Karachi: Veteran journalist and former Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Chairperson, I.A. Rehman delivered the first Razia Bhatti Memorial Lecture titled Speaking Truth to Power: Why Razia Mattered at the Center for Excellence in Journalism (CEJ-IBA), Institute of Business Administration, Karachi.
Starting off the lecture, he mentioned, “Razia Bhatti tried to keep the flag of independent and fearless journalism flying at a time of oppression”. He further added that Ms. Bhatti had no tolerance for injustice or exploitation of the underprivileged, and was a feminist to the core. He added that she was a born journalist who was fully committed to her pen.
“Ms. Bhatti had only one regret,” said Mr. Rehman, “After resigning from Herald magazine in the late 1980s, she was not able to bring out Newsline during Zia-ul- Haq’s era.”
While speaking about freedom of speech, Mr. Rehman said that citizens in the olden days enjoyed the right to publish and news was not curtailed even at the time of war. “Freedom of expression has been there for several years but new laws are curtailing it,” he said adding, “before there was fear of enemies but now we fear our friends.”
The former HRCP chairperson acknowledged CEJ-IBA for its work. “Journalism is at its last catch and CEJ is working tremendously to work for journalism,” he lauded the center’s efforts.
One of the founding members of Newsline, Ms. Umber Khairi recorded a video message which was played during the event in which she talked about the challenges plaguing journalism in Pakistan. She described Ms. Bhatti’s valiant efforts to publish the truth.
Editor of Herald and member of the CEJ advisory board, Mr. Badar Alam also talked about the challenges journalists face today.
The Razia Bhatti Memorial Lecture series was set up last year by CEJ-IBA in collaboration with the Razia Bhatti Memorial Initiative to honour the pioneering editor. Bhatti, a former editor of the Herald, founded the journalist-owned publication Newsline with her editorial team in 1989, and was the winner of a number of national and international awards recognizing her professionalism and commitment. She died in March 1996.