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‘Behave as a scholar, not as a wrestler’

Dr. Miskeen Ali Hijazi served in the Punjab University’s Department of Journalism/Mass Communication (now School of Communication Studies) for more than 37 years. He remained head of the department for the most extended period, around 20 years. He authored books like Fun-e-Idarat (art of sub-editing), Fun-e-Idaria Naveesi (art of editorial writing), Sahafti Zubaan (journalistic language), Journalism in Punjab, Allah Kay Sipahi (soldiers of God), and Dollar Kay Des Main (in the country of dollar). He was a self-made person whose father was martyred during the partition riots in 1947. His family settled in a small village near Peer Mahal in district Toba Tek Singh. He was an outstanding Kabaddi player and a brilliant student during his school days. He topped the Lahore Board in his middle exams and got a scholarship.

After passing the matriculation exam with distinction, Dr. Miskeen Hijazi decided to go to Lyallpur (now Faisalabad) for college education. These were the most challenging days of his life. He did different odd jobs for his survival, trying to sell things in the streets. He worked as a loader and experienced serving in a restaurant. He was appointed a gatekeeper in a cinema house. He showed perseverance and ultimately successfully passed his bachelor’s exam and moved to Lahore for further education. Here, he found a proofreader’s job in the weekly Chataan of Shorish Kashmiri. He got free accommodation in a tiny storeroom of the Chataan Building at McLeod Road. He started writing articles in the national press under the name of Miskeen Ali. He got a degree in MA Urdu and successfully obtained a sub-editor’s job in the Daily Kohistan. After joining this newspaper, he started writing under the name of Miskeen Hijazi. In 1959, he got admission to the first batch of MA Journalism at the Punjab University. After completing his MA in Journalism, he continued his job in Daily Kohistan and was appointed lecturer in the Journalism Department of the Punjab University. With this, he continued his job as sub-editor in Daily Kohistan also.

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At Punjab University, I stayed with him for around 33 years in the positions of a student, colleague, and subordinate. He was most popular among the students because of his devotion and sincerity as a teacher. Other teachers discussed different things in the classroom, but he was always confined to the syllabi and worked hard to check students’ writing assignments. I often found an opportunity to sit in his office and have a cup of tea. Besides academic things, he rarely talked about everyday matters. Nevertheless, whenever he spoke two to three sentences, he uttered words of practical wisdom. He thought that one could overcome their deficiency of intelligence with some more hard work, but where you need to work hard, there is no alternative to it. On one occasion, he said to me: “You are ahead of your batch fellows because you have got ample practical journalism experience during your college days. Now, suppose you get some more practical knowledge of the national press during your university education. In that case, it will not affect your academic achievements but will help to keep you ahead of your class fellows.” After some weeks of this advice, I got a sub-editor’s job in the Daily Nida-e-Millat of Majeed Nizami. I was in my final year of MA Journalism. Dr. Miskeen Hijazi appreciated it when my title feature articles appeared in the Nida-e-Millat. He said, “That was a significant achievement, but such successes always come with so many jealousies, biases, and leg-pulling. Now, you need to do double work on the one side for the quality of your work and the other side to avoid the adverse effects of others’ jealousy.”

On his recommendation, I joined him as a lecturer in the Journalism Department at Punjab University in 1971. On one occasion, he noticed me saying to one of the students that if he showed that nasty attitude again in the class, I would go through him from the third floor down to the ground. On this, Hijazi Sahib offered me a cup of tea in his room and said that it was pretty strange to hear such words from me. “See gentleman, you have been appointed to the university as a scholar, not as a wrestler; you must behave with your students as a scholar as long as you are here,” he said to me.

After some months of the university service experience, one day, I said to him, “Sir, there is so much politics in this university.” He said, “In all the services, it was the same. There is psychological warfare going on at the campus. People will try to unnerve you in so many ways, but your success is not to allow them to bother you.” On other occasions, he used to explain that hard work gave one dignity and patience saved one from many troubles. “Controlling your unlimited desires brings pleasure to you. Forgiveness is a symbol of your vigor and strength,” he used to say.

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In June 1985, Dr. Joseph Ascroft conducted a Development Support Communication workshop in our department in which communication teachers from all over Pakistan participated. In the same year, the nomenclature of the department was changed to the Department of Mass Communication. After submitting my PhD thesis at the university, I left for the United States to avail the two-year fellowship of the Asia Foundation and returned in 1987 with an MS degree in Development Support Communication.

Our teacher Waris Mir died at the age of 50 in July 1987. Department of Mass Communication shifted to its present premises in 1990, where we got ample space for establishing our radio and TV studios and starting new academic programs. Dr. Abdul Salam Khurshid retired in the mid-1970s. After this, we started the PhD program in our own department. There was no PhD teacher in our department at that time. Therefore, Dr. Miskeen Hijazi opted for Dr. Waheed Qureshi of the Urdu Department as his PhD supervisor. Dr. Muneer-ud-Din Chughtai, chairman of Political Science Department who became pro-vice chancellor and then vice-chancellor, was my PhD supervisor.

Dr. Miskeen Hijazi was the first PhD in Journalism from the Punjab University, and I was the second. Dr. Miskeen Hijazi retired from the university in June 1997 but continued teaching as part-time teacher for some more years. He died in January 2009 after a protracted illness. His demise saddened the vast circles of communication students, scholars, and working journalists. He was an example of hard work, punctuality, and a humble and cheerful temperament who never put today’s work on tomorrow. He was an excellent speaker in Lahore’s social circles. His services in journalism will be remembered for a very long time.

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