If my nation has sensible young men like Hameed Nizami, my nation’s future is very bright,” said Quaid-e-Azam while addressing the participants of the annual session of the All-India Muslim Students Federation in Jullañdhar. That was when the struggle for Pakistan was gathering momentum. The late Hameed Nizami commenced his professional life as 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. The future doyen of Urdu journalism of this land founded, literally from scratch, his fortnight publication 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 to have 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, before becoming the manager of the Orient News of India owned by the Muslims.

Hameed Nizami’s approach towards handling contemporary issues, whether political, social or economic, was invariably appreciated for being correct and lucid. He dared to take exception to outmoded concepts and succeeded in advancing correct and rational ideas. That was what developed further as his style of writing till his last days. When Ouaid-i-Azam visited Lahore I 1944 after expelling Malik Khizar Hayat Tiwana from the Muslim League he sent for Hameed Nizami and said to the budding journalist that he wished him to publish a daily newspaper from Lahore to 100 percent represent the views of the Muslim League and the Pakistan Movement and asked to 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. Both Hameed Nizami and his paper had to face the wrath of the government day. Financial squeeze was a favourite weapon to keep newspapers in line and for close to three years, till the Unionist Government of Khizar Hayat Tiwana fell no government advertisement was placed 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 same squeeze was applied after independence, too. Mian Mumtaz Daultana, just five days after becoming the Punjab Chief Minister tried to coerce the Nawa-i-Waqt to toe the official line. As Hameed Nizami refused to bow down, the government revoked the paper’s declaration Not only that, somebody else was surreptitiously encouraged to publish a propped-up Nawa-i-Waqt. That was open war. Hameed Nizami, to the charging of the government, shot his first volley in reply, by launching his Jihad. When the government tried to throttle Jihad, he responded by catapulting his ‘Nawa-i-Waqt’. At last in June 1952 the government gave up 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.

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. 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 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 of Punjab and neighbouring areas. The leading role Hameed Nizami and Nawa-i-Waqt played in the struggle for Pakistan cannot be underestimated. He rejected all ideas that were at cross-purposes to the concept of Pakistan. And those who advanced such mischievous ideas were countered by Hameed Nizami’s power of the pen. No critic of the need for Pakistan to become a reality was spared and the argument for establishing an independent homeland for Muslim was advanced with full force and vigour. Hameed Nizami never reconciled with the politics of opponent of the idea Pakistan. According to him, a subservient press was of no service either to the country or the government. The flatterer kept the leadership unaware of the mind of the people and the real happenings in the country, creating 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 Nawa-i-Waqt and the group of kindred publications are the inheritors of the principles and standards 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 half 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 he set for 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 his (Hameed Nizami’s) 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 straightjacket and directing their politics.

The writer is a freelance columnist. He is a close observer of Hameed Nizami’s life and struggle for Pakistan.