A Giant among Pygmies

A man of many talents, Imran Aslam served a genuine example of what it means to be a dedicated journalist with absolute ethical boundaries and unquestioned moral rectitude.

By Syed Sarmad Ali | January 2023

What can one say or write about Imran Aslam as no words can truly describe a great person like him. And his death leaves his admirers and friends lost for words. He was, in fact, a giant living amongst pygmies. Imran was a colleague and a great friend of mine. I still remember the day when I met him formally at the Jang Group office for the first time. I had just been interviewed by Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman who had asked me to join The News. Imran Aslam was the first person I was introduced to by Shakil-ur-Rahman as we came out of his office into his waiting area where Imran was seated. At the time, Imran was the Editor of The News. After the formal handshake and brief introduction, he took me to his office for coffee and thus began a long and cherished relationship. Although I had met Imran socially a couple of times and knew of him, this was my first proper interaction with him.

This friendship, which lasted almost 30 years, was indeed time tested and survived many ups and downs. We worked together in the early years of The News, in our own ways, to bring a revolution in the world of English newspapers. The News was a different sort of a newspaper and Imran had played a very important part in making it so. We had our fights, as the fights between editorial and business sides of a newspaper often were. That was the time when we had giants like Kaleem Omer, M Ziauddin, M A Niazi, Salim Bokhari, Imtiaz Sipra, Fareshteh Gatti, Gul Hameed Bhatti, Waheed Khan, Qaiser Mehmood, Quatrina Hussain, Talath Naqvi, Owais Tauheed, Najma Sadiq, Azhar Abbas, Shahzad Amjad, Beena Sarwar, Farooq Mazhar, Kamila Hyat and many more stars of the world of journalism working at The News. I still remember the launch of what then was called ‘The News on Friday’ (and what later became ‘The News on Sunday’). All of us worked nearly 18 hours a day to bring the country’s first weekend paper out. New products like Political Economy, Encore and Instep were conceived as WE was laid to rest. Daring initiatives were taken under Imran to breathe new life into sports journalism. Imran was open to accept and experiment with new marketing and advertising ideas initially on the sports pages and then on outer and national pages. Those ideas were considered daring to say the least. But Imran was always open to new ideas.

Imran moved to Geo in or around 1997. He was amongst the founding members of Geo and worked relentlessly to make it what it is today. Many of the successful initiatives at Geo were his ideas. We worked together at Geo in its formative years and later from 2019 onwards. In between these years we were never out of touch. I could always count on his support, whenever I needed it. He was one of a kind. They don’t make them like that anymore. Rest in peace Imran Aslam. You will surely be missed.