Journalism in Urdu or in any other local languages for that matter was started much after the English language journalism, in the sub-continent. The founder of the press in India were the employees of the East India Company and European Christian Missionaries. Therefore, the origin of the press in India was naturally in English. For the first fifty years after the publication of the first newspaper in India, the profession of journalism popular exclusively among the Europeans only. It was in the third decade of the 19th century that the local population of India took interest in this trade.

In 1822 first local language newspaper Jaam-i-Jahan Numa was started from Calcutta. The paper was started in Urdu, then after some time it was converted into Persian with a section in Urdu. The leadership in journalism was in Bengal, Bombay and Madras, partly because these areas were first to come under British subjugation thus, first to receive Western education and partly because of the moral and material support given to them by the ruling class. The territories which now comprised Pakistan were not so advanced in the field of education especially the Western education. Therefore, newspapers arrived late in these areas and were small in number.

The provinces of Baluchistan, Sind and N.W.F.P. got the status of provinces after a long time. N.W.F.P. was a part of Punjab till 1910, while the province of Sind was included in the Bombay Presidency. Baluchistan was only a tribal area. Therefore, the important part was Punjab which the British annexed in 1849. Thus, it was after the British occupation that the press found its place in Punjab. The oldest Urdu newspaper of Pakistan is Koh- i-Noor of Lahore. Although the exact year of its starting publication is not known, however, it is on record that the paper existed in 1851.

The only Urdu newspaper worth the name in 1870 was “Akhbar-i-Aam”. Started by Lala Mukand Lai, Proprietor of a Hindi newspaper “Mitr Vilas” in 1870, it was soon converted into a daily and” became popular. Some of the Urdu periodicals in the Punjab of lesser importance were: “Akbar-i-Anjuman-i- Punjab”, (1870), “Faiz-i-Am” (1870), “Rehnumai Punjab” (1871), “Ataliq-i-Punjab” (1871), “Delhi Punch” (1880), “Kohi Toor” (1872), “Matla-i-Anwar” (1872), “Haqiqi Man” (1872J, “Hadi-e-Haqiqat” (1873), “Akhbar Jhelum” (1873), “Punjab Gazette” (1873), “Qasimual Akhbar” (1873), “Reformer” (1882), “Rafiq-i-Hind” (1884), and “Punjab Review” (1877). In 1877, the foundation of an important Urdu newspaper “Paisa Akhbar” was laid in Gujranwala. It was owned by Maulvi Mehbub Alam, who later shifted it to Lahore. The Paper carved a new path for itself by publishing articles of literary and educational value as well as notes and comments on national affairs. As its price was only one pice per copy, it soon became popular and commanded the largest circulation of 5000 (as compared to 1400 of the C. & M.G. and 2700 of the “Akbar-i-Aam”). Maulvi Mehbub Alam himself visited Europe for training in journalism which he imparted to other journalists working with him.

Out of the Urdu Papers, which flourished in the last decade of 19th century “Seraj-ul-Akhbar” is worth mentioning. Started by Maulvi Faqir Mohammad of Lahore in 1885, it continued till 1916, among the other widely circulated periodicals were Chaudhwin Sadi, Jafar Zatali and Punjab Samachar.

The centres of Urdu literature—Lucknow, Delhi, Meerut and Kanpur—had witnessed the horrors of 1857 too closely to venture into political journalism. Journalism at that time was also not financially profitable and the Muslim landlords who could afford this luxury had neither the taste nor the inclination for this risky field.

The War of Independence had been responsible for driving a wedge between the English- owned and the Indian newspapers and the racial hatred of the white rulers, inspired by missionary propaganda, had created a distinction between English language and Indian newspapers. While the British patronised newspapers like ” The Pioneer, “The Civil & Military Gazette” and the “Times of India, ” which had by then established themselves, enjoyed a special position and had close contacts with the high-ups, the national papers had no means of ascertaining the views and wishes of Whitehall.

In 1860, the Indian Penal Code was drafted by Lord Macaulay who very cleverly dropped the Sedition clause to convey an impression of liberty of the Press. This was, however, counteracted by Lord Canning’s Control of Press Act. Furthermore, the Oriental Languages Press Act was passed in 1878 (on the pattern of the Irish Coercion Act). This evoked strong criticism in the Press —and incidentally led to unity in its ranks. It was this national awakening which led to the rapid growth of the Press in the Punjab and other parts of India at the close of the 19th Century.

Maulana Zafar Ali Khan had received his higher education at the Aligarh Muslim University. He resigned from the service of the Nizam and, after the death of his father, brought the weekly “Zainindar” to Lahore and converted it into a daily. The Paper was originally started by his father Maulvi Siraj Din from his home-town Karamabad (Wazirabad) in 1903, mainly to champion the cause of agriculturists.

Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, a great literature and poet, soon raised the Paper to the status of a modern Urdu newspaper. He followed an extremist policy and launched a frontal attack both on Hindus and the British. He established a new school of journalism which had a powerful impact on the profession. Zamindar was the first Urdu newspaper to give a modern touch to the display of news, to publish editorial comments on national and international events and to introduce a regular humorous column.

And since the paper reflected Muslim emotions and sentiments, it soon acquired unprecedented popularity among the masses. He played a vital role during the Balkan and Tripoli Wars and the Khilafat Movement. He also waged a constant war against repressive Press laws. Zamindar had to pay dearly for its activites in the shape of conviction, imprisonment and forfeiture of securities. During World War I, the publication of Zamindar remained suspended almost for four years.

The Maulana availed of this opportunity and started “Sitara-i-Subh”, which like “Deccan Review”, made a valuable contribution to Urdu literature. Zamindar also provided training ground to new entrants in the field. Men like Abdullah Imadi, Wajahat Hussain, Ghulam Rasool Mehr, Abdul Majeed Salik, Charagh Hassan Hasrat, Nassrullah Khan Azeez, Murtaza Ahmed Khan Mekash and a host of others owe most of their prominence in the field of journalism to the initial training they received in Zamindar.

In the Punjab at least, Zamindar held the sway right up to the Khilafat Movement. Its only prototypes outside Punjab were Comrade, Hamdard and Al-Hilal. Comrade was started in English by Maulana Mohammad Ali in 1911 from Calcutta. It advocated Hindu-Muslim entente and therefore was equally popular among both the communities.

However, it could not survive when a heavy security was demanded from the Maulana for the historic article ‘The Choice of the Turks’ in September, 1914. The Maulana was interned for four years under the Defence of India Act. Afterwards, he started the “Hamdard” in Urdu but only three months after its appearance, the Maulana left the Congress in utter disgust and retired from active life on health grounds. Since restrictions were also placed on this Paper, it was finally shut down by his younger brother Maulana Shoukat Ali.

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, a great scholar and a nationalist, played an appreciable role in promoting the Muslim Press in the subcontinent. After having worked in literary magazines like Makhzan, Al-Nadva and for some time as an editor of the Vakil of Amritsar, he brought out the Al-Hilal in 1912 from Calcutta. The Paper established a high standard of Muslim journalism in so far as language, type and quality of paper were concerned, but it had to close down in 1914 due to restrictive Press laws. The Maulana started another weekly “Al- Balagh” but he was external from Bengali in 1916.

These periodicals influenced Muslim thought immensely and encouraged writers and political leaders to start their own magazines and newspapers in the Punjab. In 1919, “Siyasat” was launched by Syed Habib. Those were the days of the Rowlatte Act and the Montage Chelmsford Reforms. The Paper incurred the wrath of the British Government in the very first year of its publication and was placed under pre-censorship and one of its sub-editors was imprisoned for three months. The newspaper was asked to deposit securities a number of times during its life-time till it was closed down in 1937.

In 1927, Maulana Ghulam Rasul Mehr and Maulana Abdul Majid Salik served their connection with the Zamindar and launched their own venture, the daily Inqilab. Due to its thoughtful editorials, illuminating articles and humorous columns, it readily captured the attention of the intelligentia and gained a wide circulation. In the beginning, like the Zamindar and other Papers of the time, it advocated Pan-Islamism. It died after Independence, in October, 1949.

Zamindar, Inqilab and Siyasat, though each other’s rivals in many respects, forged a common front against the Hindu hierarchy and, by effectively meeting the challenge posed by their Hindu contemporaries—Desh, Kesari, Pratap, Banda Matram and Milap —glavanised Muslim opinion and paved the way for national solidarity. They were supported in their endeavour by “Muslim Outlook” (owned by Rifa-i-Aam Press and edited in 1922, by Abdullah Yusuf Ali and afterwards by Majeed Malik), Eastern Times (started in 1913 by Feroz Sons) in English and “Vatan” (started by Maulvi Inshaullah Khan in 1902) in Urdu. The last-named was a staunch supporter of Sultan Hamid of Turkey. It was closed down in 1935.

Although on the eve of world War II Punjab had 56 dalies but among them Popular papers were three or four (viz. Zamindar, Inqilab and Ehsan). “Ehsan” had joined the rank of Muslim dailjes in 1934 and was the first Muslim newspaper in Lahore to instal a teleprinter in its office. The newspaper faced its first upheaval five years later, when some of the senior working journalists (Maulana Murtaza Ahmed Khan Mekash, Maulana Charagh Hassan Hasrat, Bari Alig and Ashrat Ata) left it and founded their own daily “Shahbaz”. The paper was sold to the Unionist Party in 1940 who handed it over to the proprietor of Ehsan.

A milestone in Urdu journalism was the appearance of Nawa-i-Waqt, started by Messrs Hamid Nizami and Shabbur Hasan in 1940 as a weekly and converted, into a daily in 1944. “Nawa-i-Waqt’ adequately filled the vacuum that existed in the Punjab at a time when the Lahore Resolution had become an article of faith with the Muslims. Hamid Nizami had been an editor in the Orient Press, the first Muslim news agency set up by Syed Mohammad in 1936. His experience in reporting, coupled with sincerity and consistency in views, raised the “Nawa-i-Waqt” to the status of a powerful advocate of the Muslim cause. It was this Paper which for the first time introduced simplicity in style, straightforwardness, sobriety and objectivity in Urdu journalism,