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Celebrating Independence – the DAWN way

Published in Sep-Oct 2017
DAWN’s first-of-its-kind popular history project in Pakistan.

On August 19, DAWN published a special report titled The Founding Fathers which served as the curtain-raiser to 70 years of Pakistan and DAWN – a series of special reports published to coincide with the 70th birthdays of both Pakistan and DAWN.

Seventy Years of Pakistan and DAWN is the second commemorative compilation that the media group has published this year and possibly the most extensive popular history project undertaken by a media group; the first was The Dawn of Pakistan 1906-1948, a 37-insertion photo feature highlighting the main events of 42 years leading up to Pakistan’s Independence. It was published in DAWN from May 28, to August 15, 2017.

Following this success, Seventy years of Pakistan and DAWN consists of 16 special reports chronicling Pakistan’s 70-year history. Twelve of the reports consist of eight pages and cover a specific period of time. For example, The Founding Fathers covered the years 1947 to 1951, while the second special report, Parliament in Chaos covered the years 1951 to 1958; the last of these special reports which cover specific time frames is called At the Crossroads which will highlight the years 2013 to 2017, and will be published on December 16.

The remaining four special reports are 12 pages each, and centre on Pakistan’s Founding Fathers; The Legendary Liaquat and The Enduring Vision of Iqbal will be published on their death and birth anniversaries – October 16 and November 9 respectively. The remaining two focus on Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah: The Testament of Mr Jinnah was published on September 11 (his death anniversary), and The Legacy of Mr Jinnah which will be published on December 25 (Mr Jinnah’s birthday) and will bring the series to a close.

Adding both weight and quality to the contents is the fact that they feature perspectives by some of the most prominent historians of South Asia, including Dr Jaffar Ahmed, Khaled Ahmed, Ayesha Jalal, Roger Long, I.A. Rehman, Stanley Wolpert and S. Akbar Zaidi.

A prominent section within the reports is ‘About DAWN and journalism’ and they chronicle the evolution of Pakistan’s media landscape over the course of the last 70 years. The writings of many of Pakistan’s leading journalists and writers, including Zaffar Abbas, Amit Baruah, Owen Bennett-Jones, Javed Jabbar, Maliha Lodhi, Zubeida Mustafa, Abbas Nasir, Sherry Rehman, A.R. Siddiqi and Muhammad Ali Siddiqi, to name just a few, are featured in this section. Additionally, the works of former editors of DAWN, including Altaf Husain, Ahmed Ali Khan and Mazhar Ali Khan will be re-published, as will articles by Ardeshir Cowasjee and Zamir Niazi.


The series has a strong presence on Dawn.com; in addition to featuring the content of the print edition, the web edition features rare audio recordings and video footage that reflect the period each special report covers and can be accessed via a QR code or on Dawn.com.


Another interesting aspect of the reports is the fact that they contain two to three pages dedicated to excerpts from DAWN’s archives which have been made available to the general public for the first time.

Seventy Years of Pakistan and DAWN features over 200 rare photographs, taken by among others, Margaret Bourke-White, Hasan Bozai, F.E. Chaudhry, Azhar Jafri, Arif Mahmood, Irving Penn and Raghu Rai. These photographs have been sourced and curated from nearly 30 national and international archives, including the Directorate of Electronic Media and Publications, DAWN/White Star Archives, Getty Images, The Lahore Museum Archives, The National Assembly Archives Islamabad, National Archives Islamabad, as well as personal collections from the families of Altaf Husain, Allama Iqbal, Ayub Khan, Iskander Mirza, Malik Ghulam Muhammad and the Nawab of Dhaka.

The series has a strong presence on Dawn.com; in addition to featuring the content of the print edition, the web edition features rare audio recordings and video footage that reflect the period each special report covers and can be accessed via a QR code or on Dawn.com.

The audio-visual content includes speeches by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan, Khawaja Nazimuddin, Malik Ghulam Mohammad and Ayub Khan, as well as interviews that have been conducted specifically for the series. Works by poets and writers such as Saadat Hasan Manto and Faiz Ahmed Faiz are also featured in the form of audio recordings and videos as well as songs by Madam Noorjehan, Inayat Ali, Naheed Niazi and Ali Bakhsh Zahoor.

Habib Bank Limited (HBL) are the publishing partner for the online version. The bank has also released a special campaign ‘70 Years of Pakistan’, which appears in all 16 special reports. The campaign insertions have, so far, paid tribute to the founding fathers of the country: Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Allama Iqbal, Liaquat Ali Khan as well as the teachers, farmers and journalists whose contributions have helped shape Pakistan’s 70-year history. All the advertisements carry a baseline: “At HBL, we salute your dream and dedicate the nation’s 70th anniversary to you,” which is followed by HBL’s tagline: ‘Jahan Khwab, Wahan HBL’ (Wherever there is a dream, there is HBL).