Published On: Tue, Feb 13th, 2018

The irreparable losses

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Last Sunday proved fatal for our country as on this day we lost two extremely important personalities, one the greatest human rights activist Asma Jahangir and the other the veteran actor Qazi Wajid. The shocks caused by their deaths are palpable. While Qazi Wajid was laid to rest the same day, Asma Jahangir’s funerals are set for today. Asma was a principled and courageous, Asma’s willingness and determination to confront evil, defend the vulnerable, and insist on Pakistan living up to the ideals of its democratic, constitutional and secular foundations made her truly iconic.

Born in Lahore in January 1952, Asma Jahangir was a towering personality. She received a bachelor’s degree from Kinnaird College and an LLB from Punjab University.

She was called to the Lahore High Court in 1980 and to the Supreme Court in 1982. She later went on to become the first woman to serve as president of the Supreme Court Bar Association.

She became a pro-democracy activist and was jailed in 1983 for participating in the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy, which agitated against military dictator Ziaul Haq’s regime.

She was also active in the 2007 Lawyers’ Movement, for which she was put under house arrest.

She co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, and the Women’s Action Forum.

She received several awards, including a Hilal-i-Imtiaz in 2010 and a Sitara-i-Imtiaz. She was also awarded a Unesco/Bilbao Prize for the Promotion of a Culture of Human Rights and an Officier de la Légion d’honneur by France.

She also received the 2014 Right Livelihood Award and the 2010 Freedom Award from the International Rescue Committee.

A woman who lived the majority of her adult life in the public eye, Asma eschewed self-promotion for a steadfast and remarkable focus on the issues that ought to be of concern to every right-thinking and sensible citizen.

Asma was a formidable lawyer and a person of remarkable intellect, but always spoke in a universal language of the rights of the vulnerable and accountability of the powerful.

Her eloquent yet forceful defence of victims and the vulnerable everywhere will be greatly missed.

While Asma Jahangir tirelessly travelled the country and the globe to promote humans rights and other admirable causes, it is her lifelong struggle against dictatorship and authoritarianism that is perhaps defining.

Her father, Malik Ghulam Jilani, bravely denounced military atrocities in what was then East Pakistan, and before long, Asma was fighting the dictatorship of Ziaul Haq in the streets.

Asma was also emphatic in her criticism of vicious state action against the party and vigorously defended the right of voters to elect their chosen representatives unimpeded.

Losing an iconic champion of human rights, a lion of democracy and the rule of law would be difficult for any society.

For Pakistan, the loss of Asma Jahangir has come at yet another brittle historical moment, with uncertainty plaguing the democratic project in the country.

Now coming up to the shocking demise of the veteran actor Qazi Wajid’s death. He was one of the busiest persons on PTV during its heyday, doing the highest number of plays from Karachi.

There are so many memories associated with Qazi bhai, but the one thing that one would always admire about him was his dedication to the profession.

Wajid was one of the pioneers of Pakistan’s radio industry. After remaining associated with the industry for 25 years, Wajid decided to switch careers and joined television in 1966.

The veteran actor was honoured with a Pride of Performance Award in 1988 by the Government of Pakistan.

He was part of a number of Pakistan Television (PTV) classics, including Dhoop Kinaray, Khuda Ki Basti and Tanhaiyan. The role of Raja that Wajid played in Khuda ki Basti became the reason for his fame on television.

Born in Lahore in the year 1930, Wajid completed his early education in Lahore and then shifted to the USA for a while. The veteran actor spent nearly 48 years in association with the media, as a radio artist and a TV, stage and film actor.

A friend took him to Radio Pakistan and Wajid’s first programme Naunihal, a weekly drama for children made him popular. Later Hamid Mian Kay Yahan, the longest radio serial spanning 30 years, came along, and then Qazi Ji Waghera Waghera, written by Shaukat Thanvi.

Wajid then stepped into films and theatre. In theatre, at that time, Khawaja Moinuddin’s Taleem-i-Balighan, Mirza Ghalib Bunder Road, Wadi-i-Kashmir, Lal Qila Say Lalukhet were classic plays in which he acted.

Bedari was his first film on children – a copy of the Indian film Jagirati – produced by Ratan Kumar’s father. Ratan Kumar made this film when he migrated to Pakistan. Its songs Chalo Chalain Maan and Youn Di Hamain Azadi were the talk of the town.

When TV was officially introduced in 1967, he was in Lahore doing Mirza Ghalib Bandar Road Pey. Returning to Karachi, Wajid did his first TV series Aaj Ka Shair in which a poem of a famous poet would be the base of the story. The next popular serial was Khuda Ki Basti in which he played the role of Raja. Hawwa Ki Baiti and Khuda Ki Basti gave him unforgettable characters. In Hawwa Ki Beti, he did the role of a tabla man selling his stepdaughter and in Sauda, which Seema Tahir directed, he played the character of a Bandar Ka Tamasha man.  Wajid’s association with radio has been a special one, as he feels strongly that radio is a place where one acquires acting talent.


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