Altaf Gauhar

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Altaf Gauhar (died in 2000) wiki

"In the mid-1970s, Gauhar came to London, and with financial and philanthropic support from the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), which later went controversially into liquidation, he set about launching a number of initiatives to highlight, mainly through responsible journalism, the problems and challenges confronting developing countries. His aim was to achieve a working partnership with the Guardian, then edited by Peter Preston.

"Having newly joined the paper as a foreign ideas person, with a willingness to obtain more coverage for so-called third-world issues, I was deputed to negotiate with Gauhar and his advisers. We met for several beguiling, but convivial, sessions in discreet Mayfair curry houses, eventually clinching a deal. Very soon, with Gauhar and myself as its first co-editors, there were meetings in New Zealand House, where Third World Media (with Altaf as chairman) had its offices, and in March 1978, the Third World Review, consisting of one or more Guardian pages, was on the road...

"Throughout, he was a sort of intellectual impresario, finding time simultaneously to start, from London, an academic journal, Third World Quarterly, a monthly magazine called South, and to launch the Third World Foundation. He also wrote books on political matters, and occasional poetry...

"At the age of 39, after a series of senior government commercial posts, Gauhar was appointed information secretary for the rightwing president, Ayub Khan, and given unprecedented powers to manage the press, a role comparable in many ways to that of Alastair Campbell to Tony Blair (and attracting much of the same sort of obloquy from the general public). During his tenure, draconian laws governing the press were passed, something for which Gauhar later publicly apologised.

"On leaving the civil service in 1969, he became editor of the quality Pakistani news-paper, Dawn, where he was twice imprisoned, latterly when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was chief martial law administrator. It was while in jail, with no other reading matter, that Gauhar became deeply absorbed by the Koran, from which he was later to make several distinguished translations, the last one shortly before he died, when he was in great pain and undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.

"On release from prison, he left Dawn for London. After BCCI went into liquidation, he returned to Pakistan, and more journalism. He poured his energies, his thinking and his skills into the role of editor-in-chief of the Muslim." [1]

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  1. Altaf Gauhar, Guardian, accessed September 3, 2009.