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.

Pakistan journalists in London October 9-17

Pakistan journalists tour of London October 9-17

Qatrina Hosain, Director, Current Affairs, Express News
Rahimullah Yusufzai, Executive Editor, Peshawar, The News
Beena Sarwar, Editor, Special Projects, Jang Group (Aman ki Asha)
Mustafa Qadri, Journalist, The Guardian, Radio Australia, The Diplomat

Oct 11: Chatham House, 6-7 pm (NOTE: members only event)
Oct 13: SOAS, 6-8 pm (no registration required)
Oct 15:  The Guardian, 7 pm
Oct 16: British Pakistan Foundation launch (TBC).

For inquiries, contact Mustafa Quadri <syed_mustafa_qadri@yahoo.com.au>. Details:

Continue reading

Stranded in Doha

Article published in The News on Sunday, Apr 25, 2010

Beena Sarwar

Who would ever have thought that a volcano with an unpronounceable name, in Iceland of all places, would suddenly erupt and disrupt the world’s air traffic for days and days – nearly a week as I write this.

Not in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would be among thousands if not millions of ‘volcanic ash zadgaan’ (affectees) stranded in various places around the world. I’ve had tidal wave nightmares (trapped between an approaching wall of water and a cliff – Paradise Point off the Karachi shore, to be precise) but a volcano thousands of miles away? Not on my horizon until now.

The bad news began trickling in on Thursday night as I packed for a four-day trip to Berlin to participate in a `Trialogue’ between Pakistani, Indian and Afghan delegates, organised by the German organisation Fredrich Ebert Stiftung (FES). My mother, in the UK for a TESOL (teachers of English to speakers of other languages) conference, was due back Friday afternoon. We were to cross each other in the skies. Her flight was of course cancelled. Continue reading

India trip, the ‘attack’ and some articles

Allahabad Chapter of PIPFPD: Comrade Kameshwar Prashad Agarwal

No disruptions at the Allahabad Chapter of PIPFPD, attended, among others, by Comrade Kameshwar Prashad Agarwal

Hello everyone, have been traveling with limited access to internet, hence the silence.

I was among the journalists at a panel discussion ‘Does media jingoism fan tensions between India and Pakistan?’ organised by Forum of Media Professionals at the India International Centre in New Delhi on April 15. The event got a lot of play because of misreporting.

The Indian media hyped up a minor disruption, reporting that the Pakistani journalists in the panel were ‘attacked’ or ‘roughed up’. The Pakistani media picked up on the photos and subsequently there were condemnations and even demonstrations in Pakistan about the ‘attack’.

To set the record straight, no one was roughed up or attacked. One man did disrupt the meeting – but very briefly, from the back of the auditorium. The organisers had turned away 3-4 men who refused to sign the register – he must have sneaked in. The discussion was half over when he stood up and started shouting anti-Pakistan, pro-war slogans (someone sitting near him said he’d just come in). The organisers pushed him out. TV cameramen and photographers followed.

Most papers and channels used photos and footage of the scuffle outside, rather than focusing on the discussion inside, which continued, despite the noise we could hear outside for a couple of minutes. The interruption lasted for maybe a minute or so. The discussion started at 10 am and continued till 1.30 pm. It turned out that he was from the Sri Ram Sene, the same group that tried to prevent Valentines Day celebrations in India, to whom thousands of people sent ‘pink chaddis’ in response.

The incident demonstrated what we had been talking about, that TV, being a visual medium, focuses on images rather than words. Hence their running after the scuffle rather than focusing on the discussion. This is the nature of the beast. Those keen to tame it might try organizing mass emails, letters and phone calls to demand meaningful change.

Here is Rahimullah Yusufzai’s article on the incident – `The good, the bad and the ugly’, The News, Apr 21, 2009 <http://tinyurl.com/dxtuo3>

Our visit also involved several other interactions with the media. Rahimullah Yusufzai, the veteran reporter from Peshawar was the most sought after for his views on Talibanisation, living as he does in the heart of the storm. Here is the link to a full page ‘idea exchange’ published April 19, a forum that The Indian Express regularly holds: “I don’t think we have reached a stage when the Taliban will take over Pakistan” – <http://tinyurl.com/dzeyc9>

I showed some of my documentaries at a meeting of the Allahabad chapter of the Pakistan-India Peoples Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) and at the Delhi Press Club, organised by Youth4Peace. Here are links to a couple of reports on the Press Club screening:

‘In Pakistan, change has to come from within, says journalist’ -Indian Express, Apr 20, 2009 – <http://tinyurl.com/covts7>

`Pak journalist’s short take on women’s rights’, Mail Today, Apr 20, 2009 – <http://tinyurl.com/cmb7ey>

More later

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