The secret of Aslam Azhar's success is honesty, to this day he lives in a rented house. He has no house, no property. He has subordinates, whom he recruited in television. Who grew in senior positions, became dishonest
The secret of Aslam Azhar’s success is honesty, to this day he lives in a rented house. He has no house, no property. He has subordinates, whom he recruited in television. Who grew in senior positions, became dishonest and rich. Have houses. He was their boss, their teacher. He has not earned money. But he has earned respect. He experienced a hard life but a happy one.
Considered to be the father of Pakistan Television, Aslam Azhar was born in September 1932 in Lahore. He gained a Masters’ Degree in Law from Cambridge before joining Burmah Oil Company in Chittagong. He resigned in 1960 and arrived in Karachi, where he worked as freelancer, making documentaries for the Department of Films and Publications, Government of Pakistan. His film on Gandhara civilisation was well received.
In 1964, Aslam Azhar had the opportunity to team up with the Japanese on a pilot project to set up the first television service in Pakistan starting out in Lahore. Television was new all over the world. The first time he saw television when the Queen was crowned. But, it was so successful that Pakistan government decided to buy it, and he was made programme director. All programmes were live and television was from 6-9pm only. Monday was off for the first few years. Later he became Managing Director, the post he was forced to relinquish by General Ziaul Haq.
In December 1988, when Benazir Bhutto’s first tenure started, he became Chairman of Pakistan Television and Broadcasting Corporation, the service that lasted only twenty months. Since then, he has lived a life of retirement in Islamabad, reading books and wishing for a happier country to live in.
Aslam Azhar's passion was theatre. He teamed up with a good friend called Sami (Fareed Ahmed) to start a very popular theatre group called Karachi Arts Theatre Society (Kats) financed by Wajid Mehmood. They did a lot of plays in the Theosophical Hall. It was in the theatre group Aslam Azhar met Nasreen Jan, and decided to get married.
With Alhamra Theatre strong in Lahore in those days, he convinced Ashfaque Ahmed, Bano Qudsia and Dr Anwar Sajjad to write for television. His wife Nasreen helped him with television programmes for women and children. Soon PTV was for all age groups and classes.
Faiz Ahmed Faiz, his favourite poet, became his friend too. Surrounded by legendary literary figures and great actors, musicians and singers, Aslam Azhar created an environment where the great artists prospered and found satisfaction. He was hesitant about naming any names for fear of forgetting any one of them, which would be unforgivable.
Indians would record PTV plays and show them in their academies to their 'would-be' actors. One family makes one hand-made carpet in three years. And a factory makes tens of carpets in the same time. There is a difference in value and quality. That is the difference between plays of those days, and now!
Honest to the core and respected by all, Aslam Azhar is the father of PTV, taking it to great heights after a humble start in 1964. In 1968, he was given Tamgha-i-Pakistan for his services for television in Pakistan.
He has a son, Arieb Azhar, who is a musician.