It was with utmost sadness and infinite sense of personal loss that I have learnt of the passing away of senior Journalist, editor, author and person of immense qualities, Sharif Farooq, in Peshawar, his adopted home after leaving Lahore about half a century ago.
With his departure, Pakistan has perhaps lost the last of those early pioneers who began journalism in the early and formative years of Pakistan. As you know, Lahore was one of the great hubs of journalism in the sub-continent, with a galaxy of newspapers both in English and Urdu. In English, the British owned Civil and Military Gazette (C&MG), Daily Tribune (owned by a Hindu Trust) and several newspapers like Veer Bharat, Partap, Malap, Jai Hind etc were all owned and patronized by Non-Muslims.
The only Muslim Publications were Daily Zamindar, daily Inqilb and later Daily Ehsan, owned by Malik Noor Elahi. Both Nawai Waqt and The Pakistan Times, started publication in 1947, around the emergence of Pakistan, on a directive and wishes of Quaid-e-Azam. So did News Agencies like APP, UPP with Orient Press continuing for a brief period even after independence which produced some eminent journalists.
Among the emerging journalists in Pakistan, were such icons like Hameed Nizami, Faiz ahmad Faiz, Abdul Majeed Salik, Chirag Hasan Hasrat, Mir. Khalil-ur-Rehman, Mazhar Ali Khan, Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, Ahmad Basheer, ABS Jafari, Zaheer Baber, Abdullah Malik, Hameed Akhtar Khan, Kh.M.Asif Syed Amjad Hussain, Zahoor Alam Shaheed, Zahid Chaudhary, Mian Shafi (Meem Sheen), Malik Muzaffar Ehsani, Syed Nur Ahmed, and many others including Sardar Fazli and Shareef Farooq, who had started out with Daily Ehsan and later came over to Nawai Waqat. While he later shifted to Peshawar with Daily Shehbaz and later starting his own paper “ltehad”, he retained a life time relationship with Nawi Waqt. He also became a versatile author, writer and supporter of many worthwhile national censes.
Having personally known, Shareef Farooq, from his early Lahore days to remain in touch with him all these years in Peshawar, was something for which due credit must go to this remarkable friend of mine. He remained in touch with me in Lahore, Karachi and back in Lahore, for well over half a century. He was surely the last of those remarkable people who came forth into journalism in those early years and remained steadfast even through some hard times of several Martial Law periods and notably during the most horried “Zia years”. God bless you, my friend and my deep condolences to his family for this most worthy loss.