Saturday Jul 15, 2017
Thirty-five years ago, I was still a student at the Government College, Lahore, when I joined the Jang Group as a reporter. It was an unexpected move. I hadn’t given the career much thought. And yet, here I was darting between daily meetings at the Daily Jang’s office and my classes.
Later, in 2002, I moved from print to electronic journalism after the launch of Geo Television.
Reporting for TV has raised my profile immensely. I have been repeatedly told that I have a unique way of going about my stories. Maybe I do, but that is because I do not consider any story too small or frivolous to pursue.
I feel that my work is only done when appropriate action is taken against an issue I have raised. To give you an example, a few years ago I filed a piece about educational boards refusing to let orphans from the SOS Village take their exams. Officials turned away the young boys and girls due to their inability to present a birth certificate. A day after the news package was aired, the provincial government directed authorities to prepare birth certificates for the children with assumed names of the parents. That year, for the first time, they were allowed to appear for their matriculation exams.
I am told, repeatedly, that I pick stories that are non-serious. That is not true. And anyone who has been following my career would tell you so. Recently, I reported on the use of fake license plates by senior officers of the Punjab Police. It was a controversial topic. I had prepared myself for some backlash. But fortunately, the officers named soon had the number plates replaced.
As far as bringing humour to my news reporting is concerned, it isn’t unintentional. There are certain issues, mostly social issues, which will not be paid any attention to otherwise. So, I try to do things differently. I hope to keep you, the viewers, as engaged as possible. I once got onto the back of a horse and rode through the streets to highlight the severe shortage of petrol in Lahore. At another time, as I was delivering my piece-to-camera a large fish that I was holding in my hand slipped out and sent me chasing after it. The people around me laughed uncontrollably. I could have redone the PTC. But I didn’t. Instead, I had the editor replay the blooper on a loop, against music.
I have even interviewed a Buffalo, using a pedestrian bridge to cross a road. The package became instantly viral on the Internet. I couldn’t think of a better way to talk about the lack of pedestrian crossings in Lahore, which forces people to dangerously run across the roads during heavy traffic.
I have been a journalist since 1986 and I have no regrets. During this time, I have reported on terror attacks, judicial proceedings, political happenings, transgender rights and even the monsoon rains. I get a lot of feedback from people; some of which is good, some not so much.
Either way, there is nothing I would rather do than report the way I do.