The world of sports journalism in Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates was dealt a huge blow with the death of veteran journalist Rehanullah Siddiqui on Saturday. The 76-year-old who served as sports editor of multiple English newspapers, including Dawn, Khaleej Times and Gulf News, passed away in London last week.
Rehanullah covered sports, especially cricket, and was one of the leading journalists of his era. After his return from the UAE, he served as Dawn's Sports Editor for five years. Reports from London suggest that he was admitted to St Thomas Hospital after he fell down near the Victoria Station. After his condition worsened, the doctors put him on the ventilator, but later, on Saturday, advised his family to take him off the ventilator.
As a newbie, I had the honor of working with Rehan sahib during my times with The Cricketer, Pakistan. Since I was the Sub Editor, Rehanullah used to encourage me to expand my wings, and move out into mainstream journalism. Not only did he introduce me to senior journalists in the fraternity, but he also acted as a mentor helping me edit a few of his coffee table books. Whenever he was asked why he returned to Pakistan from the UAE, he used to say that there were major issues in that country. "Whenever I switch the lights on, they light up; there was never a shortage of water and everything was so clean that I started missing Karachi," he would say.
Senior journalist Faisal Aziz Khan, who also worked as a Khaleej Times correspondent in Karachi, remembers him as a very lively person. "Although I never had the chance to work with Rehan sahib, whenever we interacted, I found him to be a decent person. He used to contribute to KT even after moving to Pakistan and was rated highly by his colleagues and successors," he said.
Afia Salam, a former editor of The Cricketer, and Pakistan's first female cricket journalist, also remembered him as a lively, jovial person who was a friend of friends. "Saddened to know about Rehanullah Siddiqui's death. From the time I stepped into the world of cricket journalism, Rehan was a constant figure at the press box. He used to inject life into a press box that became sleepy or somber given the nature of the drab draws of the Test matches way back then. His 'shot bhai' was not really restricted to exploits on the cricket field but as a substitute for 'touche' or an exclamation mark at the end of the conversation. A thorough gentleman and a friend of friends, and I do not think he came across many who did not count him as one. May he rest in peace!'