Masood Hamid, Marketing Director, Pakistan Herald Publications, was found dead in his car on Friday night in Karachi. Suparnaa Chadda, Editorial Consultant at exchange4media Group and Author/Founder of Womanendangered.org, pays a tribute
An acquaintance, a friend, a liberal mind, Masood's first words to me," You've taken Pakistan by storm; the Indian High commissioner is looking forward to entertain you," over a phone call from Karachi to Islamabad in the February of 2013. He was then The Secretary General of the 'All Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS)' that organized the 'South Asia Media Summit' in an attempt to encourage people to people interaction across borders in the Indian Subcontinent.
With Masood as Secretary General and Sarmad Ali of The Jung Group as APNS's President, the media marketing and advertising fraternity considered this its golden period in Pakistan. A nation plagued with political instability, unbridled terrorism and international marginalization, it was imperative to have the support of free thinking leaders within the fraternity to propel the industry forward.
Masood was known among his peers as brave, witty, and a gentleman. "His support for me was my strength," says Yahya Sadozai of Enhancerz Communications.
Saadya Shariff, Marketing Director Jung Group says, "There wasn't a dull moment in his company, he had brilliant stories to tell."
"I found him a genuine leader. Alas our friendship didn't last long," says Nadeem Akbar of Midas Communications.
My last conversation with Masood was over a dinner party I hosted for him and his wife, celebrating the release of his book 'Hindu Temples in Pakistan'. True to his nature, Masood had an enraptured audience with his liberal tales. He spoke of Islam's rich heritage of images and icons that were not always banned. Miniature paintings which he had seen himself in Tehran, depicting Prophet Muhammad's life as recounted in The Qu'ran and other texts. We also regaled in the poetry of unsung freedom fighters such as Gauhar Jaan, a free thinker who apparently was sidelined by The Indian national Congress since she was a 'Nautch Girl'. Mere Hazrat ne Madeene main manayi Holi Gauhar Jaan's rebellious poem kept resonating in me long past our last conversation that night in New Delhi.
"I will be your host in Karachi" were Masood Hamid's last words to me that night.
Last night I received a graphic photo of Masood Hamid in a pool of blood in the driver's seat of his car with a pistol in his hand.
Shock is just a simple word. I try and seek hope in this gruesome act. Hope this isn't an act to silence yet another liberal mind. Hope that it may just have been a robbery gone terribly wrong. Hope that Masood Hamid is in a world more liberal than the one that he was born in.
Suparnaa Chadda is Editorial Consultant at exchange4media Group and Author/Founder of Womanendangered.org. (With inputs from Sayyad Ahmed Masud, Managing Director at Channel 7 Communications)