For a major part of my journalistic career, I have had to make the graveyard shift — the price you pay for editing the broadsheet. Also, one has had the good fortune of employing skill in advertising and a substantive stint in the electronic media where “time is scant and competition tough” as they say in idiomatic Urdu.
However, I remain an inveterate aficionado of magazine journalism to this day. The world is full of them — enough to fill a sack if wishes were magazines!
But one is especially enamoured of the fare next-door with Outlook, Open, Tehelka and India Today, to name a few, churning out quite an enchilada week after week after week. Wish we could take a leaf out of their rich brew and move away from being in a perpetual state of Politalkistan — a near diseased state of being consumed by politics.
A few years ago when I was editing The News (RWP), Mushahid Hussain casually asked me at a private reception what I felt was the major difference between Indians and Pakistanis. “Confidence,” I reckoned, to which he responded with a furrowed brow: “How?”
“Stable institutions, a booming economy and an empowered bourgeoisie — all of this makes them confident and assured of their place on the global stage. In other words, they are comfortable in their skins,” I said, by way of elaboration.
“We are anything but; not only do we not let the hair down so-to-speak, we have this delusion about being in a geographic location that makes us indispensable to global direction, upended only by the suspicion that the world is somehow, somewhere conspiring against us,” I pitched.
As well, I informed him how at the time of this exchange, an otherwise prominent political weekly across the border was not given to the impulse of running a political crisis on the cover in favour of the immensely readable five favourite films of India’s who’s who (the prime minister included) and why!
To be sure, that does not mean one is for relegating developments that affect the country in any major way, but you have to wonder at the near-habitual resort to overt political pitch — especially, when the fare is so rampant in our national life. One would have thought television and the daily op-ed already do quite heck of a job pinning us down on that score!
Therefore, the conscious decision at Pique to go the other way; to be sure, we take politics with as much seriousness as it possibly deserves but we could do by looking at this vast Khyber-to-Karachi expanse through the prism of a more humane face, if you like. Pakistan, few can deny, is bursting with interesting stories to be told in any sphere — other than the mind numbing cycle of ‘breaking news’.
As readers would have noticed, we also take an irreverent look at ourselves — the media — and how it is faring without fear or favour.
As well as thank the editors of leading monthlies and weeklies who have spoken with such clarity on the subject in this edition one has no qualms in acknowledging the fantastic challenge offered by The News on Sunday as well as The Express Tribune in making it a difficult pitch for us every month — some of the ideas are lapped up by them, making us rethink plans, and which fuels fresher ideas with exclusivity the benchmark.
There is much to learn here from each other’s experiences, and of this I’m sure — if we all competed for stories about people other than the usual suspects, it would enrich the discourse.
– Kamran Rehmat