The Financial Express

Shahid bhai was a dependable leader

Shahid bhai was a dependable leader

Shahiduzzaman Khan, who we called Shahid bhai, was a soft spoken and very dependable leader of the newsroom. I had the honour to work with him in three newspapers and all of them had added new chapters in English journalism in Bangladesh.

Beginning at The Daily Star, we, under the leadership of late editor of The Financial Express, Moazzem Hossain started a separate 4-page business section which was the first such addition in any newspaper in Bangladesh. Demand or need for business news was not felt before in this way and never treated with much importance in our part of the world.

However, within a year a group of senior journalists under the leadership of Reazuddin Ahmed left The Daily Star and launched a potential rival, The Telegraph. I, too, followed mentors, Reaz bhai, Moazzem bhai and Shahid bhai. But the project failed miserably within years due to owner's lack of commitment to promoting independent journalism. Instead, he was more inclined to exploiting the power of an English newspaper to extend his political influence within and outside the country.

Shahid bhai at one stage decided to migrate to the United States. In 1993, Reaz bhai and Moazzem bhai duo organised this unique model to launch the country's first pink daily, The Financial Express. It was daring and a historic initiative. A fully dedicated financial daily was born following the pioneering business journalism of London's The Financial Times. And, from the very beginning The Financial Express got a syndication deal with FT for the exclusive right to reproduce its content in Bangladesh.

We all got excited with the prospect of history making. Shahid bhai returned to Bangladesh following persuasion by both Reaz bhai and Moazzem bhai. Understandably, Moazzem bhai had a bigger role in convincing him as both had a very good professional understanding since their days at the country's oldest English newspaper The Bangladesh (earlier Pakistan) Observer.

It feels like just the other day when Shahid bhai and I shared the same auto-rickshaw to return home after sending the final copy to the press. It saddens me most that I have lost two of my favourite mentors - Moazzem bhai and Shahid bhai in journalism in less than three years. My last meeting with Moazzem bhai was in Beijing in 2017 and with Shahid bhai, probably in the same year, at the National Press Club's anniversary programme.

My wish to visit them at their new office, The Financial Express's own premises, sadly remains unfulfilled. Now I can do only one thing to pray for their eternal peace.


Kamal Ahmed is a senior journalist and lives in London.
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