benazir Bhutto took over in 1988. He edited different papers (Nawa-e-Waqat, Sahafat and also launched his own paper Sadaqat) over the next two decades, and eventually landed in the newly launched daily Express in 2006 as group editor and worked for it till his death.

    That is where he started writing columns and earned another distinction.

    “He had a history of fighting for working journalists; their salaries and working conditions,” says Munu Bhai. There are only a few journalists who rose to the position of editor but still fought for working journalists. That shows the mettle of the man. “I have not seen a better journalist-turned-social worker. All his life, he helped widows, orphans and needy in whatever capacity he was able to.

    It was never a1 pre-condition to know him to invoke his sympathy; anyone in need could walk up to him and Abbas Ather would never disappoint him. The participation of (thousands of people) in his funeral was a certification to his humane, professional and social work.” President Asif Zardari, Prime Minister Hazar Khan Khoso, leaders of various political parties, journalist organisations expressed grief over his death.

    Dawn
    http://www.pakistanpressfoundation.org/obituaries/68817/abbas-ather-passes-away/