Aurora Magazine

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Published in Jul-Aug 2019

The gentleman raconteur who loved Karachi

Published Jul 17, 2019 10:03am
Remembering Nusrat Nasrullah (1947-2019).

One of the finest gentlemen I knew, Nusrat Nasrullah was a senior columnist at the Morning News in 1976, when I started as a trainee sports reporter. He was doing city reporting and cultural activities and I was interning at the sports desk with the indomitable Hafeez Mirza Saleem (H.M.S) Baig!

We somehow clicked and remained friends since then and for almost 40 years; he was a wonderful person to know, share information with and talk about the arts, culture and basically whatever was happening in our beloved city – Karachi. His concern for the city was genuine and he tried his best, through his well-read columns, to instil common sense in administrators when it came to providing civic amenities to the people.

Nusrat, an alumnus of St. Lawrence’s Boys School Karachi, excelled in studies, particularly English Literature and went on to take up writing as a career option. He once said to me: “If it wasn’t for my teachers in school, I would have chosen something else as a career; they implanted in me the power to think, speak and write well.”

He did his Master’s in English Literature from the University of Karachi and then immediately took the first steps into the realm of journalism. He wrote for The Leader as a reporter on social and cultural issues. From there, he switched to the Morning News and wrote on subjects he liked best, the city, culture and the social scene. His columns were read by many people and his name became synonymous with ‘What’s happening’ in Karachi.

In the eighties, when I was with the hotel industry and was liaising with a host of newspapers and magazines, I came across a wonderful woman in Zuhra Karim’s She magazine: her name was Bilquis Nasrullah. Many pioneering PR activities were launched in the eighties in hotels and She was among the best magazines to partner with, especially with Bilquis and Zuhra leading the way. Not knowing (at that time) the relationship between Bilquis and Nusrat, I called my friend and said, “I know this wonderful woman with a gruff voice who shares your name, do you know her?” He laughed and said: "She is my mother!”


Nusrat was a raconteur and loved to engage in discussions on art, culture and society. He liked to make friends and at city receptions, one could see him in deep conversation with people around him. Although he understood politics well and knew the background of our then politicians, it was his conscious decision not to write on politics.


Nusrat was a comrade to many people, so I asked another common friend – Afia Salam (a prolific sportswriter of that time and probably the first woman to write on sports) to give her views on our mutual buddy.

She wrote: “Nusrat Nasrullah and I had unfinished business; we were supposed to visit each other to see our cats and plants. So, when I received a text message from him, I thought it was about that and a feeling of deep sadness enveloped me when I realised it was his brother who had messaged using his phone to inform me of his demise.

Nusrat was the ‘namaloom fard’ (not for long) who changed the course of my life. Back in the late seventies, early eighties when I was a rookie freelance cricket journalist, he (without having met me) recommended me to Zohra Yusuf, the editor of The Star weekend edition. I learnt about this much later, after I was hired. This recommendation changed the course of my career from a wannabe researcher in archaeology to a journalist and never have I regretted it. It also made me seek him out to thank him and over the decades, he became an advisor/mentor/friend and we remained in touch.

A great conversationalist with a sense of humour, he would give frank comments on my articles. However, our topics over the past few years were more about cats, their welfare, antics, and another shared interest, gardening, that went to the extent of sharing maali (gardener) information. This happened whenever we bumped into each other at events or even during phone conversations. The loss of his wife last year was something he didn’t really get over with and his sadness was almost palpable. Now he too has left us. I will miss those out-of-the-blue calls and conversations. May he rest in peace.”

Nusrat’s job at Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) fulfilled his inner desire to do what he could do best: profiling the company and acting as the official spokesperson for the media. He kept PPL favourably poised as one of the most successful companies in Pakistan. He also initiated the company’s newsletter called Progress and with professional wisdom, reached out to the company’s key stakeholders, staff and those who mattered.

Even while at PPL, Nusrat remained in touch with the journalistic fraternity and wrote frequent columns. In the early 2000s, his column on social themes which appeared in DAWN’s Metro pages was widely read. He also contributed to the Business Recorder.

Nusrat was a raconteur and loved to engage in discussions on art, culture and society. He liked to make friends and at city receptions, one could see him in deep conversation with people around him. Although he understood politics well and knew the background of our then politicians, it was his conscious decision not to write on politics.

The renowned DAWN columnist and cricket commentator Omar Kureishi was his maternal uncle, and the celebrated London-based English novelist, Hanif Kureishi, is his cousin. Although he came from a distinguished line of eminent people, Nusrat carved his own niche and remained the simple professional writer/journalist that he was, doing good for the people of the city and the country.

Farewell my friend.

Menin Rodrigues is a corporate communication consultant, writer and historian.meninr@gmail.com