A tribute to late Rahim Ullah Yusufzai

Rahim Ullah Yousufzai

Feeling guilty! 

I would have not been in the field of journalism today, had I not been inspired by his soft, contended but very impressive voice on radio while reporting for BBC Urdu and Pashto when I was a school-going child back in the 1990s.

My father (Baba) used to listen to the news bulletin of BBC Urdu daily on his ‘National’ brand radio set till late in the night and early in the morning, thus I got acquainted with the great name “Rahimullah Yusufzai” who inspired me so much that from my early childhood I felt as journalism was running in my veins like blood.

After doing my graduation from government degree college Timergara (GDCT) in 1999, I left for Karachi intending to take admission in mass communication besides practically learning as a trainee journalist where there were a lot of opportunities being the largest city of Pakistan.

To achieve my desired goal of becoming a professional journalist I worked hard and started working as a trainee sub-editor first with news network international (NNI) Karachi bureau located at Rafique center near Zainab Market Karachi and then as sub-editor with a local English language daily ‘Evening News’ situated at Altaf Hussain Haali road and printed by editor-in-chief Shah Waliullah Bhai.

After completion of my masters, I left for my hometown Timergra in Lower Dir district but soon left for Peshawar to quench my thirst for journalism where I met the honorable Saleem Safi sahib at daily Mashriq Peshawar who after thoroughly scrutinizing my work and experience advised me to work with an English language media organization but allowed me to work for the time being as an assistant translator with daily Mashriq Peshawar where I got an opportunity to work as an assistant to senior journalists Mumtaz Hussain Bangash and Syed Zubair Ali Shah.            

As per the advice of respected Saleem Safi sahib, I went to the office of daily ‘The Frontier Post’ in Peshawar and just started my duties as sub-editor but due to the uncivilized behavior of the owner, hopelessly, I once again left for Timergara my hometown.    

It was in 2011 that when I started to contribute my stories for the leading English language daily ‘The News International’ first on a trial basis from Lower Dir with TIMERGARA dateline and then on regular basis when great sir Rahimullah Yusufzai, the then resident editor of daily The News Peshawar allowed me to continue contributing my stories for the noted daily The News International from Timergara Dir Lower after thoroughly scrutinizing my stories without editing.

My ecstasy knew no bounds and I was almost paralyzed while listening for the first time the much familiar voice of great sir Rahimullah Yusufzai sahib when he called me asking for a picture to go with my story and after sending the picture, I told every soul that I knew about my chat with the great sir Rahimullah Yusufzai sahib. Afterward, sir, Rahimullah Yusufzai sahib used to call me to discuss news-related matters, and every time I took pride to have talked to my inspiration. Thus, I started chatting with the great sir Rahimullah Yusufzai first via phone as text messages and then through Whatsapp. I saved screenshots of my chat with the great Rahimullah sahib as an honor for me. Later, I got bold enough to directly call Rahimullah sahib who attended my call every time and responded in a soft, loving, and kind manner.  

To my great laziness or over cautiousness, despite my great desire since my childhood to meet and talk face to face to my inspiration, every time I contacted him in this connection, I found him either not available or out of the country due to his busy schedule. Once, perhaps in 2019 during the month of holy Ramadhan when I send him a text while I was in Masjid for Asar prayers in Malak Abad Timergara, sir, Rahimullah sahib replied at once “come to my office at The News office”, thinking that I was in Peshawar but I replied that I was at Timergara right now and the next day he had to be in Islamabad.

On October 13, 2019, when my byline story ‘Residents jubilant as Dir girl selected for PAF fighter pilot course’, I was still lying on my bed at 9: 30 am when my phone rang and as I saw sir Rahimullah sahib was calling, I at once jumped up and went out into the lawn in my house and received the call with great care. Sir, Rahimullah sahib appreciated me for my story in a lovely and very kind manner which I think is a great honor for me.  

When on March 30, 2021, my story ' Traditional wedding ceremony pulls crowds in Lower Dir' was published Rahimullah sahib called me appreciating my story and asked to send pictures to be sent to our web editor Wasif sahib in Karachi. I sent him pictures as well as potage and a little while later the honorable sir replied that all pictures and potage had been uploaded.

Later,  on April 26, 2021, when I filed my story ' Polish tourists say Pakistan is safe' i sent him pictures of Polish tourists to go with my story, Rahimullah sahib forwarded the pictures to Wasif sahib and sent me the Whatsapp number of Wasif sahib asking me to directly send pictures to Wasif sahib in future.

This year, in the first week of August, when I visited Peshawar in connection with my piece of work, I called Mushtaq Yusufzai a nephew of Rahimullah sahib and a senior journalist working with The News Peshawar that I wished to see Rahimullah sahib Mushtaq Yusufzai regretted and replied that Rahimullah sahib was ill and he was unable to meet people and asked me to pray for his better health only, the moment I felt embarrassed rightly thinking that perhaps I could not meet my inspiration the epoch-making great soul during his lifetime. 

And then, not too later than a few days, the news went viral on social media that the bright and radiant sun that had illuminated the garden of journalism for decades had set and I had only to go on a pilgrimage of the body when the noble soul had departed.

Written by Senior Journalist Shahid Hussain Yousafzai Dir Lower