One hell of a man.

Tall. Handsome. Royal. Fearless. Full of wit. Master creator of headlines. Thoroughly professional subeditor. This was Masudullah Khan, who left us sad this month. I had the pleasure of staying with him for about a week in July 2021 at his house in Allama Iqbal Town, Lahore. His wife was a great host. I was also introduced to his creative daughter and her nice husband. An octogenarian now, but he was still as lively as ever. He remembered the past as if it happened yesterday. He had worked in all major newspapers and the news agency, Pakistan Press International. Masudullah stood for rights whenever they were violated. He had to leave Pakistan Times when the dictator Zia ul Haq started targeting the progressive journalists. He was one of the four journalists who were jailed and sentenced to lashes by a military court. His was a rare example of a citizen challenging the illegality of the summary military court right in front of it. This was by far the worst period for the freedom of press in Pakistan. Disappointed with the deteriorating state of freedom of speech and other fundamental rights, he left the country to work at Kuwait Times. On return, he joined Hussain Naqi's team that founded The News in Lahore. His last job as journalist was as the news editor of Dawn when it began publishing its Lahore edition.

Masudullah Khan had done his Master's in English literature. This training showed in his conversations which were full of literary humour. It was also reflected in his reporting. Here is a gem describing Zulfikar Ali Bhtto's arrival in Lahore in June 1966 after he fell out with dictator Ayub Khan: 'When I reached the station, the platforms were almost empty. Then suddenly people started arriving. There were so many people that the station looked like a beehive. You could not see anything other than people.' Great...

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