Rest in peace: A teacher and a gentleman to the core

Published: April 29, 2015
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Dr Syed Waheedur Rehman

Dr Syed Waheedur Rehman

KARACHI: “Thanks for highlighting this important issue. You are preserving a record for generations to come.”

My friend and mentor, Dr Syed Waheedur Rehman, better known as Dr Yasir Rizvi, would undoubtedly have sent me this message this morning had he been able to read his obituary.

For many months, it had become a routine. I would pen a piece criticising the Karachi University (KU) administration for its malpractices or highlight an issue affecting the largest public-sector university in the province, and Dr Rehman, despite being the media adviser to the varsity’s vice-chancellor, would appreciate me for it. “I myself was a journalist for around nine years and I know the value and the dangers of reporting the truth,” he would say upon meeting me, wearing his trademark glowing smile. “Keep it up! And do not be bothered if your news stories fail to make a difference in our society. Eventually, they will.”

On Wednesday afternoon, however, this bright-eyed man lay cold and stiff at the Edhi mortuary among bodies — bodies that were known and unknown and bodies that had, like his, become the victims of Karachi’s ruthless target killers.

Inside the mortuary, the cold suddenly became unbearable. Sana and Baraka, his two daughters, and his wife Sarwat must have made some plans to celebrate their beloved father and husband’s 43rd birthday in exactly a week, on May 6.

The train of my thoughts lingered around the remarks he made when we last met, a week ago at the KU mass communication department.

“How cruel and cold-hearted one needs to be to perpetrate the cold-blooded murder of an innocent, an intellectual, a scholar,” he had said. “In my personal capacity, I am doing everything to help Dr Shakil Auj’s family secure justice.”

I replied with some tongue-in-cheek advice to watch out for the ‘mercenaries’ involved in the high-profile murder of KU’s outspoken Islamic Studies faculty dean, who had also supervised Dr Rehman in his doctorate.

“Aray yar, hum jese insignificant logon ko kon maare ga? Ye ‘namaloom afraad’ sirf kaam ke afraad ko maarte hain [My friend, who will kill insignificant people such as I? These unidentified persons only kill significant people],” he said, brushing off even the possibility of anything like what happened to him on Wednesday as he left home for the university.

He was not insignificant though. Since he joined the university as an assistant professor in 2012, he had mentored hundreds of his students about how to report the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. His students could certainly vouch for him as a man of impeccable character.

Before joining KU, he had been teaching journalism at the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology since 2003, while also working as a staff reporter for the Daily Ummat. Until 2007, he kept both these jobs, but later decided to keep his focus solely on teaching.

Perhaps KU vice-chancellor Prof Dr Muhammad Qaiser was right when he remarked, while standing beside Dr Rehman’s body at Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, that the neglectful and ineffectual Sindh government was responsible for his murder. “What worse can you expect when the mentors of our next generation have been ruthlessly murdered one by one and we do not even know why they are being killed?”

Dr Rehman was laid to rest at the Yaseenabad graveyard on Wednesday evening, in close proximity to his modest residence at Latif Square in Federal B Area Block-16. Let us not forget that his killers are still at large.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2015.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • Jawad Zafar
    Apr 30, 2015 - 12:46PM

    Rest in Peace. May Almighty be Pleased with you. May your family be able to bear this loss.

    We all are responsible for this ruthless act, and we all are equally prone to it too.Recommend

  • Sana Shahid
    Apr 30, 2015 - 10:22PM

    Though I usually avoid listening the hard news but still somehow the media field has hardened my heart. No matter how barbaric the headline is, It impacts me for maximum an hour. The whole world is so much disturbed by sectarian violence… The war state of Saudi and Yemen, the recent earth quake of Nepal, people being massacred everywhere. The dilemma is, every incident whether it’s national or international has become news for me. I used to look into the matter as a journalist. I only knew the academic definition of target killing before today.. But today when my beloved Teacher Sir Yasir, someone who taught me the meaning of mass media and terrorism has been targeted, I am able to decipher what actually terrorism is. Its not only total destruction of his family but thousands of his students’ future as well who were present at his funeral. Even I don’t know how I will continue my education as it will be so tough for me to go to the same place where I used to attend his lectures till yesterday. He was everything a student looks for in a teacher. He was a delightful person to know and has impacted so many lives and for that his legacy will carry on. He will be deeply missed but this incident will not and must not be forgotten. Not just target killers, but everyone, from the wider population to the top management is responsible for the barbarity our teachers were subjected to. We as human beings are fast moving backwards rather than forward in the evolutionary ladder of tolerance, mutual understanding and love for each other which reflects the total failure of mankind. How long will we keep neglecting the target killing of our teachers, our mentors? Isn’t it the high time to take stand against the Mafia or Are we waiting for the time when they will target our own families?Recommend

  • lkhan
    Apr 30, 2015 - 10:45PM

    Extremely sad, words fail at such times. May his spirit be ever present through his alumni…. My heartfelt sorrow for his family and all those who respect and love him.Recommend

  • maliha
    May 1, 2015 - 9:02AM

    May Allah bless his soul and grant him place in jaanat .He was a loving person still can’t believe we lost him till when are we gonna lose these gems enough is enough Recommend

  • May 2, 2015 - 12:44AM

    May his soul rest in peace Recommend

  • Danish
    May 2, 2015 - 11:17PM

    @Sana Shahid:
    Lets make a team and I am serious!Recommend

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