Farewell | Political economics

Journalist Talat Aslam died on May 25 at his residence in Karachi. He was 67 years old.

An icon of the old school of journalism, Aslam (better known as Tito) was widely recognized for his witty takes on Twitter on current political and social issues in the country.

He had suffered from kidney failure since 2016 and was undergoing dialysis three times a week. However, he went on with his life and work without complaining.

He was born in Chittagong, then in East Pakistan. In 1971, his family moved to Lahore and then to Abu Dhabi, where he received his early education. Later he went to England to study anthropology at University College London.

During his media career – mostly English print journalism – he was most associated with two major media groups: Dawn and Jang. After completing his studies at UCL, he moved to Karachi and joined Herald, where he worked as associate editor and then editor-in-chief. His monthly colleagues included Sherry Rehman, Zafar Abbas, Azhar Abbas, Hasan Zaidi, Idrees Bakhtiar, Aamer Ahmed Khan and Zaigham Khan.

In the early 2000s, Aslam and his close friend, filmmaker Hasan Zaidi, left Herald and joined Geo TV before its launch. However, after a brief stint at Geo, Aslam started working for Dawnthe editorial section of. In 2004, he joined forces with The news Internationalof which he was the editor at the time of his disappearance.

Many colleagues from The news remember him as a generous mentor of advice and story ideas. Many picked up the nuances of reporting on city life in conversations with him ranging from politics to art and culture.

Following news of his death, leading politicians, journalists and people from diverse walks of life took to social media and issued statements to express their grief and offer their condolences. His friends and colleagues continued to tweet anecdotes and personal stories throughout the day, some of them reminiscing about the different ways he had touched their lives and careers..

Aslam loved travel, music, food and culture. “When he came back from an outing, he shared stories of adventures and folk songs he had chosen along the way. How could he remember these folk songs? wondered Hasan Mujtaba, who in the 1990 was a frequent visitor with the late Musadiq Sanwal and Mohammad Hanif.

Following news of his death, leading politicians, journalists and people from diverse walks of life took to social media and issued statements to express their grief and offer their condolences. His friends and colleagues continued to tweet anecdotes and personal stories throughout the day, some of them reminiscing about the different ways he had touched their lives and careers.

Federal Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman said on Twitter that she felt her heart “would burst with grief upon hearing that old friend, veteran journalist Talat Aslam, had just passed away.”

“Aslam was not just an old-school journalist, with the utmost integrity, he was a seasoned English editor,” she said. “He was the kindest, funniest, wittiest, warmest soul in the whole world.

MP Sanaullah Baloch, an occasional contributor to The news, said Aslam had always been supportive of his writing at a time when few people had the courage to publish the Baloch perspective. MP Mohsin Dawar said Aslam helped him publish his first article.

Writer Fatima Bhutto tweeted that when she started her “writing life at the age of 24, I was lucky to have Aslam as my editor…He was funny, kind and left me write everything that touched me”.

Politician Afrasiab Khattak said anyone who met Aslam even once would never forget his wit, humor and humanity. “That explains the wide circle of friends he had from all walks of life. His death is a huge loss for journalism.


The writer is based in Karachi journalist and researcher. Twitter @zalmayzia

Laura J. Boyer