People from various walks of life expressed grief over the death of renowned scholar, media historian and human rights defender Dr Mehdi Hasan. In their condolence messages they showered tribute on him and acknowledged his scholaistic work and services.
Professor Hassan passed away in Lahore after a protracted illness at his house in Lahore on Wednesday.
He was 85 and is survived by wife, Rakhshanda Hasan, and two sons.
He was laid to rest at Sukh Chayn Housing Society, Multan Road, according to Punjab University, where he had served as a professor of mass communication.
A large number of people, including politicians, government officials, teachers, his students, and friends attended the funeral to pay him their last homage.
He was awarded Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 2012 for his services in journalism.
Dr Hasan authored a number of books on history, journalism, mass communication, and politics. ‘The Political History of Pakistan’, one of his books, is widely used as a source of reference.
The late academic was among the few media historians of Pakistan.
He used to make regular appearances as a commentator on national and international media outlets and also contributed to all major newspapers of Pakistan.
His teaching career spanned 50 years, during which he served as the dean of journalism and mass communication at Beaconhouse National University.
Renowned historian Dr Mubarak Ali expressed deep sorrow over his death saying ‘Dr Mehdi Hasan throughout his life fought for human rights. We are deprived of a friend and good human being.’
Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar expressed his condolences on the demise of the noted academician.
In his condolence message, he extended sympathies to the bereaved family and paid tribute to the educational and journalistic contributions of Dr Hasan.
The revered rights defender served as chairperson of The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).
HRCP Chairperson Hina Jilani condoled his death and said Dr Hasan was a ‘public intellectual and one of Pakistan’s foremost media historians.
She said as a teacher of journalism at the University of Punjab and subsequently at Beaconhouse National University, he nurtured several generations of reporters and columnists, always emphasising the integrity of facts and evidence.
Describing him as a ‘proudly secular man’ she added that ‘Underlying his soft-spoken demeanor was a political astuteness that few can lay claim to. It was to Dr Hasan that many leading politicians—his former students—turned for advice. It was advice he gave invariably without fear or favor’.
He long warned that Pakistan could not hope to become a true democracy so long as it pandered to religious nationalism, Jilani recalled, adding that Dr Hasan’s ‘unwavering commitment to freedom of religion, expression, and opinion gave direction to human rights defenders and progressive journalists across Pakistan, scores of whom would congregate at his home in Lahore out of a shared love of poetry and political anecdotes.
Dr Hasan received a Ph.D. in mass communication from Punjab University after acquiring a master’s degree in the same discipline from the varsity.
He also studied at the University of Colorado in the US on a Fullbright scholarship. During the course of his studies there, he undertook research on the ‘Coverage of Third World Countries in the American Mass Media’.
Besides heading the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists between 1961 to 1967, he served at the Pakistan Press International as a journalist in the same period.
Punjab University Vice Chancellor (VC) Prof Niaz Ahmad Akhtar also expressed grief over Dr Hasan’s demise.
In his condolence message, the VC said Dr Hasan was ‘a powerful voice of human rights in Pakistan’.
In a statement PFUJ also condoled the demise of the celebrated academician.
PFUJ President Shehzada Zulfiqar and Secretary General Nasir Zaidi said Dr Mehdi was a beacon of light for his students and followers alike. His wise opinion for establishing democratic norms, respecting human rights and following ethical journalism will be missed in a country that is still in dire need of such personalities.
They said that Dr Mehdi Hassan always stood behind the democratic forces of the country and challenged the dictatorial regimes openly and never hesitated to challenge them.
His contributions for Pakistan will never be forgotten in days to come.
Additional input from Dawn.com.