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Pakistan

Veteran journalist and analyst Rahimullah Yusufzai passes away in Peshawar

  • He received the Sitara-i-Imtiaz from Pakistan’s government in 2010 as an acknowledgement of his contribution to journalism
  • Tributes pour in for 'one of Pakistan's most respected journalists'
Updated 10 Sep, 2021

Rahimullah Yusufzai, veteran journalist and resident editor of The News, passed away in Peshawar on Thursday at the age of 66 after fighting a long battle against cancer.

His funeral will be held on Friday, said his son Arshad Yusufzai on Twitter.

"My father, Rahimullah Yusufzai, has breathed his last after fighting a long battle against cancer. His funeral will be held at our native village Inzargai, near Babuzai Interchange, Swat Expressway, Katlang Tehsil in Mardan District on Friday 10 Sep at 11AM," tweeted Arshad.

Rahimullah received the Sitara-i-Imtiaz from Pakistan’s government in 2010 as an acknowledgement of his contribution to journalism. He was also the recipient of the Tamgha-i-Imtiaz in 2004.

He started his career as a copyholder/proof-reader with The Sun newspaper in Karachi, while still a student. Over the years, his work and collaboration extended to BBC, Time magazine, and ABC. He is widely regarded as an authority on the Taliban, and Al-Qaeda, and known for his knowledge on the Afghan conflict.

Rahimullah's 1998 interview with Osama bin Laden itself became news due to his expertise in handling the session.

Condolences pour in

As news of his passing spread, many took to Twitter to express grief and offer condolences.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was saddened to learn of Rahimullah's passing.

"He was one of Pakistan’s most respected journalists. He was an opinion maker because his columns were well researched. My condolences & prayers go to the family," he tweeted.

Kamal Siddiqi, director of the Centre for Excellence in Journalism (CEJ) at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), said Rahimullah's strength was his integrity.

Siddiqi worked with the veteran journalist during his time at The News.

"Rahimullah Sahab was one of Pakistan's most respected journalists," Siddiqi told Business Recorder. "Honest, brave and outspoken. His strength was his integrity .. respected by all sides for his quality of reporting and impartiality.

"My association with him spanned over three decades and he was always there to offer me and other journalists of my age with encouraging words and support. Given the number of journalists he trained and mentored and the example he set with his work, Pakistan owes him a debt of gratitude."

Salman Masood, Pakistan correspondent at The New York Times, said an array of contacts, vast knowledge, and credibility were Rahimullah's hallmarks.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif said he was "heartbroken".

"A veteran journalist, seasoned analyst & thorough gentleman, his death has left a huge void in the field of journalism," Shehbaz tweeted. "He was one of the most credible voices on the politics of the region, particularly Afghanistan & war on terror."

Journalist Khurram Husain said that he was terribly saddened to hear of the passing of Rahimullah Yusufzai.

"Last I met him was in Karachi when he was speaking at an event. What a giant he was by virtue of his learning and insights. What a loss," he tweeted.

Journalist Zarrar Khuhro said there was a time when it was unthinkable to talk about Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, FATA, Afghanistan without referencing work by the veteran journalist or having him on the show.

Journalist Meher Bokhari said despite being a giant in his field, Rahimullah was an unbelievably humble and soft-spoken person.

Other journalists also paid their tribute to Rahimullah.

BBC State Department Correspondent Barbara Plett Usher said Rahimullah was a generous colleague and a journalist of great knowledge, wisdom, integrity.

"Some of my most meaningful reporting in Pakistan was done with his help. May he rest in peace," she tweeted.

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