KARACHI: Syed Fazle Saleem Asmi, better known as Saleem Asmi, veteran journalist and former editor of Dawn, passed away in the early hours of Saturday morning after a long illness. He was 85.
He is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter. Family members and friends said that the schedule of Mr Asmi’s funeral prayers would be decided after the arrival of his sons, who are settled abroad, in Karachi.
Being the first Dawn editor from the news side, Mr Asmi spent almost half a century in the profession and earned the excellence which was largely admired by his colleagues, friends and professionals of the media fraternity.
Born in November 1934 in Jhansi, India, he joined the profession in 1956 as an internee at The Times of Karachi and rose to retire as Dawn editor in 2003. Mr Asmi remained associated with different newspapers, including the Civil Military Gazette and Khaleej Times in Dubai, where he headed the newsroom in the mid-1980s. He joined Dawn in 1988 as assistant editor and finally retired from the organisation in January 2003.
Condolences on his demise poured in as colleagues, friends and leaders of the political parties remembered Mr Asmi for his professional excellence and contribution to journalism.
Federal Information Minister Senator Shibli Faraz in a tweet termed his demise a loss of “shining star” for journalism. Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also condoled over Mr Asmi’s death and called him a “proud part” of journalism history in Pakistan.
In a statement, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) also condoled over his demise while recalling his struggle and commitment for journalism, freedom of press, speech and expression in the country and strengthening of democracy and democratic norms.
Calling him an iconic figure, the PFUJ said that the late journalist played a vital role during the initial period of Pakistan as a founding member of the Democratic Student Federation (DSF), which was later banned by anti-democratic forces in the country.