HomeNewsBBC Urdu icon Rashid Ashraf dies in London

BBC Urdu icon Rashid Ashraf dies in London

Saqlain Imam

BBC Urdu, London

Syed Rashid Ashraf, an intellectual, writer and journalist associated with BBC Urdu for a long time, has died in Bromley, South East London. He was 91 years old.

Rashid Ashraf joined BBC Urdu London in the sixties and even after retirement occasionally mentored junior colleagues.

His cheerfulness, good manners and sociability made him dear to every heart.

Rashid Ashraf Sahib is survived by his wife Kishore, three daughters, Aini, Munza and Bushra, and hundreds of friends and relatives besides grandchildren.

The colleagues of YBC Urdu have always benefited from his power and pronunciation in Urdu language. His presentation style on the radio was like a friendly friend talking to his listeners.

Despite decades of experience in broadcast journalism, Rashid Ashraf never compromised on the accuracy of his script. He used to rehearse before every broadcast and urged his juniors to do the same.

Born in Delhi in June 1932, Syed Rashid Ashraf spent his fifty-five years in Bili Maru, a neighborhood of Delhi known for Ghalib’s letters as he lived there as a child. He came to Lahore after the creation of Pakistan.

After receiving his MA in Journalism from Punjab University in 1961, Rashid Ashraf worked in journalism for some time and then he became involved in the field of public relations. In 1966, he moved to London when he was selected by the BBC’s Urdu service.

Prior to his journalism degree, he obtained a BA from Dayal Singh College, Lahore and then worked for three years in the translation department of the Pakistan Army at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi.

From 1961 to 1966, Rashid Ashraf was associated with the West Pakistan Public Relations Department and then with the Information Service of the British High Commission, but also worked for Radio Pakistan. And when television broadcasting started from Lahore, he continued to present news there for some time.

He was also a part-time lecturer at Punjab University.

Apart from working as a broadcaster for the BBC Urdu Service in London, he was also a correspondent for Radio Pakistan. He also hosted a weekly one-hour telecast in Urdu/Hindi on the BBC for Asians.

After forty-two years of being associated with the BBC Urdu service, he completely called it quits in 2009. However, even after his retirement, he was busy translating books, including novels and fiction.

He was engaged in editing a dictionary. This Urdu dictionary was published by ‘Maqtadra Qaumi Language Islamabad’. Two editions of it were published in Pakistan while one edition was also published in Delhi.

Rashid Ashraf also translated current English and French terms and idioms into Urdu language to guide journalists to inform their readers and audience in their language on global issues.

Some of his short stories were published in literary journals of Pakistan. An Urdu translation of his English novel named ‘Constantia’ has also been published. Apart from this, he also wrote a novel ‘Bhok Ki Sadak’.

Speaking to his daughter-like friend and former BBC colleague, Dardana Ansari, he said, “Dying is more difficult than life.”


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