Shaikh Aziz became a ‘Brand Name’ in Sindhi, Urdu as well as English journalism, because he introduced a new style in journalism.
By Yasir Qazi
Eminent journalist and writer, Shaikh Aziz, opened his eyes on December 9, 1938, in Hyderabad Sindh, the second largest city and the cultural capital of Sindh. He belonged to a scholarly and literary family. One of his brothers, Shaikh Muhammad Ismail, was a noted scholar of Sindhi language and literature, while his other brother, Shaikh Muhammad Ibrahim was a distinguished broadcaster, a well-known drama producer of Radio Pakistan Hyderabad and Karachi stations, of his era. He also served as the “Program Manager” of both radio stations.
Shaikh Aziz received his primary to intermediate education from Hyderabad, while he graduated from Thomas College of Journalism, London UK in 1968. He started his journalistic journey in 1957 by serving as a Sub-Editor in the daily newspaper ‘Karwan’, Hyderabad. From 1958 to 1961, he was the Sub-Editor of the famous Sindhi newspaper the daily ‘Ibarat’ Hyderabad. From 1961 to 1965, and served as the Senior Sub-Editor, and as Assistant Editor and Magazine Editor in the same newspaper from 1965 to 1975. In 1976, he started English journalism and was appointed as the Editor of ‘The Observer’, an English weekly. From 1977 to 1980, he was employed as the Editor of Daily Sindh News’ (a Sindhi newspaper). In 1980, he was appointed as the Assistant Editor and Magazine Editor of the daily ‘Jang’ Karachi, while from 1982 to 1987, he served as the Magazine Editor of the Urdu daily “Hurriyyat” Karachi. He also served as the News Editor of the same daily from 1987 to 1989. Then Mr. Shaikh was appointed as the Senior Sub-Editor and Night Editor of the daily Dawn, the leading and largest English newspaper of Pakistan in 1989 and served in the same position till 2000. From 2000 to 2008, he rendered his services as the Edition In-charge and Night In-charge of the same paper.
The name of Shaikh Aziz became a ‘Brand’ in Sindhi, Urdu as well as English journalism, because he introduced a new style in journalism. From the structure and heading of the news to the content and layout of the articles and columns of the editorial page, he formatted a new style of writing and editing, which included all the factors, from verification and investigation of the news to the impartiality of the newsmaker, from the ease of its communication style to saving it from the length, by virtue of which the news published by Shaikh Aziz and his team, seemed unique to read from all other contemporary newspapers. Also, the writing style of the articles published under his editorship used to be distinguished. As an editor of several newspapers, Shaikh also emphasized individuality in his newspaper’s style of “Get-up” and “Layout” and presentation, due to which every newsprint published under his editorial supervision, used to be exceptional in terms of content and publication, and the owners of various eminent newspapers of that era used to attempt to make Shaikh Sahib take care of their publications and decorate it with inimitability and make it prominent in the market.
Shaikh Aziz’s services in literary research also cannot be overlooked. From 1956 to 1957, he was a part of the “Sindhi Dictionary Scheme” as a Research Assistant in the editing team of the comprehensive Sindhi dictionary prepared by the Sindhi Adabi Board, Jamshoro under the supervision of Dr. N.A. Baloch, an eminent scholar, historian and folklore expert of the land. Aziz continued to render his research services in the preparation of this Comprehensive Sindhi Dictionary. In this important research work, his brother, Shaikh Muhammad Ismail and Mumtaz Mirza, his friend and a noted Sindhi culture expert, were also his research companions. During the same epoch, Shaikh Aziz also served as a Research Assistant in the preparation of the “Sindhi-Urdu Dictionary” by the Government of Pakistan. From 1957 to 1960, he also worked as a “Research Assistant” in the “Sindhi Folk Literature Project”, another very significant literary scheme of Sindhi Adabi Board Jamshoro, once again under the patronage of Dr. N.A. Baloch in 1978.
Continuing his literary services, Shaikh Aziz wrote a unique research paper (monograph) in English on “Rise and fall of writing studies in human communications”, which received immense praise from the local literary circles. Among the outstanding literary and research works (publications) of Shaikh Aziz, the following are worth mentioning:
1- “Sindh Joon Pur-Asrar Kahananiyoon” [The mysterious Legends of Sindh] Published: 1960
2- “Al-Hamra Ja Dastan’a” [Tales of Al-Hamra] Published: 1961
3- “Intakhaab” (Compilation of Sindhi fiction) published: 1963
4- “Naqsh-i-Latif” (The Compilation of articles written on the life and message of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai] Published: 1964
5- “Preface to the Catalog of Books” (English) Published: 1972
6- “Aalami Sahaafat” (Published: 1975)
7- “Mun Lenin Jo Deh’u Ditho” [I saw the land of Lenin] (Russia’s travelogue) Published: 1976
8- “Bhutto: Memories and Remembrances” (English) Published: 1993
9- “Raag Sagar” [The ocean of Music] Published: 2004
10 – “Khirthar” (English) Published: 2006
11 – “Compendium of the Poetry of Shah Latif in four languages with appropriate Musical narrations” (English) Published: 2006
12- “Nandhe Khand’a Mein Dramay Ji Tareekh’a” [The history of Drama in the subcontinent] Published: 2007
13 – “The Tribute” (English) Published: 2007
14 – “Takseem’a Khaan Takseem’a Taa’een” [From the partition to Partition] (The Political History of Pakistan) Published: 2008
15 – “A History of Sindhi Literature” (English) Published: 2008
16 – “The Origin and Evolution of Sindhi Music” (English) Published: 2008
17- “Sindh Ki Mehelaati Daastaanain” (The palace tales from Sindh) [Urdu] Published: 2009
18- “Notes on Sindh” [Essays about Sindh] (English) Published: 2009
19- “Bar-e-Sagheer Mein Moseeqi Likhann’a Ji Riwaayat’a” [The tradition of writing music in the subcontinent] (Sindhi) Published: 2010
20- “Musical Notes” (English) Published: 2010
21- “Bhutto Khaan Zia Taa’een” [From Bhutto to Zia] (Sindhi) Published: 2012
22- “Daaroon A’een Kaaroon” [Treatments and the remedies] (Autobiography – Sindhi) Published: 2018
23 – “CHANG [Ancient Musical Instrument from Indus Valley]” (English) Published: 2021 (after his demise)
Shaikh Aziz’s intellectual services never stopped till his last breath, as he kept writing with devotion. His more than 3000 articles were published in various newspapers in Sindhi, Urdu as well as English. Oxford University Press Karachi proudly included his excellent research paper on Pakistani music, titled ‘The Tradition Goes On’ in their new Millennium publications. Another paper by Shaikh Aziz, titled ‘Global Slavery’ was published on the eve of an international conference held in Johannesburg in 2003, which was later preserved by the United Nations as part of its official record.
As a musicologist, many of Shaikh’s research papers were published in noteworthy research journals of international repute, abroad.
Shaikh Aziz, besides being involved actively in practical journalism, also taught journalism to the students of the University of Sindh Jamshoro from 1978 to 1980 as the visiting Professor of the Department of Journalism, and also led numerous journalistic and literary organizations and held important positions in several institutions, including being the President, Hyderabad Press Club (1963 to 1966), President, Hyderabad Union of Journalists (1974), Member, Board of Governors, Mirza Qaleech Baig Chair, University of Sindh, Jamshoro, Sindh (2008), Vice Chairman, Sindhi Adabi Board, Jamshoro (2008 to 2011) etc.
In recognition of his journalistic, literary as well as research services, Shaikh Aziz received the “Silver Jubilee Award of Excellence” from the University of Sindh Jamshoro in 1998, the “Literary Excellence Award” from the University of Karachi in 1999, and the “Literary Excellence Award” from the University of Karachi in 2000. He was also honored with various prestigious awards including “Deeplai Excellence Award of Journalism” and the “Progressive Literary Award” received in 2001 along with many others.
Music had not only been a beloved subject of Shaikh Aziz in terms of research and writing, but he himself had extensive knowledge of music and was fond of playing and listening to various musical instruments. He used to play the harmonium and flute himself. He not only had in-depth knowledge of almost all the genres of Sindhi music, including folk, classical and semi-classical but also had an extensive acquaintance with the music, musicians and singers of the subcontinent. He used to listen in detail to all the vital local singers as well as western compositions and regularly kept reading about them prudently. His personal music collection contained a rich collection of music from Sindh as well as music from the sub-continent, the Middle East and Europe, stored on MPs, spools, audio cassettes, CDs and computers. He was one of the few chosen fans of this country to treasure precious music.
Shaikh Aziz, met his maker 4 years ago on October 7, 2018, at the age of almost 80 years, while travelling from Karachi to Hyderabad. He passed away due to a cardiac arrest and was rested to eternal sleep at the Pehelwan Goth Graveyard of Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Karachi the next day.
The panache of journalism that Shaikh Aziz introduced, is now followed and imitated by a large number of his disciples and followers who are now lighting beacons in the arena of communication with this flair of modern journalism, and this style will live on from generation to generation and will continue to be the hallmark of “Shaikh Aziz’s school of thought”, keeping him alive for a long time.
The author is a freelance radio and TV broadcast and print journalist, poet, prose-writer, researcher, columnist, blogger, translator, media Expert, and author of 12 books in Sindhi. He writes regularly for esteemed English, Urdu and Sindhi papers and websites. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org