by SAJID ABBAS

If my nation has sensible young men like Hameed Nizami, my nation’s future is very bright,” Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah stated this while addressing the participants of the annual session of the All-India Muslim Students Federation in Jullañdhar. That was long, long ago when the struggle for Pakistan was gathering momentum.

The late Hameed Nizami commenced his professional life as an owner of a newspaper, technically on March 23,1940, the very day on which the Lahore Resolution was tabled in a public meeting held at the then Minto Park, in the shadows of the ramparts of the citadel of Lahore. The future doyen of Urdu journalism of this land founded, literally from scratch, his fortnight publication, the ‘Nawa-i-Waqt’, with the help of a couple of his friends on that momentous day, when the Muslims of the subcontinent had gathered to voice their resolve and to raise their demand for a homeland of their own.

Hameed Nizami was not new to journalism; he had learnt the ropes the hard but the right way. A Master of Arts from the University of the Punjab in English Literature he had acquired the knack of gathering and reporting news while he was employed as a young reporter with the Associated Press of India. He had spent some time as co-editor of ‘Saarbaan’, a political journal of those distant days, before becoming the manager of the Orient News of India owned by the Muslims, in the pre-lndependence days.

Hameed Nizami invariably aimed at conveying a complete and correct picture of contemporary issues, whether they were political, social or economic. His approach to highlighting issues was appreciated all the time for being distinct, lucid, to the point and on an even keel. He dared to take exception to outmoded concepts and succeed in advancing correct and rational ideas. That was what developed further as his style of writing and which remained with him till his last days.

It was with 1944, when the Ouaid-i-Azam was on a visit to Lahore after he had just expelled Malik Khizar Hayat Tiwana from the Muslim League, that he sent for the young Hameed Nizami and said to the budding journalist that he (the Quaid) wished a daily newspaper to be published from Lahore, which would be 100 percent representative of the views of the Muslim League and the Pakistan Movement.

The Quaid-e-Azam further wished that Hameed Nizaml should do the job and get going right away. That was the day when Hameed Nizami and his Nawa-i-Waqt joined the front lines of the struggle for Pakistan. But for Hameed Nizami the struggle: was not without hurdles. Right from the beginning, both Hameed Nizami and his paper had to face the ire and wrath or the government of the day.

Financial squeeze was a favourite weapon of the administration to keep newspapers in line. For close to three years, till the Unionist Government of Khizar Hayat Tiwana finally fell not a single advertisement was placed by the government for publication with the ‘Nawa-i-Waqt’. That was despite the fact that, the ‘Nawa-i-Waqt’ was neither a party paper nor an official mouthpiece of the Muslim League Party which was in opposition to the Unionist party and the Zamindara league.

The threat of financial squeeze was applied after independence, too. Besides, it was indeed ironic that a Musiim League government adopted this tactic and against a paper which had directly been asked by the Quaid-i-Azam himself to take up the cause of the Muslim League and the Muslims of this land. It happened in 1951, when Mian Mumtaz Daultana, just five days after becoming the Chief Minister of the Punjab, tried to coerce and pressurise both Hameed Nizami and his Nawa-i-Waqt to toe the official line. Hameed Nizami simply refused to bow down. As if that was not sufficient punishment to a newspaper for speaking the truth, the government of the Punjab revoked the declaration of the newspaper on technical grounds. Not only that, somebody else was allowed, rather encouraged surreptitiously, to publish a paper ‘propped up’ as Nawa-i-Waqt. That was open war. Hameed Nizami, to the charging of the government, shot his first volley in reply, by launching his Ihad. When the government tried to throttle Jihad, Hameed Nizami responded by catapulting his ‘Nawa-i-Waqt’. At last in June 1952 the government gave up the confrontation and ‘Nawa-i-Waqt’ made its proud re-appearance. This entire affair never dampened the spirit of Hameed Nizami who, a staunch believer in the freedom of the Press, brooked no curbs on its independence or censorship of its contents. He continued to endeavour tirelessly to combat the forces out to destroy the democratic principles as conceived by the Father of the Nation.

Hameed Nizami truly believed that the power of the pen was more lethal than of the gun while dealing with adversaries especially in those days when every Muslim worth his salt was involved, one way or the other, in the Pakistan Movement. If one made out a list of adversaries of the Muslim community of those days, it could have been as one’s arm. Hameed Nizam used his pen with undeviating resolution and undiminished devotion. He was straightforward, to the point, with a clear idea of what he was saying or writing about and was fearless in expressing his opinions.

That is a trait considered essential for an upright journalist. Ho belonged to that crop of journalists who were born in a period when journalism was taken very seriously and as a profession was held sacrosanct, one in which there could be no middle ground or compromises with principles.

So, when Hameed Nizami took up the cause, he already had some idea what

needed to be done; he seemed to have known what the Quaid-i-Azam desired, for he had been an active member of the Punjab Muslim Students Federation and had done a lot to propagate and popularise the programme of the Muslim League amongst the Muslim masses not only of the Punjab but of the neighbouring areas, too.

The Quaid-i-Azam had known about that and the role of Hameed Nizami in organising the groups of students who went from village to village and door to door to convey the message of the Quaid and the Muslim League, which ultimately led to the landslide victory of the Muslim League in the general elections of 1946. The leading role which Hameed Nizami and the ‘Nawa-i-Waqt’ played in the struggle for the creation of Pakistan cannot be underestimated. In the first place, Hameed Nizami rejected all such ideas that were at cross-purpose to the concept of Pakistan. Secondly, those who propagated or advanced such mischievous ideas were countered by the power of the pen that Hameed Nizami wielded. Whoever it may be, whether the so calIed religious figures or leaders of controversial political parties, nobody was spared the scathing criticism of their anti-Pakistan notions.

On the other hand, the argument for establishing an independent homeland was advanced with full force and vigour, while furthering the cause of the Muslims. Till the end, Hameed Nizami never reconciled with the politics of those people who oppose the idea of Pakistan.

Since, the inception of the Nawa-i-Waqt, Hameed Nizami believed in the freedom of the Press. This conviction was unshakeable. According to him, a subservient press was of no service either to the country or the government. The flatterer, in his opinion, kept the leadership unaware of the mind of the people and the real happenings in the country. By doing so, the flatterer created a false sense of security in the rulers who then, unwittingly, could start thinking that the masses were satisfied and happy with their policies.

The present management of the Nawa-i-Waqt and the group of kindred publications are the inheritors of the principles and standards that the late Hameed Nlzaml had prescribed and determined while laying the foundations of the paper. They are, with care and diligence, keeping the torch alight, which Hameed Nizami lit more than halt a century ago.

Hameed Nizami believed in Pakistan as a modern Muslim State, a Republic, democratic in polity, following the teachings of lqbal and the guidelines given by Quaid-i-Azam. He was totally opposed to obscurantist ideas. One of the cardinal points of the policy that he set for the Nawa-i-Waqt was to completely reject those, who had opposed the concept and creation of Pakistan, whether they be so-called old politicians or the newer ones of varying hues or the self-appointed custodians of the faith of contrasting creeds and their followers. In this opinion, nothing good could be expected from people who opposed the Quaid and the creation of Pakistan. He never agreed with their ideas, and neither did he reconcile with anybody putting the rank and file of the common people in straight jackets and directing their politics.