The journalist of Islamabad are so engaged that they don’t have spare time to give you detailed interview. I am grateful to Mr. Ishfaque Sajid that he offered time for interview. The bureau chief of channel 5 in Islamabad & the former President of Rawalpindi Islamabad Union of Journalist, Allah has blessed him with so many attributes and great honor, exalted position. In spite of his unlimited and rush of works, he gave me an interview.
But whenever he comes to Karachi he remains engaged in his work so that I can’t take detailed interview. Ultimately I had to fax my question to him; incidentally he had to go to Sri Lanka. So, it came to pass, it so happened that his flight to Colombo from Karachi delayed for one day and he had to stay in Karachi for a day.
That’s all! When I came to know I took it to be a lucky chance and for interview with him I reached to Karachi airport hotel with a tape recorder. I took this interview from there itself with regard to the profession of journalism. Some question had been haunting me for some time. Ultimately I got satisfactory replies for all my questions. I got cleared all my concepts. This interview will proved to be beneficial for those who aspiring to go for journalism. Apart from this to accomplishment of professional status as a journalist in the field of journalism, How far he has to work hard to attain that position? And to fulfill his responsibilities what are the hurdles he has to go through?, and for discrimination and expressions he has come across. All this and in addition to so many other information you will have the occasion to read.
Q: If you had not been a journalist what other profession could you have chosen?
Ans: Had I not been a professional journalist I would have become a lance journalist because for the beginning I was inclined towards literal works.
Q: How much struggle you have to make for this position of a journalist?
Ans: Whatever be the profession to attain the status one has to struggle and hard work. But it so happens sometimes you backed by support. But it is a rare occasion. I had to do a lot of struggle to attain this position. All that I did journalism, I started my journalism from my educational days I represented a weekly ‘Raftar-e-Jahan’ then from my home city I worked in ‘Pakistan’ Lahore. After some time I got as a showbiz reporter in the same news paper. There after I offered chance to work in ‘Daily Azad’ Lahore and ‘Daily Chattan’ papers. My fate took me to Islamabad here I start with ‘khabrain’. When I was newly engaged in Islamabad I couldn’t even afford to have a taxi. I used to go by walk and yet I remained stuck to my job. I had an ambition to have a status in journalism. In spite of all this I was never disappointed however I did regret about to this profession. The reason was that I was in the early days of my marriage and didn’t have so much pay, to carry something for my wife while going home. I did feel sorry on this matter occasionally. In spite of this I was confident that I will someday be successful in this profession. I was appointed on news desk, in spite of this I used to work as a reporter in morning. I get relived by the time of call for Morning Prayer and on reaching home just get a little time to have a short nap, and then go for reporting. Although it was not my job, I was ambitious for reporting and was widely impulsive. Seeing my extra ordinary devotion and work the owners of newspaper became compelled to transfer me from sub editor to reporting department. When I became a reporter, I had to face so many challenges to have a position in the department of reporting. They gave Pakistan M.L (N)( as a beat for reporting. Nawaz Shareef was the President at that time. The journalist of this beat was the helms of affairs. By one I was a new comer. There exists a Mafia in the journalistic profession also. They don’t allow any others to have air of the news. But I did work hard and I dug out such news from me saying, o you man! Provide the news to us also. I pursued after the news that big one started turned to me to acquire news from me. It was not too long know that I got engaged with department of journalism so it so happened that only one news made me to be known in all over Pakistan. These days I was attached with daily ‘Ausaf’ in Islamabad.
It was the time when Musharaf have taken over, on that dispatched a news, this news caught the headlines in block letters that “Musharaf’s first link to Nawaz Shareef’s family”. During the days of Musharaf it was very difficult to pass this type of news because this could have reflected adversely on Musharraf’s interest. I am thankful to Mr. Hanif Sabir who was the editor that time and he proved to be very daring a published this news. In details I also asked that it is time to remove from president ship of his party M.L (N) and now Shahbaz Shareef will take over the president ship of M.L (N). At the time when this news published Nawaz Shareef’s family was in Jeddah. ISPR which is the department of Defense service contradicted this news and said that Musharaf didn’t contact to Nawaz family.
Who have thought very highly of themselves, and who had relied that have high resources they also said that Nawaz family didn’t contact to Musharaf, nor that is the Shahbaz Shareef going to be President of the party. Those entire journalists who belong to my beat they had the notion that it was suicidal for him to do this and now it will terminate my carrier. After reading this news, the editor of daily ‘Express’ Mr. Masood Malik, who was Chief reporter in Nawa-e-Waqt at that time, he has very good relations with Nawaz Shareef family. He summoned me and said that you dispatched very highly sensitive news; if this news bounced it will spoil your career. So, I consoled him saying that nothing will happen wrong. Next day chief editor summon and told me that he was being pressurize by agencies so I consoled him that I also had resource in that meeting from where I got this news. You don’t have to worry about it. Know look at my luck that the very next day Jawed Hashmi who was in jail that time, came to face the Lahore court. There talking to journalist he said that news published in ‘Ausaf’ is true news. This statement of Jawed Hashmi was published in ‘Ausaf’ in 3 columns and ISPR also accepted it. Two senior journalist Majeed Nizami and Zahid Malik , they went to Jeddah to Mian Brothers they also clarified that on Musharaf saying we contact to Nawaz family. When it was proved to be true news from all over, than I got good response from all over. This varies news made me known to all over Pakistan.
Then those entire reporter belong to my beat including the daily Dawn, Jang, Nawa-e-Waqt continued to contact me every day to pick any news from me.In addition to this I, did gave one more news that the decision has been made to remove Mian Azhar and the new President would be Choudary Shujaat, at that time Mian Azhar was President of M.L (Q). This news also published in block letters and also it was I who gave the news in first instance that “Jamali will resign from his post”. After having published this news all those who belong to my beat came to realize that I was a very informative journalist and also that my reports came to be taken as reliable. There after Allah favored me in such a way that I continued to be progressed in journalism.
Q: In what are the groups you are affiliated with and in the past what were the responsibilities you had opportunity to carry out, during this period the experiences and services would you like to brief on it?
Ans: O brother! It’s a very heavy question and in this single question is too big one. PFUJ is the only organization of Pakistan which represents journalists and I am the executive member of “Pakistan federal union of journalist”. The PFUJ have branches in all the major cities of country. In the same way like KUJ, QUJ, RIUJ, AUJ, MUJ, thus, PFUG has branches in all the major cities of Pakistan. I remained president of RIUJ in 2010-09 before this I was twice the general Secretary of RIUJ in 2007-08, I was vice president in 2006, treasurer in 2005, and before that I was joint secretary. I remained in the power politics ever since. One has to make a place for himself. No one comes and invites you to take part in politics, any one come to politics at on his own will. I had to struggle to establish myself in the politics of journalism. I will always remain grateful to those journalist friends who relied and favored me by their valuable votes. I am very thankful to Allah that He gave me the occasion to work for the welfare of journalists. During my career in various departments of RIUJ, in my responsibilities and services, my foremost responsibility was the protection of journalists but in addition to this in the interest of the nation or defense of the country whenever it chance our service we didn’t close our eyes or neglect it.
When Musharaf declared emergency on 3rd, may-2007, the whole country was in state of disappointment. Neither any political party nor any other organization raised voice against Musharaf, at that time I was the General Secretary and Mr. Afzal Butt was the president of RIUJ. We directly challenged Musharaf Govt. It was RIUJ who encamped in front of the Islamabad hotel for protestation. We were facing very pressure from the agencies. But we were not afraid of it and we campaigned for 77 days against Musharaf for the revolution. Very few people know that it was journalists who initiated the movement in favor of Chief Justice. And later, all the people belong to civil society, lawyers, politicians, and the former bureaucrats affiliated with us. During this protestive movement we passed through two Eids celebration that we celebrated on footpath of this camp. Being encouraged by our movement the lawyers decided to launch a movement. Musharaf used to silence those journalists protestors, by giving some temptations to silence them and also administer threats through journalist. I also had an occasion. It was in those days when I was president of RIUJ. It was on the words of Musharaf that broadcasts from GEO News and ARY News was banned. I made a protest on this action. About 1:30 PM in midnight I received an unknown call, saying that, they were my “well wishers, it is possible that protestation you made can create problem for you”. What they meant was to silence me, in polite words, but I didn’t care and next day we made strong protestation. However, I did inform my friends Afzal Butt, Pervaz shouqat and Hamid Meer. What I wanted was if anything happens to me, be known to my friends. In this protestation Hamid Mir talk about receiving a call from Agencies in his speech. Agencies didn’t expect all this from us. Whatever the advantage, I had that I was not troubled thereafter. In those days to carry out the responsibility of the organization was very difficult.
Now I come to the last question regarding the services to RIUJ when I was elected as a President of RIUJ in 2009. I particularly, helped the elderly and physically sick journalist by taking financial help from Govt and also from my acquaintances and particularly those journalists who were overcome by financial difficulties for the marriage of their daughters. I did all this in such a manner as not hurt their self respect. It was during tenure President Ship that the publication of RIUJ magazine was took place but after my departure publication of magazine came to an end. The regret I have is my inability to make a documentary on Mr. Minhaj Barna. Though I tried two or three time but he is being sick and could not give time for it. I had a strong desire that on whose name organization RIUJ that is Barna organization. He was a great person. He did made struggles against Zia-ul-Haq. I will remain disappointed all my life for not being able to make documentation on it. I will now request to present authorities that documentation should take place on Mr. Pervaz, Mr. I.H Rashid, Mr. Abdul Hameed Chapra and other journalist leaders. These are our inheritance. The authorities should reflect on my proposal. But I am disappointed at the fact that the group of selfish has started taking advantages in this profession. Although they have labeled journalist on them but they do serve some others. There preference to them is their self interest. Due to such people the organizations of journalism has suffered and they are made to share ill reputations.
Q: What are the kinds of news on which journalist may have to face threat on their lives?
Ans: This question you have put is a dangerous question yet, I will certainly give an answer to this. So far 66 journalists have been killed while performing their responsibilities while being a journalist one has to face so many challenges during performance of his responsibilities. Particularly in those areas where military are in control. During the time when I was President of RIUJ, so many journalists engaged in tribal areas were compelled to move to Islamabad for the safety of their lives. What they have to say is that if ever we give news against militants they kill us contrarily if it goes in favor of militants we are pressurized from the other side. But, if we favor both the parties, armed forces confront us. We can’t be liberal in discharging or duties.
It was the situation of those journalists engaged in tribal areas, but those engaged in Islamabad were not also secure from violence. There has been two or three serious incidence against journalists. Umar Cheema was kidnapped and tortured. He did issue news with regard to the defense force. But agencies rejected this saying they did not do it. In fact all journalists know from the record that has done it.
Though, I will say that keeping in mind the nation’s interest, the news must be printed but sometimes that kind of news may cause danger for life. The news that does not go against national interest, but sometimes happen to be against the influential figure in government setup may irritate them for adverse reaction for journalists to face. For instance, when Pervaiz Musharaf was the President, the Chief reporter of Nawa-e-Waqt of that time did raise a question as to whatever he did was not against the law. As a reaction to the question he got the service terminated from Nawa e Waqt. But later Mr. Malik became the editor of Express.
Hence, this is journalism, a sacred profession in which so ever may perform his duties may have to face difficulties. But it does not mean that a journalist will get frustrated. It is not all, thank God Allah has bestowed so much courage to these Pakistani journalist that they do not go bow their heads before any government.
Q: During your professional pursuit as a journalist that would be interested to be remembered for ever?
Ans: It is in those days when I was showbiz reporter of the daily ‘Pakistan’, Mr. Pervaz Nadeem Malik who was a new comer and producer in the film industry the man who requested in the studio are used to set news on his phone call. One day he called me on the phone in the office, asking me to pay a visit. Saying I am to introduce you to a new heroin. His office was in Royal Park where I reached. The office was very spacious and there was a bedroom also, he took me to the bedroom where a very beautiful teen age girl was sitting. He came out the room asking me to take her interview and said I would be back in half an hour.
When he came after half an hour I was busy taking interview of that new actress he came and was very annoyed and questioned, did you not taken interview yet? I told him, that it is what am I doing? He said, “Saen Journalist (Get away you holy man)” on his this observation I realized what kind of interview had he want. There after whenever he met me he tauntingly addresses me as Saen Journalist.
I am thankful to my Lord that he protected me from vicious habits infect he wanted to gratify me but he failed to understand me. I want to reveal one smaller instance. In the year 2002 I came to be a reporter, a highly reputed politician offered me 5000/- Rs per month. It was his habit that to have an understanding with some of the journalists for coverage of his personal news and then regarded them every month in those days salary was 10,500/- and it was very reasonable pay. But I refused and told the one who offered, that this present is not necessary. Whatever news may appear about him will certainly be published and nothing will be insincere.
Whatever could have expected was expression of displeasure from him, but as against his dealing with me proved to be better than before. And when I became president of RIUJ whenever for any rightful works for journalists I had to approach him. Then he used to take action a/c to priorities. It happen so often that whenever any financial assistance was required for marriage of daughter of any journalist or for illness, on my words he would help them. Now today we maintain a very good relation. I also pay high respect to him he also recuperates the same way. What I mean by saying this is the fact that if you are honest in your career in the profession of journalism you are honored and opens greatest opportunities for advancements.
Q: Can you tell any memorable news or report on which any politician have shown a stern reaction?
Ans: Yes, there was a one news it was related to the 2001 election when the senator Zafar Ali Shah was contesting election from two units I flashed this news that from the Rawalpindi unit the ticket with drawn from him, on this news he reacted very severely, then he came to my newspaper office our chief editor was a non-professional man, he called and in front of me he questioned me the source of this news but I sternly refused to disclose the source. It is my habit that when anyone gives me news I counter check it and under no circumstances I do expose that source. On publication of this news he made a lot of clamour and refuting this news. But my news proved it when he contested the election from Islamabad. And know I maintain a very good relation with him also.
Q: Suppose if a student desires to come in the journalism what is all that he has to do?
Ans: The journalism is a sacred profession. In the early day those who got affiliated with journalism they didn’t hold any degree. For then to establish themselves they had to work hard. But now situation is absolutely different. The students who may like to adopt for journalistic profession they have a lot of opportunities to learn.
A true journalist makes a critical study on the environments. Journalist is like a sensational organ like eye, ear and brain of a society. Whatever he observes he should not be dishonest to his observations. If the journalists stick these qualities their success can be asserted. Insha’Allah.
There are many who being impressed of the show and shine of the profession prefer to join this. They see that a journalist has a privilege meet a P.M, ministers. These people take interview of those who come from abroad. Only one single phone call is sufficient to accomplish all his works. But when he himself happens to be in the profession of journalism, he realizes how difficult is it in discharging his professional duties and how much hard works he has to put.
These days it is an impression that by being M.A in journalism he takes it to be his right to become a journalist. Infect it is not so because great many have attained positions in spite of having no degrees. It does not mean that you don’t go for a higher education.
What mean is that to become a journalist in addition of having degree there ought to have many other qualities? A journalist who provides the information is a trust from the people. And it should never be twisted and adulated news nor that the news should distort and it should not be adulated with his personal news. In addition to whenever you will join this profession you will learn it y yourself. Even if you don’t learn people will teach you.
Q: Do you think that new comers are coming on their merits or by virtue of recommendations and favoritisms?
Ans: It is in both the ways. One is the merit and other is personal relation or recommendations. It is a bad luck for us that Pakistan’s social environment has fallen to that state, that a very few are fortunate to compete on merits without having the backing of personal relations and recommendations. However, if one comes by worthy of merits he gains the opportunity to progress as, against this, if one gets admission by personal favors he has to struggle hard to get a position in journalism. If you attain the position by your hard work then its fine otherwise you can’t get along for long time. This is such a profession that to enter in this, it is possible that you may have to favor by recommendations but it is also necessary to be talented. I know so many of those who came through recommendations but at the sometime the all were talented.
Q: What is it so that new comers in journalism have to work without any remuneration to achieve high status in this profession?
Ans: In Pakistan journalism is the only profession where people do honorary works also. Although efforts they make in this profession, if given to any other profession that could have proved more profitable for them. The trend for giving honorarium service has resulted to invite corruption in the profession. Have a thought that if a person who regularly attends to his job honorary throughout the month and go home bare handed, how would he be provisioning in his family? The owners of newspaper also know that in what manners they are subsisting therefore the fact is that the clap is wit both the hands. It is a serious tragedy in Pakistan and for this an effective action will have to be taken. So, that it can protect the interest of journalism.
Q: In any national paper what post is considered to be attracted?
Ans: In any national paper most attractive beauty I as a reporter. As a reporter during the performance of his duties his public relation keeps on shining. If it is a major newspaper, the subeditor will equality enjoys the post, provided he is a hard worker. But he may not have such a opportunity to gain public relations as much as a reporter can have. The majority of those who are coming to the profession of journalism will aspire to have a job as a reporter.
Q: Can there be any negative impact on the profession of journalism as a result of the technologies and internet?
Ans: Though the modern technology has caused the reduction in circulation but the print media or status of newspaper has remained. You can’t neglect the importance of newspaper. My opinion is that whatever could have affected has been proved, and in future not a significant negative impact is expected.
Q: In your opinion how far the politicians are sincere to Pakistan?
Ans: Presently, there is no such a politician who is sincere to Pakistan and affected citizen. All politicians are the true faces of the same coin.
I can’t find a single politician who is not involved in corruption. Be it a corruption of a single rupee or a crore rupee it will remained to be stamped as corruption.
Q: Your poetry book “Soch k Raygzar” is in the completion, how does your interest developed towards poetry?
Ans: Its answer always the same that I had had always interest in poetry. (Laugh)… and my answer also resembles with it. When I was in primary, I take parts in speech competitions. Due to learning speeches I learnt many of couplets by Allama Iqbal. By the time when I got the meaning of that, so interest increased for poetry. When I was in metric I read Galib’s poetry but it was so difficult. I read it again and again, then I was able to understand it little but still I can’t completely recover his senses.
By reading poetry of Sahir Ludhianvi and Saghar Siddiqui, curiosity of poetry developed. Then I properly start poetic composition. But since I have shifted to Islamabad, have stopped concentrated towards journalism.
This upcoming book of poetry, had written in my good times. Now I don’t have much time, I have collected all of my poetry hardly by compelling of my family and friends. It was a difficult task to compile it.
Anyhow its composition has been completed. Title has finalized and soon it will be printed in form of a book. (Inshallah)
Q: would you like to invite your children in field of journalism?
Ans: (Laugh)….. Befittingly I will say ‘No’ because it is the desire of my children that what profession they have to choose for their life. Ultimately, when I started with journalism, I thought that I will take my children towards journalism. But today situation is different now I will ask some thing different to them instead of journalism.
Q: what makes you very happy and what are the things which make you angry?
Ans: as a journalist, one feels happiness when his news displays on its true place in a correct manner. In newspaper news at its real place makes you happy that I get reward of my labor and it didn’t have wasted. Off course a news is yours product and if it has a value in market, and you gets a good response then surely you will be happy and one feels grief when he has given a Exclusive news and subeditor shifts it in a single column or when a news editor kills any important news.
Website of Mr. Ishfaque Sajid: www.paknewspoint.com