By MUHAMMAD KAMRAN SADAQA MUGHAL

Who would have thought that Ham eed Nizami, who was born on the 3rd of January 1915 of a middle class family of Sangla Hill, District Sheikhupura, would rise to edit one of the leading newspapers of the country: As his father, being a religious man used to visit the Shrine of Hazrat Nizam-ud-Din AuIiya so all his brothers and sisters came to be known as “Nizami”. He had three brothers and two sisters.

Hameed Nizami got his early education from Government High School at Sangla Hill. His father died when he was in his 10th grade. As Hameed Nizami was the eldest among his brothers and sisters, the responsibility of looking after the family fell upon his shoulders. He and his mother both worked hard to sustain the family. He was a very intelligent and hard working student. He also used to take part in extra curricular activities. He passed his matriculation examination in the first division and stood first in school. His name was written in the Roll of Honour. He came to Lahore in 1934 at the age of 19. He got admission in lslamia College, Lahore. He worked part-time to meet his daily expenses. He started writing for the Crescent Magazine. He was also a good debater and took part in many Inter Collegiate debates. It is during this period that he started taking interest in journalism. In 1938 he joined F.C. College, Lahore and did his Masters from there. He became the editor of the monthly digest ‘Saarban’.

Hameed Nizami played a very important role in the Indian politics during 1937-47. He was founder as well as the first president of Punjab Muslim Students Federation. He visited several cities including Amritsar, Gujranwala, Lodhiana, Jullundhur and Sialkot where the meetings of Muslim students of the local colleges were organised and primary branches of the Punjab Muslim Students Federation were established. The first meeting of the Federation was held on September 1, 1937 in the staff room of lslamia College, Lahore. It was the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the Muslim students’ movement in Punjab. Hameed Nizami later resigned from the Presidentship of the Federation for personal reasons, but in 1943-44, he again became the Federation president for one year.

He was opposed to the Communist philosophy. He used to say that the socialist leaders had dubbed the federation as a communist body because its name was not Students Federation but Muslim Students Federation. His riposte was that the Muslim students were not more reactionary than those Congressite Hindus whose sole ambition was to make way for the Hindu Raj under the British.

The decade of 1940 was important for the Muslim Press. The resolution of 23rd March 1940, which was passed by the Muslims of Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent, was highly criticised by the Hindu Press. Though there were organs of Muslim Press in the form of Zamindar of Maulana Zafar Ali Khan yet Hameed Nizami on the 23rd of March 1940 started publishing a fortnightly newspaper under the banner of ‘Nawa-i-Waqt’. At that time his colleagues were Abdul Sattar Niazi, Dr Jamal Bhutta, Dr Shabbar Hassan and CR Aslam.

Hameed Nizami’s columns appeared regularly on the front page under the title of Sukhanhai Guftani and he used to write under the pen name Gharib-i-Shehr. This used to be a commentary on current affairs. There was also an interesting column Jati Kya Sochti hal? In it, he used to discuss with sarcasm the speeches of Hindu leaders, which showed their feelings against the Muslims. Among the topics dealt by him were; Sapru Committee, Gandhi-Jinnah meeting, Simla Conference, Wavell plan, Cabinet Mission, elections, Partition plan etc.

He also started his famous column Sar-i-Rahay in the ‘Nawa-i-Waqt’, which is still a very popular column. In shot, ‘Nawa-i-Waqt’ published well-reasoned articles on almost every topic.

Hameed Nizami’s aim was not to make money but to make his paper the voice of the Muslims for their rights. ‘Nawa-i-Waqt’ gave a tough competition to ‘Zamindar’ and ‘Ehsan’ and other Hindu newspapers. And to do that Hameed Nizami had to work day and night for the improvement of ‘Nawa-i-Waqt’.

On the 15th of November 1942 ‘Nawa-i-Waqt’ began its publication as a weekly. Though at that time Eastern Times was the only English newspaper which supported the Muslim cause, there were very few Urdu newspapers which promoted that cause.

Quiaid-i-Azam asked Hameed Nizami, in a letter, that he should publish Nawa-i-Waqt as a daily newspaper. He wrote: “I want that there should be a daily newspaper from Lahore which hundred percent should present the Muslim League and Pakistan Movement and I want you to do this job.”

So Hameed Nizami started publishing ‘Nawa-i-Waqt’ as a daily newspaper from the 22nd of July 1944. In the history of India and Pakistan, ‘Nawa-i-Waqt’ is the only paper to which Quaid-i-Azam sent thrice written messages of success with appreciation.

Dr Mehdi Hassan in an article “The origin of Press” published in ‘Dawn’ newspaper on Rind December 1998, said “Another important addition to Urdu Journalism in Lahore was the conversion of weekly ‘Nawa-i-Waqt’ into a daily in 1944, with Hameed Nizami and Hamid Mahmood as the co-founders. The paper was technically a good example of journalism and was highly outspoken in support of the Pakistan Movement. ‘Nawa-i-Waqt’ became popular because of its short and to the point editorials of Hameed Nizami’.

‘Nawa-i-Waqt’ also played a vital role in making the Muslim League achieve success in the elections of 1946. After the elections when the government enforced the Public Safety Act, Muslim League opposed the Act by starting’ a Civil Disobedience. Movement. ‘Nawa-i-Waqt’ became the voice of the Muslim League. After 1947, ‘Nawa-i-Waqt’ continued to support the Pakistan government. After the death of Quaid-i-Azam end Liaquat Ali Khan our country lacked capable leadership. So ‘Nawa-i-Waqt’ became critical of the governments that followed. That’s why it was banned by the Daultana government of Punjab. In June 1952, it resumed publication. The moving spirit behind it was Hameed Nizami.

Hameed Nizami was a true patriot. He could never tolerate any thing said against Pakistan, its government and its people.

He was very kind to his friends. He used to go to Lord’s Hotel in the evening to meet his friends. He was very careful about choosing his friends. Among his friends were Nawab Mamdot, Mian Abdul Bari, Mian Ameer-ud-Din, Former Chief Justice Anwar-ul-Haq, Col. Amjad Hussain Syed, Mr N.M. Khan, Mr A.D. Azhar and many others.

During his last days, he suddenly suffered a heart attack one night and remained in the deathbed for three days and three nights but could not recover. He died on the 25th of February 1962. With his death, Pakistan lost a sincere worker of the Pakistan Movement, but his work will never die. He will always live in the hearts of the people in the form of ‘Nawa-i-Waqt’.

Daily Nawa-i-Waqt is still functioning with full vigour, which it had demonstrated years ago and now his brother Majid Nizami is carrying on the noble cause.