Zulfiqar Ali Bukhari

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Zulfiqar Ali Bukhari
ذوالفقار علی بخاری
Born 1904[1]
Peshawar, British India
Died July 12, 1975(1975-07-12)[1]
Karachi, Pakistan
Nationality Pakistani
Known for Radio Broadcasting
Website http://web.archive.org/web/20150518103828/http://zabukhari.com/

Zulfiqar Ali Bukhari often abbreviated as Z. A. Bukhari (Urdu:ذوالفقار علی بخاری) was a distinguished and legendary Radio broadcaster of British India and later Pakistan. He was also a writer, poet and musician. He was the first director-general of Radio Pakistan.[2]

Early life[edit]

Born into a family of peer ( Sufi mystics/spiritual guides) in 1904 in Peshawar, British India. Zulfiqar Ali Bukhari, or Z. A. Bukhari as he was popularly known, came to Lahore after passing his matriculation exam. His elder brother Patras Bokhari, one of Urdu’s finest humorists, lived there. At Lahore, the younger Bukhari took admission into Oriental College and completed his Munshi Fazil, the highest degree at that time in the oriental branch of knowledge.[3]


Bukhari training with the BBC Home Guard at Bedford College in 1941.

Z. A. Bukhari in his autobiography Sarguzasht writes: “As I came out of a tea house in Peshawar, I ran into my friend Qazi. Reading a clipping from Lahore’s newspaper Tribune again and again, he was just smiling in reaction to it. On being asked, he told me that an advertiser had invited applications, in care of a post box, for someone who knew English, Urdu, Persian, Arabic, Pushto and Punjabi. The mere thought that how anybody could know that many languages was making him smile. And I thought "well, I at least know a little of all of them". I stormed into a typist’s shop, typed an application and mailed it mentioning the names of Mirza Mohammad Saeed Dehlvi and Dr Mohammad Iqbal as references.”[3]

The advertisement was from Shimla’s Board of Examiners (an institution established in British India to teach vernaculars to the British officers) and Bukhari was selected for the post. It was back in 1925 and he was 21. He became a Munshi (or a teacher) and was ultimately promoted as the head of the bureau of translation. Besides his profession, Z. A. Bukhari also took part in other theatrical activities.[citation needed]

One of Bukhari’s British students at Shimla was later posted as Assistant District Commissioner to the then governor of Punjab. And when the government decided to run the radio service in a professional manner and from London sent Lionel Fieldon – a maverick war veteran – to set up a full-fledged broadcasting station in 1935 in Delhi, that student of Bukhari’s recommended and introduced him to Fieldon. Z. A. Bukhari’s talents blossomed when the British decided to run the radio in a professional manner and launched a broadcasting station in Delhi. Sir Malcom Darling recruited Bukhari on the recommendation of the controller of broadcasting for All India Radio, Lionel Fielden, to set up the Indian section of the Eastern Service. Initially Bukhari and his team only contributed a weekly news report and an occasional cultural programme. Bukhari was trained by Lionel Fielden in the art of broadcasting. Bukhari was then appointed at the newly established AIR (Akashvani (radio broadcaster)) Delhi station as programme director.[3]

In 1939, Bukhari, as a Station Director of AIR (Akashvani (radio broadcaster)) Delhi station, got transferred to Bombay (now Mumbai) station of AIR (Akashvani (radio broadcaster)).[4]

Z. A. Bukhari helped the Bombay radio station make a lot of improvements. There were many people at Bombay radio station he helped like the film playback singers, G. M. Durrani, Suraiya etc. Durrani called Zulfiqar Ali Bukhari his 'Ustad' (teacher) to show him respect.

After the Partition of India and creation of Pakistan, he was made the first director-general of Radio Pakistan (Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation) (then known as Pakistan Broadcasting Service on 14 August 1947, when Pakistan emerged on the world map as a new country). The most important thing is that the independence of Pakistan was announced through Radio Pakistan on Aug 13, 1947 at 11:59 pm.

In 1967, he served as the first general manager of PTV-Karachi Center (Pakistan Television Corporation) as it started broadcasting in the city of Karachi.[5][2]


Bukhari was a workaholic. With his indefatigable energies and love for broadcasting, he worked at the radio station till late into the night. Nasrullah Khan in his book Kya Qafal Jata Hai has described how Bukhari would sit with singers, guide them, compose new tunes and would even sing with them. At radio he introduced many innovative ideas. He would write many programmes and broadcast them, too.

A hard taskmaster and a man who had been immersed in culture and literature, Bukhari did not tolerate slights in broadcasting and especially emphasized the correct Urdu pronunciation. Some experts were especially hired by him to check and correct the pronunciation of artistes. During Bukhari’s tenure, the radio station was a place frequented by intellectuals, writers, musicians, poets and scholars. He turned Radio Pakistan into an institution where raw hands got their early training and went ahead in search of greener pastures. A great many of them became celebrities in their respective fields.[1]

Literary work[edit]

Syed Ghulam Husain Jafri has authored a book on Bokhari called "Baba-e-Nasharyaat: Marconi say Bokhari Tak".[6] In this book the author has traced the history of radio from its invention to establishment of BBC, All India Radio and Radio Pakistan and has tried to narrate the biography of Mr Z.A Bukhari. Mr. Ghulam Husain Jafri has the credit to have detailed discussion with him for about 2 years during his service at Radio Pakistan. A detailed commentary can be found on Mirza Zafar-ul-Hasan, Bukhari’s friend and colleague at Radio Pakistan and a writer in his own right, published a special issue of Ghalib, a quarterly published by Idara-i-Yadgar-i-Ghalib, on Bukhari posthumously. He also compiled Yad-i-Yar-i-Mehrban, a book on Bukhari. Both the publications contain Bukhari’s satire columns and some transcriptions of his broadcasts, including the rare ones broadcast by him in Urdu from the BBC during his stay in London.

Bukhari’s other books include Sarguzasht, an autobiography, Jo Kuchh Main Ne Kaha, a collection of his verses and Raag Darya, a book on classical music of Pakistan and India.[2]


Z.A. Bukhari died in Karachi on July 12, 1975.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d http://www.radio.gov.pk/12-Jul-2016/remembering-1st-dg-radio-pakistan, A tribute to Zulfiqar Ali Bukhari, the legendary radio broadcaster, Radio Pakistan website, Published 12 July 2016, Retrieved 15 Sep 2016
  2. ^ a b c http://www.dawn.com/news/1071344/dawn-features-july-08-2008, Zulfiqar Ali Bukhari as a radio broadcaster, Dawn newspaper, Published 8 July 2008, Retrieved 15 Sep 2016
  3. ^ a b c http://razarumi.com/reclaiming-the-legacy-of-za-bukhari/, 'Reclaiming the legacy of Zulfiqar Ali Bukhari' on razarumi.com website, Retrieved 15 Sep 2016
  4. ^ http://batish.com/sd/lifesketch.html, Zulfiqar Ali Bukhari as Station Director of All India Radio in 1939 on batish.com website, Retrieved 15 Sep 2016
  5. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cJ4fr9BwWQ, Zulfiqar Ali Bukhari reciting 'marsiya' on Pakistan Television, videoclip on YouTube, Retrieved 15 Sep 2016
  6. ^ http://www.dawn.com/news/827555/urdu-literature-bokhari-of-the-radio, Article on Zulfiqar Ali Bukhari in Dawn newspaper, Karachi, Published 31 Oct 2010, Retrieved 15 Sep 2016

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