20 years of The News: Witness to history

If you haven’t got the print edition - a 99-page collector’s item – check out this PDF copy of The News 20th Anniversary issue. Articles by Maleeha Lodhi, Ghazi Salahuddin, Azhar Abbas, Rahimullah Yusufzai, Sahar Ali, Amir Zia, Khaliq Zuberi, Farah Zia, Salman Rashid, Talath Naqvi, Zia Mohyeddin, Umber Khairi, Maheen Usmani, Sarwat Ali (my ‘encyclopaedia’), Anil Dutta, Shafqat Mahmood, Mayed Ali, Masood Hasan, Amir Mateen, Khalid Hussain (who took over as Sports Editor after Gul Hameed Bhatti’s illness), cartoonist Akhter Shah, and many others who have been part of this venture if not from the start then almost from the start. Many have been associated with The News on Sunday (TNS). Includes my piece on TNS, posted to this blog earlier. Well done, Sheher Bano, for putting this together. And thanks for including the section commemorating colleagues who are no longer with us, like Kaleeem Omar, Zulekha Ali, Najma Hazir, Hameed Zaman and others. May they rest in peace.

Changing the media landscape – article about ‘The News on Sunday’ for The News 20th anniversary issue)

Editor with Reporter: Probably discussing what to get for lunch. Photo: Rahat Ali Dar

For The News 20th anniversary supplement, published Feb 22, 2011.

The News on Sunday:  Changing the media landscape

By Beena Sarwar

The News on Sunday was launched in 1994, as The News on Friday, Pakistan’s first weekend newspaper – Friday was then a weekly holiday. In 1997, the name change itself reflected the ideological confusions that abound in Pakistan, where religion is freely used for political purposes, and as an excuse to retain the status quo.

Clearly, religion is conveniently dispensed with if it clashes with, say, financial interests, as when Nawaz Sharif, the country’s businessman-prime minister who was otherwise careful to keep the ‘religious’ lobby happy, reverted to Sunday as Pakistan’s weekly holiday. In doing so, he overturned a move made 20 years earlier by Z.A. Bhutto who had sought to consolidate power by playing the religious card. Nawaz Sharif’s decision was motivated by financial considerations, over-ruling the opposition of the conservatives. It indicated that anything is possible with political will, even reversing a decision taken in the name of religion. Continue reading

A standing ovation for an innings of the ages

Proud father with daughter at her graduation

Published in The News Feb 12, 2010

Pioneering sports journalist and statistician Gul Hameed Bhatti remembered

By Beena Sarwar

Karachi, Feb 12: There was laughter and some tears as friends, relatives and admirers gathered at an informal reference for the late veteran sports journalist and former Sports Editor The News, and former Editor The News Karachi Gul Hameed Bhatti, at The Second Floor community space near Defence Library.

Prominent speakers highlighted Bhatti’s thorough decency and honesty, selflessness, professionalism, his pioneering role in establishing cricket statistics in Pakistan and on a more personal level, his sense of fun, his love for music, cinema, food and off-colour jokes, his unreserved support of his journalist wife’s career and dedication to their children Kamil and Sara. Continue reading

Adieu Gul Hameed Bhatti

Gul Hameed Bhatti as I will always remember him (photo courtesy GHB Facebook page)

Feb 5, 2010: Sad day. Woke up this morning to the news that Gul Hameed Bhatti had passed away last night. I knew he was not keeping well, but didn’t know how ill he was – dedicated journalist, sports editor, friend, equal rights upholder, and fine human being. Went to the funeral this afternoon and it brought back so many memories – the last time I was there was probably when his wife Razia Bhatti, founder editor of Newsline, died in 1996. I had known them both since 1981, when I was an intern at The Star evening paper, now also sadly no more. Razia was then editor of monthly Herald, down the corridor.

Gullast we spoke was when I called you about a story I was doing on the Pakistan Women’s Swimming Team for IPS, several months ago. Your own reports provided great material on the issue of course, like this 2008 story in The News on Sunday Sports page. My story got delayed several months because my father was very ill and subsequently passed away. I was relieved for him when his suffering was over, and Gul, I am relieved your suffering is over and that you are with your beloved Razia where ever you are, together again.
Continue reading

“We Refuse to Be Held to Ransom By Terrorism”: Veena Masud, Pakistan Women’s Swimming Association

Mic announcing & diver2

Veena Masud announcing at a national swimming meet, Karachi, May 2009. Photo: Beena Sarwar

I’ve been wanting to do a report on Pakistan’ women swimmers since March 2009, when I first heard Veena Masud speak at a Szabist seminar in Karachi.

Q&A with Veena Masud below; don’t miss the Footnote at the end, includes reference to an old Shoaib Hashmi & Samina Ahmed skit.

“We Refuse to Be Held to Ransom By Terrorism”
Beena Sarwar interviews VEENA MASUD, Pakistan Women’s Swimming Association

KARACHI, Oct 29 (IPS) – Karachi-based, Trinidad-born and educated Veena Masud is a school principal who wants to see Pakistani women shine in the international sports arena.
Continue reading

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