Islamabad: Sher Ali Khalti, English-language daily reporter staff in Pakistan, thanked God for his luck.
In 2014 he was recruited as an office boy at The News, Lahore, and his job mainly served tea to staff or get printed articles.
Today, he works in the same organization as investigative journalists and his articles on militant attire Jamat-ul-Dawa (JuD) and Sharia courts, honor killings, the Chotu gang (the famous kidnapper gang in South Punjab) and missing persons have been highlighted at newspaper.
For him, it was like a dream come true.
Originally from Rojhan, a remote and backward town in the Rajanpur district of South Punjab, Sher Ali Khalti lost his father during the 2005 floods in the Indus.
All their property and cotton crops were destroyed. “I was finishing graduation at the time. My father breathed his last in front of me. I still remember I carried him on my shoulder and waded through the water, “Khalti recalled.
Because of his father’s death, he was unable to complete his graduation and his family was employed by the local landowner. Besides working on the land, he began to give tuition fees.
Then like most educated South Punjab youths, he went to Lahore in 2010 to find work and complete his studies.
While living in Lahore, he completed graduation. It took six years to complete what should have been only two, but he was not hopeless. He then completed a Masters in English from the University of Punjab, Lahore, and later, a Masters in Mass Communication from the National University of Modern Languages (NUML).
Fortune smiled at him in 2014 when he visited the newspaper office for a job. Khalti said he was so desperate that he was mentally prepared for the job of a security guard. But like luck, the office manager told him that there was a vacancy for an office boy / assistant. He took it.
But how he turned to reporting from the office boy again has elements like fairy tales.
Those were the days when kidnappers Geng Chotu attacked parts of Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan. They kidnapped rich people and kept them in the Rajanpur area.
One day, while serving tea, Khalti overheard an editor talking to his reporter on the telephone desperately asking for some exclusive parts about the Chotu gang.
Being a native of the area and with some connections there, Khalti offered that he could interview the Chotu gang leader and do it. It was an exclusive story and later, law enforcement agencies and security forces contacted Khalti for an intermediary role.
In 2016, he officially joined the paper as a reporter. Today, Khalti lives a happy life with his family – two children and wife – in Lahore. Although not very well paid, he enjoys the reputation of a good investigative reporter. He has held training workshops on Counter Violence Extremism (CVE) and Counter Terrorism (CT) and has been a member of the Fact Finding Mission in the Kartarpur Corridor established by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).
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