Sultan Muhammad Sabir, Pioneer of Pashto Journalism

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Sultan Muhammad Sabir, Pioneer of Pashto Journalism, Rahimullah Yusufzai
Published in Khyber.ORG on Tuesday, July 1 2008 (

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Sultan Muhammad Sabir, Pioneer of Pashto Journalism

Rahimullah Yusufzai

Publishing Date: Tuesday, July 1 2008

Sultan Mohammad Sahir, one of the pioneers of Pashto journalism and a writer in his own right, died recently but sadly enough there hasn't been proper acknowledgement of the services that he rendered for his mother tongue in particular and for the world of literature in general.

Sabir lived for 83 years and most of this time was spent reading and writing. For 63 long years he was associated with journalism. It was an association that lasted until the end of his eventful life.

As chief editor of Pashto daily, Hewad, the late Sabir was one of the torch bearers of journalism in his mother tongue. He kept Pashto journalism alive when publishing a newspaper in the language wasn't a good business proposition. Few Pashtuns were inclined to read and buy Pashto newspapers. Besides, Pashtun politicians and businessmen patronized Urdu and English papers. All this would have disheartened any publisher and editor but Sabir was made of sterner stuff. He kept pushing himself to publish Hewad every day initially from his hometown Quetta and later also Peshawar.

When the BBC Pashto service started its broadcasts in the 1980s, Sabir was one of the fast Pakistani journalists invited to its programmes as commentator and analyst.

Born in Quetta in 1925. Sabir did his matriculation in 1940. Circumstances forced him to look for a job at a Young age. He got a job as storekeeper in an arms depot. However, Sabir's heart was in literature and he wanted to write in Pashto. An opportunity arose in 1947 when he took the competitive examination and landed the job of Pashto article writer in the government-run Balochistan publicity office. Now he could write and do translations.

One of his first assignments was to publish all speeches of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah in Pashto. He completed the task before 1947 was out. The speeches were available in Pashto in the year when Pakistan achieved independence from British colonial rule.

In recognition of his services, Quaid-i-Azam gave Sabir a sanad, or certificate, on February 2, 1948 when he addressed the Shahi Darbar in Quetta. This was an occasion that remained etched in Sabir's memory for rest of his life.

At a later stage in life, Sabir launched his own daily, Hewad. Apart from promoting Pashto journalism, he also authored books, including one about the origin of the Pashtun. This is an issue that hasn't been settled yet and Sabir had his own scholarly take on the Pashtun race and its origins.

Sabir had progressive and nationalist views. He talked in measured tones and was an attentive listener. As old age set in, Sabir slowed down. His sons Najibullah, Nasrullah and Faridullah started sharing his responsibilities. The clean-shaved Sabir grew a beard. He had earlier shifted to Islamabad, where he breathed his last. The body was taken to Quetta where it was buried in his ancestral graveyard on Pir Mohammad Road. That is certainly what Sabir would have wanted, being returned to the beloved city of his birth.


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Sultan Muhammad Sabir, Pioneer of Pashto Journalism, Rahimullah Yusufzai
Published in Khyber.ORG on Tuesday, July 1 2008 (