A Decade of Distinction
Dear fellows, colleagues, well-wishers,
This year is important to me as a personal milestone- a turning point in both my career, my life as well as the fact that I shall also be commemorating a decade of my association with television broadcast this coming 9/11.
I must admit how it has been a tedious but a momentous journey- testing, trying and rewarding as I learned the ropes and gained rich and eventful experience of more than 13000 hours of being in front of the camera, controversies and commotion. Needless to say, this is my distinction over a decade of self-discovery in my quest for seeking the truth.
My story began on a day that shook the world. September 11, 2000. The airplanes that crashed in to the Trade Towers had set about to redefine the world’s geopolitical and socio-religious texture and in so many ways, perhaps the true beginning of private News television industry in Pakistan as I started my show on then ARY – Pakistan’s first private TV channel.
The repercussions for the world, the consequences of that eventful day aside, I was also overwhelmed by the experience, the fact that I was to go on-air and comment, present facts that are unbiased and based of factual but fast changing reality. I still get goose bumps when I remember those long hours and a young beginning wrapped with all the excitement and the freedom with responsibility that came with it. It was a moment of actualization for me, giving me the much needed confidence to reach out to all of you through my shows.
Jets flew off docked aircraft carriers, bombs formed the clouds of death, chaos and decent set the order of despair, hope it seemed had admitted defeat. It was all happening so fast that often I was not talking but speaking to you- I found myself connecting on a human level, an unmistakable feeling of empathy and helplessness, fears of future that formed the dark clouds hovering over our part of the world. I was engaged much passionately, as a cause, a belief with my friends, adversaries, critics and importantly my viewers who allowed me to touch upon these subjects.
The journey to a never-ending future awaited my presence.
I began to bring to you news reports from war fronts and forums alike. I travelled to where the news took me, no matter at what odds. I retraced the footsteps of the human story, misgivings, injustice and oppression. From the war in Afghanistan to the Civil war in Lebanon, from the infamous Referendum to Elections of 2002 and the tragic unfolding in the aftermath of the 2002 Earthquake in Pakistan.
I must admit how Views on News was more than a show for me. It was a personification of my conviction, that it was time that Pakistan’s media liberated the ‘information-control’ and the ‘mind-control’ of ignorance. Time, I felt, had come when the viewers became in control of what they wanted to see and hear.
As I look back gently now, I can not thank ARY Television Network enough for all the opportunities and trust they had put in my abilities; or the lack of it- but there encouragement had certainly propelled, Dr. Shahid Masood in the making.
I was being observed. I was being noticed. I was being watched. Heard. In between criticized too. But unlike many who would seem to fume at a single mention of them in the negative, I maintain that Criticism is very important to me as I feel that it is always true for anything that attempts to redefines the norms and cause a stir in status quo of perceptions.
I may have not realized what I was to champion in times to come back then, but it sure was a slow but definite sinking reality that my viewers had come to expect me to redefine the reality for them, I was to shake the myths and mysteries that had so conveniently enshrouded our past and our present.
All hindrances, set backs and shocks aside, I was resolved in wake of challenges despite the fatigue and exhaustion in my Pursuit to seek knowledge for myself first and then for my viewers. It is nothing less than a sacred trust. Something that I have cherished to this day and shall always, for times to come.
With an urge to experience a new idea, a new setting and to allow more people come in the industry, rather than to have blocked them from a opportunity by being at ARY, I parted ways amicably with my media alma mater, my first home to find myself at Pakistan’s number 1 network, ‘Geo’.
Change is never easy, change is both a challenge and a chance. I took both in the same stride as I embraced my leap of faith and as many of you would recall, I was to be on-air with a more ‘opinionated’ Dr. Shahid Masood. It was the world according to me, called, ‘Meray Mutabiq’, I can safely say that it was my catharsis televised- It was a true depiction of the world around us as people, as a country. I took great pains just as much as the management did as well in leaving no stone unturned to make it a huge success.
But success in fluidity can cause commotion. Meray Mutabiq was to soon set history in another dimension. Closed done by a ban for three long months, the show was unceremoniously pulled off-air! But I have no regrets, because I know that when one forebears the standard, the march is always uphill.
I had witnessed also the closure of Geo, the lawyers movement, the days of batons and long march all embroiled with political temperatures had consumed me to be involved to a level of dedication to the cause. The barricades mimicking sign board saying ‘Constitution Avenue’. Time is a great historian, and I shall let it record history, but for now, it brings me to put on record that I am thankful to Geo Television Network to have had stood beside my program in recognition of my contribution as a anchor. Thank you Geo for your trust, it has and will always mean a lot to me.
I remember reading some where, that ‘life is what happens to us while we are busy making other plans’. My life too, was to experience a great honor in this prolific media industry- when for the first time in the history of State run, Pakistan Television, I was to be given the responsibility and charge to galvanize the organization’s spirit as both its M.D and Chairman.
On one hand, the accolade of holding the dual titles at PTV along with doing a TV show as well, were a humbling experience, since I were to be the first since 1960’s, and yet on the other hand were my audience, my viewers who were choking my inbox with their emails. They were resentful of this move. They wanted Dr. Shahid Masood to let go of the honor, the ‘firsts’ that he was making. They wanted him to be on the other side of the media divide. This experience made me let go of all the titles, honors and state recognition. And I do not regret any of it, as I was to choose to stand side by side with my real strength, my audience.
It is in this state of mind that I to be mindful of people’s expectation poising a question in my mind. Truth beckons courage, and hence, in the end, I find no reason is stronger than belief- unless belief itself is the reason.
Soon after relinquishing my responsibilities from PTV, I was to serve as the adviser to the Prime Minister. Something that I thought I will not be good at, and my doubts proved just about right. Pakistan’s flag full-mast on my car was a great honor and yet, the voices of people called me back, to be ad mist them. In hope, in faith and in belief that there shall be a better tomorrow.
I stepped out of that car, and drove down the streets of Islamabad in a car not much different to yours.
The car I drove that day, got parked again at the Geo News Studios.
‘Meray Mutabiq’ was to begin again. Much to my delight, I was again amongst family. But times had not changed. If at all, it went more hostile towards our newly earned freedom of speech- or the expectation of 180 million people seeking both, the truth and the answers.
My show was to be shut on instructions of the powers to be.
Meray Mutabiq, its team and I, we were to experience the next 12 weeks like wandering gypsies. A show here, another there, motivated but tired. Courageous but in face of great opposition, threats looming large… friendly advises perverting the will… nevertheless the show continued for weeks like this.
With all resources marginalized, stepped up pressures and antics, never was there a moment of lull, despair or destitute. Each program seemed like a edifice of resolve.
Each episode a reason to believe- to be, to do more and not look back.
Your emails, your messages, your texts allowed me to brave the consequences against all odds. I may have made many adversaries, I admit. But in this profession, the choices one makes are founded on principles and not rumor mills. I have shied from public statements, I have by nature, withstood the propaganda, the laments and at a odd few times slurs hurled at me by my opponents.
Allow me to say, ‘opponents in perception’, as unfortunately, those who have, have done so without meeting me or knowing me. But, I smile at each of their assumptions, and feel there is never a need for a rebuttal! I find it not consummate to my vision or stature. I am sure, you’d all agree that restraint is the strength of a humble man.
In between these times, I felt obligated on a personal level and voluntarily opt out of Geo again in my sincere attempt to allow them the space to continue their broadcast without let or hinder.
Soon enough, I was the President of ARY Television Network and back on the screen with the new version of Views on News. I am certain, some of you have been privy to, or receiving a lot of emails and needless speculations, ranging from controversies on hiring, firings and resignations all the way to some using their time and energy to discuss me.
I am pleased to announce that I will be a colleague and a co-worker with some of you very soon in my capacity of ‘CEO and President’ for an upcoming Media Group.
This Group, is a Media House that will bring out quality TV channels, Dailies and Periodicals besides establishing of Media University of international standard. But honestly none of this would really have been possible, if there was not a Group behind my dream.
In the forefront of this initiative is the man leading this Global consortium, whom I must thank for his having agreed to venture in this media enterprise. Mr. Sadruddin Hashwani a name you are all familiar with. Someone we have all come to respect as a man whose patriotism makes us proud, whose resolve makes us believe more in our own selves. A role model to have risen above the rest as a self made man who now wishes to set a precedence in media, reinventing, reinvigorating and reviving our industry bogged down by lethargy.
Mr. Hashwani leads this consortium of giants from the Middle East and Europe. A unique and impressive list of notable personalities and business conglomerates who have both put their resources and trust behind Mr. Hashwani and of course through him- in me, and through me- in and on all the working media professionals of Pakistan.
I must admit that this introduction to Mr. Hashwani or the international consortium is no justice. And I fail in introducing them to the hilt that they deserve an introduction, but I do intend on introducing them in more details that I shall share with all of you soon.
It is history in the making, it is a hard task. And I know. But let me admit, let me confess….here perhaps, I am in need for your support and well-wishes, more than any other event in my 10 years of being associated with the media industry.
I am embarking upon a journey to redefine Media History in Pakistan as we know it. Never before, had a working professional in Media could dream of being a stake holder in equity in a big Media Group before, I am to set the precedence.
This precedence is not to boast the achievement, but share that dreams can be dreamt and turned true. This is not my achievement, but a victory to all of you, my fellow colleagues, anchors, that intent and perseverance against animosity can find its own ways to collective benefit of the media industry.
I thank you once again, for all your support, your prayers and well wishes. I know I could not have been able to do any of this without the blessings of Allah, and all the people who have helped me in my eventful journey including Mir Shakilur Rahman, Mir Ibrahim Rahman and Salman Iqbal.
I look forward to your continued feedback and suggestions.
Dr. Shahid Masood
President & CEO
Pearl Communications (PVT) Ltd
Shalimar 5 Agha Khan Road Islamabad