M. Ziauddin: What a gentle soul

Imtiaz Alam
It was the most devastating news about his demise on a ventilator in Islamabad. Mohammed Ziauddin, former editor of The News, The Express Tribune, and Resident Editor of Dawn Islamabad, a prolific columnist, and a great human being left us yesterday at the age of 83.
He was a man of progressive ideals and held professional ethics, high professional standards, and human values above anything else. He catered solely to the people’s right to know and only served public interest regardless of any restrictions or temptations. He has always held high the banner of freedom of expression and press freedom against all odds that he confronted almost uninterruptedly without any hesitation. Ziauddin never deviated from the progressive-democratic ideals and was always on the right side of history for six decades of his career.
He stood against all military dictatorships and upheld people’s democratic rights without any vacillation.
As an economic reporter and investigative journalist, Zia made a tremendous contribution to the welfare of people. He viewed political economy from the perspective of working people and marginalized regions. A great critic of neo-liberal economics, he pursued people’s course of development and rejected IMF’s structural adjustment fallacies. On civil-military relations, he always sided with the supremacy of parliament and the supremacy of the constitution.
He supported every human and working-class rights movement while risking his position as a well-placed editor. Ziauddin remained very active in the working journalists’ movements and trade union activities. He was the guiding light of the struggle for press freedom and working journalists’ struggle for their economic rights from the platform of PFUJ. Being an editor of most English language newspapers, Zia was not an arrogant taskmaster, but an accommodating editor and was always responsive to the standpoints of his subordinates. Everybody liked to work with him since it was quite professionally fulfilling to work with him.
He was quite enamored by civil society activists whom he supported in their sincere efforts to uplift the drown trodden. He worked with the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) as one of its founders for peace and reconciliation in South Asia. Ziauddin advocated a South Asian Economic Union for the benefit of its people. He was a tolerant human being who respected diversity. Being a secular thinker, he advocated the separation of religion from state and theology from education.
Above all, he was a most civilized and conscientious human being. As a very passionate and sincere friend, Ziauddin was always there to soothe the friends in distress. He was very intimate and friendly. Zia
was admired by friends and was very tolerant of his ideological adversaries. In his death, I have lost a friend in need and deeds who always stood by his comrades in struggle. Ziauddin was lucky to have a very passionate wife and a devoted son, Dr. Athar Zia, who looked after him well. With his demise, Pakistan has lost a great patriot and a progressive democrat who remained loyal to the aspirations of the peoples of Pakistan. You would live in our memories Zia Bhai forever. God bless you.