August 09, 2021
ISLAMABAD—M. Ziauddin sahib's struggle was not just with dictators; he put up with his fair share of irascible seniors and weak media owners.
Kamal Siddiqi, a former editor at The Express Tribune, who is currently the director of the IBA’s Center for Excellence in Journalism, wrote this in a comprehensive article published by samaa.tv.
“While working for nearly sixty years at almost all the major newspapers of the country—The Muslim, The News, DAWN, The Express Tribune—Ziauddin sahib has managed the nearly impossible: to maintain a blemish-free record throughout despite skirmishes with the high and mighty, including the once all-powerful General Pervez Musharraf,” he wrote. “In this age of ‘fake’ news, unverified reporting, and slippery ethics, it is worth examining the career of Muhammad Ziauddin, one of Pakistan's most respected names in journalism.”
Immediately after Ziauddin wrapped up his master’s degree in journalism in 1966, he launched a monthly news magazine called Pakistan Spotlight. However, after about four issues, the publisher ran out of funds, and they stopped printing. Ziauddin then joined Pakistan’s only private news wire at the time, Pakistan Press Agency, which was later renamed Pakistan Press International.
Being the cunning strategist, Gen Zia targeted the very unity of the PFUJ and broke it up by sowing seeds of discord within, the author stated. The time in London was productive and enjoyable for Ziauddin, as he broke some exclusives such as the deal between Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto, and he reported prolifically, Siddiqi wrote.
According to Siddiqi, Ziauddin's exit from The Express Tribune came in 2014 after the Express Media Group fought with the Jang Group following the Hamid Mir affair. There was a story on the Tribune front page in which a leading Geo TV anchor was accused of blasphemy. Ziauddin would not have any of it. “I had the best of rapport with the management, including owner Sultan Lakhani. I had advised them not to enter into a confrontation with the Jang Group and told them that Jang has great depth and would not be unseated easily.”
“...But the actions of the group disappointed Ziauddin. He quietly wrote his resignation and sent it across. To ensure there would be no confusion, he posted a tweet as well on July 1, 2014. And that was his clean exit.”
Siddiqi, in his article, also narrated some of very interesting socio-political events of the country witnessed by Ziauddin. Some of those include: Censorship under Gen. Zia, Marshal law and Benazir’s entry, Junejo and the Geneva accord, riots at the US Cultural Center, meetings with Benazir, Mushrraf era and political tactics by Zardari.
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