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Veteran journalist Talat Aslam dies at 67

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.

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.”

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”.

Television anchor Hamid Mir, too, was saddened by his death.

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.

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”.

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