Shahid Batalvi Speaks

with apology to Black Elk for he speaks first

Khalid Hasan – Dead or Alive, deserves the same obituary

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First Law of Human Synchronicity: If you have an issue with someone, address it with them directly. Second Law: Don’t speak ill of those who have passed on. Third Law: If someone does insist on doing it and continues to do it, give them the opportunity to recant, especially if the information they are presenting is defamatory and false. Final Law: If they don’t, return the favour.

I had written the following pre-posthumous obituary for Khalid Hasan, perhaps a year before he actually passed away, but had chosen not to publish it. I waited four years for Mr. Khalid Hasan to think about what he had written. Instead of recanting he had decided to further build upon it, in his later articles.

Its a pity, Mr. Khalid Hasan that you made your exit, for I was planning to file simultaneous defamation lawsuits against you in Washington DC (your last place of residence) and in Pakistan where under the auspices of The Friday Times, you had published the said article. I guess now can read your obituary and consider the favour returned.

Out there on the other side of the door, Internet access is truly ubiquitous,  RF propagation is in free space but without attenuation and Shannon’s Law falls apart. So you will see this post as soon as I put it on my blog. Have a nice life after life.

Khalid Hasan’s pre-posthumous obituary: first written on March 3rd, 2008

Every year as March 7th approaches, I think about the article that Khalid Hasan published in The Friday Times (TFT April 16-22, 2004, Batalvi and Bhutto: A Case to Answer) and every year I try to forgive him, based on my upbringing and training in civility, gesture and discretion. This year, I changed my mind. Since Mr. Khalid Hasan so eloquently structured this obituary for my father that I would like to return the favour pre-posthumously, lest I take pity on his soul when he actually passes on. So here goes.

Mr. Khalid Hasan, what still surprises me the most about your article is the series of questions that you tangentially posed and for which the real and factual responses could only have come from Ijaz Batalvi himself. You had many an opportunity to ask these questions to him directly and your last opportunity was when you visited him in Lahore shortly before he passed away. His health was failing but his mind was still sharper than a sword. What stopped you?

Why did it conveniently take you a month after his passing away to pose these questions? He is not here to respond to your insinuating nonsense. I, for one, am not going to answer for him and neither will anyone else from his family. I guess you will have to ask him when you do meet him on the other side. I am not going to justify his professional actions. He would have done an excellent job of that had he been around and chosen to do so himself. You have a right to your opinions just like everyone else. My only challenge Sir is that you had the audacity to suggest that Ijaz Batalvi compromised his professional and moral integrity by taking on the prosecution of the murder case of Nawab Mohammad Ahmad Khan in which Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and four FSF officers were the accused. Anybody who knows Ijaz Batalvi’s name will vouch for both his personal and professional integrity without hesitation based on his life’s record. So let’s address yours’ for a moment by browsing your self-serving advertisement on Wikipedia.

It states that you “ … resigned in protest when the Bhutto government was overthrown by Gen. Zia-ul-Haq…”. On that somewhat humid July morning in 1977, for right or wrong, when the tanks rolled towards 70 Clifton to counter the FSF enforcement sitting in front of the gate, for all practical purposes, a Martial Law had been imposed in the country, if not in name yet, and the establishment that you worked for, became defunct. Resigning at that point only sounds romantic to the naïve reader but seems rather oxymoronic, wouldn’t you say. And what would you Sir, know about protest, even if it smacked you in the face. If you want to protest, go and join the legal community in Pakistan today and find out what real protest means when the Lathi makes solid contact with your ribs.

Your Wikipedia advertisement also states that, “…worked in London with the Third World Foundation and the Third World Media before leaving to join the newly-established OPEC News Agency (OPECNA) in Vienna, Austria ….”. It’s a pity that this statement conveniently leaves out the fact that you were fired from your job due to gross professional misconduct. I could elaborate but civility takes the better of me.

It is also a pity that despite having the opportunity to spend time with all those literary giants whom you ever so often mention in your reminiscing articles, you acquired nothing of human value from them and remain a diminutive man. Lower level mammals will acquire more in lesser time through social instinct and micro-organisms will acquire yet more through osmosis.

You Sir, who has nothing constructive to offer to society, are simply spinning around the axle of history, driven only by some emotional context of events and individuals through association. You are perhaps trying to justify that your own meaningless life may have some worth, if somehow associated with that big event or that appropriate person in history. People like yourself who don’t understand professionalism, or have no sense of who a professional person is and have no profession themselves, undermine the sensibility to profess anything that they are stating as their public or private views.

It is sad that I have to stoop to your level to give you the baptism of fire that you need and deserve. This response is disproportionate for obvious reasons. A civil and proportionate response would not awaken you from your cognitively lacking and emotionally driven slumber that drives you to make unsubstantiated claims about someone’s professional and moral integrity. In closing, let me honour you by presenting an epitaph that I would be more than happy to etch on your grave should you chose to have one.

Here lies a two bit copy writer from The Pakistan Times who posed as a journalist by writing “this and that”. He reached the epic level of his incompetence and like any dysfunctional lottery winner, could not best utilize his fifteen minutes of fame. He never compromised his professional or moral integrity, for he subscribed, to neither.

Next time you decide to suggest, under the guise of a journalistic piece that is emotionally tainted, politically biased and factually subject to hearsay, that someone compromised their professional and moral integrity, think about something you may have heard growing up on the streets of Sialkot, “PhLay ApNae ManJay THlay DanDa PHaer”.

The score with TFT is not settled yet. If the editorial management of a newspaper condones and facilitates the publication of defamatory statements then their liability is not limited.

Perhaps when courses in journalistic integrity were being taught at the prestigious university of their academic evolution, they were out sipping coffee at Copper Kettle. Maybe it was Latin that did them in. convicium contra bonos mores.

The author is the Vice President of Telecom and Technology Strategy at Nexius Inc., a telecommunications consulting company based in metropolitan Washington DC area. He can be reached at his personal email address at


Written by Shahid Batalvi

March 12, 2009 at 7:15 pm

Posted in Personal

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