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Remembering I.A. Rehman: A Legacy of Courage and Advocacy

April 12, 2023, marks the second death anniversary of iconic journalist Ibn Abdur Rehman. One feels it is difficult to do adequate justice to a recollection of his class and contributions by employing an array of cliched superlatives or a ceremonial stock of words. Ibn Abdur  Rehman was much more than that –  he was the champion of many humanitarian causes, the voice of the voiceless, and the chronicler of societal injustices. He has truly been regarded as an ambassador of peace.

As a person, Ibn Abdur Rehman stood for principles and values that made him an inspiration for many. He was a journalist of unparalleled calibre, with a command over the English language that set him apart from his contemporaries. He wrote incessantly for over six decades on many themes, advocating respect for institutions, the supremacy of the rule of law, and democratic ideals.

Rehman Sahib’s innings had their ups and downs in the form of incarcerations and personal tragedies, but he did not waver or lose concentration. He adhered to professional canons such as objectivity and a sense of proportion and called out politicians and self-seeking adventurers without naming or scoffing at anyone. He was always concerned about issues rather than personalities and did not shy away from pointing out the wrongs of even the late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his party, despite being its ‘supporter’ for many years.

The Body of Work 

As a writer, Ibn Abdur Rehman covered various issues, from the rights of minorities and the downtrodden to the dignity of labour, misdemeanours of the powers that be, and a host of social ills. His writings showcased a deep commitment and consistency, like an accomplished batsman who plays a memorable inning. The recurrent themes and subjects he wrote about profoundly impacted Pakistan’s society and policy-making.

His advocacy for peace, democracy, and justice made him an international icon. Rehman Sahib received numerous accolades, including the prestigious Nishan-e-Imtiaz, the highest civilian award in Pakistan, for his lifelong commitment to human rights. He was also a member of various international organisations and was instrumental in raising awareness about minorities and the marginalised in Pakistan.

Legacy and Importance

Ibn Abdur Rehman’s passing left a void that is hard to fill. His contributions to journalism, human rights, and the social fabric of Pakistan are immeasurable. The outpouring of grief from many parts of the world at his death testified to the respect he enjoyed for bringing light to countless lives.

Today, the light may have gone out, but its radiance will continue to inspire a legion of his admirers. His writings, along with the fond memories of colleagues, comrades, men of letters, and the promoters of noble causes he recorded in his columns, are works of high literary merit and are worthy of being preserved for researchers, students, and all those who put a premium on the values he stood for.

Ibn Abdur Rehman’s legacy inspires all those who aspire to make a difference in the world. His unwavering commitment to justice and human rights is a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there is always hope. We can honour his memory by continuing to fight for the values he championed and striving to create a better world for all.

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