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A tribute to Tariq Aziz (1936-2020)

Spending childhood in Sahiwal (then Montgomery), academic qualifications of Tariq Aziz were average. He came to Rawalpindi in 1961 as Radio Pakistan Staff Artist (anchoring programmes). His modest beginning was evident when he lived without a home in Lahore. He joined state-run television channel at the age of twenty-eight and became its first announcer in 1964 at its opening in Lahore.

According to producer and Former Director state-run television channel, Zaheer Bhatti, Tariq Aziz became an inspiration for others. His natural inborn talent with amazing vocabulary in Urdu and Punjabi poetry emerged brilliantly. He also served as a producer at state-run television channel Karachi. However, as a producer, he wasn’t happy and resigned. He was missing on being on screen. He was then to play a much bigger role on state-run television channel and as well as in twenty-eight films. And when it came to state-run television channel Neelam Ghar, which played for almost four decades, it was largely extempore-without the script. He brought confidence and exuberance to his work and never lost charisma and aura even now at the age of eighty-four.

TV producer and Former Director state-run television channel Khawaja Najamul Hassan said Tariq Aziz was one of the most loving and admired media personalities. A multi-faceted person: debater, student leader, announcer, actor, film producer, writer, poet, and much more. He was blessed with a photographic memory. Madame Noorjehan described him as ‘Siahi Chut’- blotting paper.

At state-run television channel, he strictly followed its three glossaries in letter and spirit: information, education, and entertainment. And this pretty much went on for over fifty years. At Neelam Ghar, a quiz programme where participants were rewarded with prizes for correct answers, even a watercooler was presented by Tariq Aziz in style. His political affiliations with three political parties did not reflect in his work.

Tariq Aziz wrote two books and was even good at mimicry. He was self-possessed and never talked low about anyone in their absence.

Producer Khurram Rana went back into the golden years of the TV saying his legacy was his simplicity and focus with intellect. In 1964, when TV began, the small box was not allowed to be seen in small towns. However, Neelam Ghar was an exception when everyone in Mohallas got together and watched his quiz show.

Actor-director Usman Peerzada recalled those days when TV was lit up with his face and voice ‘Dekhti aankhon’ aur suntey kanoon aap ko Tariq Aziz ka salaam pohnchay’. He carried vast knowledge of literature. He was an intense human being. His forte was his deep roots in his soil.

“I believe” he once remarked, “The first test of a person is his humility.” That was Tariq Aziz.

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