Dirge of the fourth pillari in Pakistan
The firm feet on which we see the fourth state standing today owe their strength to the long, brave, untiring and selfless struggle of journalists like Minhaj Barna who through the mostly difficult years of
At a well attended function on Friday evening organised by South Asia Free Media Association at its media centre to launch his collection of verse, Mersia Chothay Satoon Ka, poets, intellectuals and fellow journalists called his leadership of the journalists movement an inspiring example of sincerity, commitment, fearlessness and peaceful defiance of tyranny and oppression.
Introducing Minhaj Barna, Ashfaque Salim Mirza gave a brief account of his life and career: his birth in 1925 in Qaimganj, Farrukhabad, going to Bombay where he started as a teacher, then joining an Urdu newspaper as a translator, moving to where he worked at the Jamia Millia, got his graduation from there and joined the Communist Party.
He moved to in 1949 and then to working at Imroze and later as a correspondent for the Pakistan Times. He had several stints abroad as correspondent and even as a press counsellor in when was the Prime Minister. At 83 now he possessed the years of a rich life lived according to his ideals.
His long time companion in the Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), recounted those early days of the journalists movement when Minhaj Barna was elected general-secretary of the union in .
It was a very unique period of time when only very committed people would join the profession. Since Barna had been associated with the Communist Party his efforts were to wean the journalists struggle towards the larger frame of the labour movement. This progressive leaning kept the PFUJ in constant conflict with the establishment, in particular when he was its general secretary and later became its president. It was around that period when Barna went on the longest hunger strike that any leader of any party or group had ever observed. It caused his health grievous and irreparable harm.
Afzal Khan spoke of his tenacity when the going would become tough.
Kishwar Naheed described the years of military dictatorship and the hardships journalists underwent in their struggle for the freedom of the press.
She made a brief comment on Barna’s poetry as a chronicle of the various phases of peoples struggle for their democratic rights. In this small book, he has said it all, as boldly in words as in actions throughout his life as a journalist and a progressive fighter of human rights. She said it was hard for ordinary people to be honest and truthful like Barna. She said she considered herself to be a very incomplete follower of this rare fighter.
Dwelling on his poetry, Fateh Muhammad Malik compared his work to Mirza Rafi Sauda’s Shehre Ashobe. He said it was a poetry of resistance and revolution that in verse captured all that the late Zamir Niazi had said in his books. He recited some verses from the book about censorship.
Ahmad Fraz who was presiding the function said Barna’s verse was something between art and journalism but the man was an inspiration as in those days one gathered one’s revolutionary awareness from the press. He said that Barna had become the movement itself.
Social activist Marvi Sarmad read two of the poems of Barna.
At the end Minhaj Barna read from his mussadas which is its main feature. In his brief remarks he paid tribute to the struggle of the legal community and applauded the politicians for their show of unity against dictatorship.
He called upon the people to remain united and support the lawyers and the politicians who were struggling for the democratic rights of the people. His words proved this meeting was not a farewell to arms.
Prof Khawaja Masud presented a bouquet to Minhaj Barna.
Tags: Freedom Of Press , Media
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