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Altaf Husain

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Altaf Husain

For the Pakistani politician, see Altaf Hussain.
Altaf Husain
আলতাফ হোসেইন
الطاف حسين
Industry Minister of Pakistan
In office
17 August 1965 – 15 May 1968
President FM Ayub Khan
Preceded by Abul Kashem Khan
Succeeded by VAdm Syed M. Ahsan
Editor–in–Chief of the Dawn Newspapers
In office
14 August 1947 – 16 August 1965
Preceded by Office established
Succeeded by Ziauddin Suleri
Personal details
Born Altaf Husain
(1900-01-26)26 January 1900
Sylhet, Sylhet District, East Bengal (now Bangladesh)
Died 25 May 1968(1968-05-25) (aged 68)
Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan
Resting place Model Colony Cemetery
Citizenship British subject (1900–47)
Pakistan (1947–65)
Nationality Pakistani
Political party Muslim League
Residence Karachi, Sindh
Alma mater University of Calcutta
University of Dhaka
Occupation Journalist

Altaf Husain (Bengali: আলতাফ হোসেইন, Urdu: الطاف حسين‎; 26 January 1900 – 15 May 1968), was an eminent educationist, journalist, and the Pakistan Movement activist. He is noted as one of the pioneers of print journalism in Pakistan and was the founding editor and the first editor-in-chief of English language newspaper, Dawn which he edited for almost twenty years.

In addition, he served as minister of industry in the administration of President Ayub Khan from 1965 until resigning in 1968 due to health reasons. He is widely regarded as one of the key activists in the Pakistan Movement and penned several critically important articles in support of case of Indian Muslims in British Indian Empire.


Education and government work

Altaf Husain was born in Sylhet, Sylhet District, East Bengal (now Bangladesh) into a family of Muslim Bangali zamindars, on 26 January 1900. After receiving his education from Sylhet, Husain moved to Calcutta to attend the University of Calcutta where he studied English language.[1] He earned a BA in English from Calcutta University and moved to Dhaka, East Bengal.[1] He attended the Dhaka University where he studied English Literature and subsequently earned an MA in English language from University of Dhaka.[1]

Upon his graduation, he joined the Kolkata Municipal government where he became Director of Public Information from 1942 until 1943. He later proceeded to join the Indian Ministry of Information as press adviser. Although, he worked for the Indian government, he subsequently began to write political articles in the Statesman, penning the fortnightly column "Through the Muslim Eyes" under the pen name, Ain-el-Mulk, which reflected the Muslim point of view.

Pakistan movement and Industry ministry

Shortly thereafter, he left the Indian Ministry of Information and started to write a column "Dar-el-Islam" (lit. "Doors of Islam") for the Statesman but under the pen name, Shaheed (lit. Martyr). For a brief period of time, he also wrote columns for the Calcutta-based "Star of India".[2] During this time, his incisive writing won recognition and attention from Muhammad Ali Jinnah (founder of Pakistan) who had contacted him to meet him in his residency in Mumbai.[2] Eventually, he was asked to take a position of Editor-in-Chief of the Dawn which was founded by Jinnah in 1945.[2] He took over the office in Delhi and began printing the Dawn newspaper].[2]

As an Editor-in-Chief of the Dawn newspapers, he came to public notice and prominence, and was admitted into Jinnah's close circle of advisers. In this capacity, he played a critically important role in the success of the Pakistan Movement which led to the creation of a separate homeland for the Muslims of the South Asia.[2] After the establishment of Pakistan, he moved his senior staff from Delhi to Karachi while he continued his editorship of Dawn in Karachi and remained so from 1947–65.[3] His influence as the founding editor of the Dawn, his role in the Pakistan Movement and his extraordinary relationship with Jinnah meant that his was amongst the most influential voices outside the government. While defending East-Pakistan's rights, he strongly assailed the idea of its separation from Pakistan.[3] For some time, he joined the faculty of journalism at Karachi University to teach and instruct courses on journalism.

In 1959, his services were recognised by the Government of Pakistan and he was conferred with the Hilal-e-Pakistan, in a public ceremony in 1959. In 1965, he was invited by President Ayub Khan to join the government, which he surprised many by accepting .[3] Ultimately, he was appointed Industry Minister of Pakistan and oversaw the rapid industrialisation as well as the process of privatisation in Pakistan. He retained the ministry until 1968 when he resigned due to poor health.[3]

Death and legacy

Altaf Husain resigned from the Industry ministry 10 days before his death. He died on 25 Ma, 1968 and was buried with state honours in Model Colony cemetery. The street in Karachi where Dawn was first published is today known as "Altaf Husain Road."

Regarded as a model by young writers he excelled in the role of the crusader. Dawn remarked eight years after his death:

Altaf Husain was basically a crusader; his chief weapon was his powerful pen. His commitment to the cause of the Muslims of this subcontinent was total; his loyalty to the Pakistan Movement and its great leader unflinching and unshakable. Like every great fighter he fought bravely and relentlessly. He gave no quarter and asked for none. And like every great editor, he was resented and loved, feared and respected, praised and derided . . . . Altah Husain joined Dawn, Delhi, as editor and plunged himself heart and soul in the titanic struggle for Pakistan. Soon his editorials became the most important exposition of the Muslim League point of view. He wrote with passion, and argued with rare force, clarity and perseverance. Dawn became the focal point of League politics. It had the blessings of the Quad himself and was managed by no less a person than Liaquat Ali Khan. Altaf Husain fought single-handed all the great Congress newspapers and cast terror in the Congress camp.
—Editor-in-Chief of Dawnsource[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Ali, Syed Muazzem (11 February 2011). "In Memoriam Altaf Husain : "The Maker and Breaker of the Governments and Powers". Pakistan link, USA. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Staff writer. "Down Memory Lane : Altaf Hussain 1900–1968". Pakistan Institute of Public Affairs. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d The Oxford Companion to Pakistani History (The Oxford Companion to Pakistani History). "Altaf Husain (1900–1968)". Journalism Pakistan. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  4. ^ Editorial (25 May 1976). "The Martyred: Altaf Husain". Dawn area studies, 1976. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 

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