Story of a hardworking journalist

Lately, several journalists have suffered due to massive lay-offs and pay-cuts. Fasih was one of the victims

A Rs 2,700 bank deposit, a rented house and a leased car were the total assets of a journalist who spent 24 years of his life in Pakistan’s top news organisations. It is extremely painful to write these lines for a journalist friend who died unexpectedly leaving behind four children (two sons and two daughters) and a widow.

Fasihur Rehman, 47, was a brave and tenacious journalist who lived his life with dignity and refused to submit to the pressures every journalist has been facing during all these turbulent years. He was one of the pioneers of electronic media in Pakistan.

According to his family members, he had spent his childhood in the UAE where his father used to work in a construction company. After he completed his education, his family moved to Lahore where he chose the journalism profession.

Fasihur Rehman joined The Nation in 1996 as a reporter and was assigned the education beat. Later he moved to The News where he covered education and major political parties. He had cultivated very good relations with the powerful politicians, especially Chaudhrys and Sharifs. Fasih had all the qualities required for political journalism and he never sought personal favours.

In 2002, he was part of the founding team of Geo TV where journalists from across the country were imparted training by American broadcast journalists in Karachi. Over 200 senior journalists and some promising fresh graduates had been selected for training ahead of the launch of Pakistan’s first ever news channel in private sector. It was history in the making.

The evening gatherings at the Beach Luxury Hotel were rampant with pleasantries and political jokes. Being a keen observer and pleasantly sarcastic Fasih would always be at the best of his lively sense of humour. He was not a morning man. Discussing politics at late-night sittings was his favourite waste of time.

After the training was over he decided to move to Islamabad at the very start of Geo transmission. He thought the Capital was the best place to sharpen his skills for political journalism. Even as Fasih was away from Lahore, he would always be in touch with friends back home. He had a wide range of friends from journalists to politicians and businessmen. He would never hesitate to call a spade a spade, and he had to bear the consequences for his straightforwardness on certain occasions.

In 2007, he joined Express News and became a founding member of another mainstream broadcast media outlet in Pakistan. Once again there was a training and Fasih came back to Lahore for a brief period to spend good time with his old colleagues. His love for Lahore had never faded. Every other week he was found in his hometown to meet friends and family members.

Knowing his financial situation one of his former colleagues in Islamabad helped him find some international outlet to write for. A meeting was set. He was to meet his old colleague in the evening, the day he breathed his last.

Fasih never really settled down after quitting Geo News. He later joined Dunya TV as bureau chief and then moved back to Lahore to work for the same channel. But, he could not survive there for too long and went back to Islamabad to find a job at some other outlet. He also started writing for Gulf News and The News. Then he joined Indus News which was to be his last venture. It only lasted for about three months and he became unemployed again.

The economic slowdown has impacted the media industry badly. Several journalists and media workers have suffered due to massive lay-offs and pay-cuts. Some of the media men have died from heart attacks. Fasih became one of the victims. He had been trying to find a job for the last several months, but to no avail. His health had started to deteriorate. First he had developed diabetes and then an eye problem. During the testing times he sold his family houses in Sabzazar and Ramgarh (Mughalpura) areas of Lahore besides disposing of his plot in Journalists’ Housing Society.

He remained unshaken and never uttered a word of complaint about the worst times he was going through whenever he met his friends. Knowing his financial situation one of his former colleagues in Islamabad helped him find some international outlet to write for. A meeting was set. He was to meet his old colleague in the evening, the day he breathed his last.

Here is what Aamir Ghauri wrote on Twitter: ‘A very good friend, a hardworking journalist, a conscientious professional, a trustworthy colleague & a brother-like soul, Fasihur Rehman Khan has moved on after an earlier than expected appointment call from our real Boss. We were supposed to meet at 3.30pm yesterday. May he RIEP.’

The journalists’ community was stunned by the news of sudden death of Fasih ur Rehman. Rich tributes started to pour in. Awais Toheed tweeted, ‘I am devastated by the shocking news of the death of a dear friend& journalist Fasih ur Rehman due to cardiac arrest…’

Matiullah Jan remarked, ‘Senior journalist Fasih Ur Rehman is no more. Inna Lilla e wa Inna Illahe Rajioon! Allah maghfarat farmae. Ameen! a brilliant analyst, experienced reporter, had an excellent insight into parliamentary activities, will surely miss him a lot. We were together in AQS Live lately.’

The writer is a broadcast journalist and has worked with several news channels in Pakistan. He is currently associated with Samaa TV

Fasihur Rehman: Story of a hardworking journalist