Rest in Peace Rehmat Shah Afridi: A Tireless Warrior for Press Freedom in Pakistan

By Jay Rover
Late Rehmat Shah Afridi, founding publisher of The Frontier Post
Late Rehmat Shah Afridi, the visionary founder of the English language daily, The Frontier Post, and an esteemed senior journalist, passed away on Saturday (December 9) at the age of 74. He leaves behind an unparalleled legacy marked by an unwavering commitment to press freedom—a legacy that stands unmatched among Pakistan’s predominantly compliant newspaper publishers and journalists.

Survived by his four sons—Mahmood Ullah Afridi, Jalil Afridi, Bilal Afridi, and Ahmad Shah Afridi—his departure signifies the loss of a true pioneer in English journalism, particularly in the northwestern regions of Pakistan. As the founding Editor-in-Chief of The Frontier Post, Afridi indelibly shaped the media landscape in the region.

More than a journalist, Afridi was a trailblazing mentor who paved the way for numerous aspiring journalists, helping them find their voices and purpose in the realm of news reporting. Under his leadership, The Frontier Post transcended its role as a mere newspaper; it became a bastion of journalism education, fostering knowledge, skills, and an unwavering commitment to truth and integrity in every journalist who walked through its doors.

Afridi’s fearless dedication to truth and relentless pursuit of justice set him apart. He fearlessly challenged the status quo through his journalistic endeavors, influencing public opinion and discourse. His courage, resilience, and unwavering commitment to journalistic ideals will serve as a benchmark for generations to come.

His steadfast commitment to an independent editorial policy often led to conflicts, particularly with the government of Mian Nawaz Sharif (in 1990s) and his then interior minister Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain. Afridi faced government retaliation, including the denial of government advertisements to his newspaper and withholding millions of rupees in advertisement dues. He was also falsely charged with drug trafficking, leading to nine years of wrongful imprisonment before his honorable release in 2008.

His passing marks the end of an era in Pakistani journalism—a journey that witnessed historic highs and lows in the pursuit of unrestricted press freedom. The Frontier Post fostered a generation of journalists indebted to its legacy for their success and professional integrity. Afridi’s path was filled with challenges— professional, financial and beyond—yet he persevered, building one of the most esteemed media houses of its time. As a mentor, he shaped the careers of many within The Frontier Post’s exceptional team of editors, reporters, and professionals.

During the dark era of Geeral Ziaul Haq’s martial law and subsequent political turmoil in Pakistan, The Frontier Post remained a beacon of fearless journalism.

Afridi, remembered for his kind-heartedness, wit, and forthright nature, possessed numerous qualities whose absence will always be deeply felt. His legacy as a remarkable man will endure. His passing is not merely a loss for journalism in Pakistan but for the entire region, which benefited from his tireless efforts in uncovering the truth.

Pakistan Week extends its deepest condolences to Rehmat Shah Afridi’s family and prays for his eternal peace.

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