A long year without Rahimullah Yusufzai

Riaz Yusufzai

The 1st death Anniversary of one of the finest journalist & expert on Afghan Affairs Rahimullah Yusufzai was observed on 9th September 2022. Infact, it was a long year that we had to spend without Yusufzai sb.

Throughout the year he was remembered in every sphere of life by every segment of the society especially by the journalist fraternity. In International Conferences & Summits his analysis & observation on important issues were missed.

The Afghan Taliban regime particularly deeply missed his presence to highlight their untold suffering both at regional & an International forum. He was the only hope for them to alleviate the plight of its citizens and end the recurring cycle of conflict and war that has plagued Afghanistan for too long.

Indeed he was the most famous on Afghan soil amongst its people as they considered him the only journalist who can highlight their sufferings on every forum. In June during devastating earthquake in Afghanistan his write-up was needed to pinpoint the ground realities of the affectees to earn sympathies of the world community.

The Pakistani govt also felt his absence to shape its Afghan policy in light of his master piece articles & analysis as his news & rare views were trusted by all & sundry & were considered bacon of light for achieving the desired goals.

His stylish quality stories were missed to narrate the ordeal & sacrifices of Al-Qaeda Chief Dr Ayman Al-Zawahiri & TTP Commander Umer Khalid Khurasani after their reported deaths on Afghan soil which he usually did in his life time in the past in such happenings. The people of the country also badly needed his presence in the arena of journalism to know the real situation of the reported resurgence of Taliban armed groups in the backdrop of some recent incidents in Malakand division.

The govt senior functionaries were also deprived of his consultation on various important decision making policies as they usually approached Yusufzai for it & gave due respect to his suggestions as he was true patriot & always advocated national interest.

The current explosive political situation of the country also heightened the need for the presence of Yusufzai sb as whenever the politicians faced such types of situation, they would approach Yusufzai sb for consultation to sort out the impending problems…Armed & civil officers in NDU & NIPA cannot listen to his highly intellectual lectures in their in- service courses mandatory for their promotion which he mostly delivered in his life time.

The vacuum created in journalistic arena due to his death could hardly be filled & during the year his absence was conspicuous on Tv channels in different talk shows & the viewers missed with heavy hearts his most reliable & authentic observation & analysis on various national & international issues. This year for the first time his close colleague & senior journalist Faiz-u-Rehman went to Peshawar Press Club alone in gloomy mood to cast his vote for the presidential election of the press club. It was their routine to come together for any activities of the Press Club.

The whole journalist community considered them torch bearers & gave due respect to both of them. The public particularly the down trodden community of Abazai area remained orphan & realised his absence throughout this long year. Amongst the people of the area, Rahimullah Yusufzai was known as a great social worker rather than as a journalist. In Ramadan, Eid-ul-fiter & Eid-ul-Azha especially the orphans, disabled, widows, homeless, poor, oppressed & depressed section of the area extremely felt his absence.

Though Yusufzai Sb was found busy round the year during his life time for helping these people of the area but on such religious festivals his financial support for above mentioned segments of the society was unbelievably matchless which was a great source of mitigating their sufferings. For sure, these people considered themselves orphans as they did not receive Ramadan package in shape of items & money as they usually used to get it in his life time regularly.

This year poor school going children of Abazai area could not receive shoes, socks, school bags etc in winter as they regularly got these things in his life time. It was his grace & charasmatic personality that a lot of people turned into his hujra on Eid to pay their respect this being 1st Eid after his death & every one recalled his golden memories with him on this occasion. Helping the distressed people was his passion & this scribe still remembers that in 2010 devastating flood many stranded people were evacuated from Kalam via helicopter with his coordination.

It is certain he must would have played his pivotal role in rescuing the recent flood affectees too had he been alive. We the close relatives are still in deep shock & had not yet recovered from the agony pushed by his departure from this mortal world. Words cannot explain the discomfort & pain in which the whole family is haunted.

He was very caring & we feel lucky to be grown under his guidance which was full of discipline & mannerism. Small kids & children of our entire family also remembered this great personality & why not because he was real pride of the entire Yusufzai Tribe. They used to innocently called him ” HAJI BABA “

They are continuously saying Haji Baba should now come to home as he spent much time in the grave without knowing that no one has returned from there. Inspite of his international fame & repute Rahimullah Yusufzai was down to earth & equally used to share moments of joy and pleasure with small children especially with his grand children.

He often kneeled down & sit on his bending feet to say few words in their accent (childish) just to show his affection to them. Such was his affection for children & love for education that on every 31st March he used to call my children as well as other close family kids to know their examination result & congratulate them as per their performance in the examination.

During this year “Shama” Welfare Organisation Shamozai/Inzargai failed to arrange mass marriages for 30 to 40 orphan girls which was his great wish which he expressed in last days of his life. Though he left necessary reasonable amounts & SOP for materialising it yet the organisation could not manage to hold it. Arranging mass marriages are herculean task but such was his charismatic personality that he had held these functions regularly every year.

His absence was equally felt by his prayer colleagues in the mosque as Rahimullah Yusufzai used to offer 5 times prayer in the mosque regularly. History knows him as an intelligent and capable journalist who earned respect for journalism due to his credibility & sheer hard work.

Due to his fairness & impartiality in every interim set up he was the 1st choice mainly for Chief Minister slot but every time he humbly refused to accept it. The reason was that he was a professional journalist in its true essence and wanted to remain merely journalist till the end which he did. Most probably next year for the 1st time his name will be missing from probable interim set up list due to his departure from this world.

Two times national award winner i.e Tamgha-e-Imtiaz (2005) & Sitara-i-Imtiaz (2010 ) & having interviewed Osama Bin Laden & Mulla Omer, Rahimullah Yusufzai was counted among journalists whose acumen, integrity, ability and credibility was recognised both at national and International level.

The role of Yusufzai was always that of a resourceful, responsible and patriotic journalist. He never indulged in disputes & remained a beacon of light on the horizon of global journalism. The man, who inspired and enthralled many could not be ordinary but phenomenal. He was a league of his own & it was every body wish to just sit in his company & get blessed of his charismatic personality which was full of all flavours of knowledge. Yusufzai sb has nurtured a brigade of journalists in the country particularly in KP who are trying to emulate his foot prints in the field of journalism.

The veteran journalist raised awareness among people through his in-depth analysis. We could not narrate his achievements which are too many. His tall graceful figure coupled with remarkable modesty, etiquette & highest intellect and cherished memories continuously grabbed the whole family members during the long hard year.

Indeed, his vast knowledge, decent & respected behavour combined with generous personality was such that our whole family wished we had had the chance to spend more time with Yusufzai sahib. His family members have decided to assist poor families who are unable to easily meet their both ends because that is what Yusufzai sb had stood for. You are deeply missed on your 1st Death Anniversay & will be missed as long as we live.