The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) is devastated by the loss of Dr Mehdi Hasan, former chairperson and member of the present Council, who passed away earlier today. A veteran journalist, public intellectual and one of Pakistan’s foremost media historians, Dr Hasan was twice elected chairperson of HRCP and five times as an office bearer of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists.
As a teacher of journalism at the University of the Punjab and subsequently at Beaconhouse National University, he nurtured several generations of reporters and columnists, always emphasising the integrity of facts and evidence. Underlying his soft-spoken demeanour was a political astuteness that few can lay claim to. It was to Dr Hasan that many leading politicians—his former students—turned for advice. It was advice he gave invariably without fear or favour.
A proudly secular man, Dr Hasan had the courage of his convictions and long warned that Pakistan could not hope to become a true democracy so long as it pandered to religious nationalism. His unwavering commitment to freedom of religion, expression and opinion gave direction to human rights defenders and progressive journalists across Pakistan, scores of whom would congregate at his home in Lahore out of a shared love of poetry and political anecdotes.
Dr Hasan will be sorely missed and we extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends.