Colleagues mourn death of veteran Pakistani editor Saleem Asmi
He was a former Khaleej Times news editor
A calm, peaceful and seasoned journalist who matured to a point where he could decide in the blink of an eye what was news — and what was not. That’s how ex-colleagues remembered Saleem Asmi, former Khaleej Times news editor, who passed away in Karachi on October 31. He was 85.
Those were the days of pioneering journalism — and some fine editors — in the UAE. With a deep insight into the Arabian Gulf and Middle East region, Asmi was KT’s gold standard at the time. The paper rose in stature in the entire Gulf, its editorial integrity and accuracy being its leading lights.
Asmi was supplements editor before being elevated to the post of news editor. He was a very broadminded and positive person who everyone respected. Sub-editors and reporters who were doubtful about local or international content would stroll into his cabin for advice, and he would readily guide them.
Asmi welcomed new joiners with the kind of bonhomie that journalists understand, which made them feel at home. While Jamil Akthar supervised the news desk, it’s the soft-spoken Asmi who controlled news operations from his glass cabin.
He will be remembered not only as an efficient journalist but also as an editor who upheld editorial freedom, integrity and code of ethics. He batted for the news desk and always took the responsibility for any goof-ups in the paper.
As he left KT after a long stint to take up responsibilities at the Dawn in Karachi, Asmi left an indelible mark in the KT newsroom.
In an obit, Dawn said that during his stint as editor, he paid special attention to covering art.
He decided to take the risk of publishing an Osama bin Laden interview by a non-staffer because he thought the report contained hard news about nuclear technology. He was also responsible for launching Dawn’s Islamabad edition.
While Pakistan Information Minister Shibli Faraz said journalism had lost a “shining star”, Senator Sherry Rehman said “Pakistan journalism lost one of its best and brightest”.
After several decades, we can still picture him, with reading glasses balanced on his nose, poring over page bromides at midnight before they went to the cameras. Asmi sahab, all the best in that great world beyond.
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