Veteran journalist, political commentator and senior editor of English daily The News International, Talat Aslam, has passed away, the paper’s website reported on Wednesday. He was 67.
Aslam’s career spanned many publications, noteworthy among them were assignments at Herald magazine and The News, which he went on to lead. He also had a sizable presence online, where he would analyse a variety of issues on Twitter, often with witty takes that would cut to the heart of the matter.
An advocate of human rights and media freedom, even in his final few tweets, he exhorted the government to not do what its predecessor did to the media.
Deplorable. ARY replaced on channel 1 on Storm Fiber by Cartoon Network, moved to a late number. Deja vu. During the previous govt, Geo was regularly pushed to a back channel.
Dear government: please don’t be a mirror image of the previous media-unfriendly and repressive govt!
— Talat Aslam (@titojourno) May 24, 2022
His death triggered an outpouring of grief from fellow journalists, politicians and rights bodies.
Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman, who worked with Aslam at Herald, said it felt like her heart would “burst with grief upon hearing that old friend, veteran journalist @titojourno just passed away”. “He was the kindest, funniest, wittiest, warmest soul in the whole world.”
Feels like heart 💔will burst with grief upon hearing that old friend, veteran journalist @titojourno just passed away.He was the kindest, funniest,wittiest, warmest soul in the whole world. His life was never easy, but he always bore all with a smile. May u be smiling now Tito pic.twitter.com/LseJFYNCKV
— SenatorSherryRehman (@sherryrehman) May 25, 2022
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said it was “deeply saddened” to hear of Aslam’s death and that he would be remembered for his “wit and warmth, and for mentoring scores of young journalists”.
HRCP is deeply saddened to hear that senior journalist Talat Aslam @titojourno has passed away. He will be remembered for his wit and warmth, and for mentoring scores of young journalists. Our deepest condolences to his family, friends and @thenews_intl colleagues.
— Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (@HRCP87) May 25, 2022
Television anchor Hamid Mir, too, was saddened by his death.
Sad news. May Allah rest the soul of Talat Aslam in peace. My condolences to Imran Aslam and his friends & family https://t.co/VcDvf9jzZi
— Hamid Mir (@HamidMirPAK) May 25, 2022
Dawn editor magazines Hasan Zaidi said the late journalist was “my closest friend, mentor and sounding board for the past 30 years”. He also said he learnt the most about journalism from Aslam, after his own father.
Reporter Zia Ur Rehman said “life is so unbelievable” and that he had just met his “mentor, editor and friend” yesterday. ” He was gem of a person, always with a smiling face,” he added.
Our mentor, editor, friend @titojourno sb passed away early this morning. Life is so unbelievable. Yesterday afternoon @zburki and I met him and gossiped a lot. He was gem of a person, always with a smiling face. RIP Talat sb. pic.twitter.com/4dxJAXWmZO
— Zia Ur Rehman (@zalmayzia) May 25, 2022
Journalist Zebunnisa Burki said he “was never just boss; so much more than that”. She added that “words will never do justice to the gentlest teacher I’ve had — with a wit that could have you laughing for hours”.