March 04, 2019
KARACHI - Razia Bhatti tried to keep the flag of independent and fearless journalism flying at a time of oppression, said I.A. Rehman, veteran journalist, and former Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).
Rehman spoke at the first Razia Bhatti Memorial Lecture at the Center for Excellence in Journalism (CEJ) here on Monday.
In his lecture titled “Speaking Truth to Power: Why Razia Mattered” he said Ms. Bhatti had no tolerance for injustice or exploitation of the underprivileged; she was a feminist to the core but against inequalities.
He added she was a born journalist, fully committed to her pen.
The Razia Bhatti Memorial Lecture series was set up last year by CEJ/IBA and the Razia Bhatti Memorial Initiative to honor the pioneering editor.
Ms. Bhatti, a former editor of the Herald, founded the journalist-owned publication Newsline with her editorial team in 1989 and was the winner of several national and international awards recognizing her professionalism and commitment. She died suddenly in March 1996.
Ms. Bhatti had only one regret, said Rehman: “After resigning from Herald magazine in the late 1980s, she was not able to bring out Newsline during Zia-ul- Haq’s era.”
While speaking about freedom of speech, Rehman said citizens in the olden days enjoyed the right to publish; the news was not curtailed even at the time of war. The right to publish was considered the fundamental rights of the press. "Freedom of expression has been there for several years, but new laws are curtailing it,” he said adding, “before there was fear of enemies but now we fear our friends.”
The former HRCP chairperson acknowledged the Centre for Excellence in Journalism for their work. "Journalism is at its last catch and CEJ is working tremendously to work for journalism."
One of the founding members of Newsline, Umber Khairi, recorded a video message which was played during the event in which she talked about the challenges plaguing journalism in Pakistan. She described Ms. Bhatti’s valiant efforts to publish the truth.
Editor of Herald Badar Alam, also a member of the CEJ advisory board, also talked about the challenges journalists face today. - A CEJ media release
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