Interview:British-Pakistani Novelist Tariq Mehmood

UK Political Debate: Q & A with Tariq Mehmood

Tariq Mehmood is a broadcaster, writer and filmmaker. His first two novels are both set in Bradford UK. He has published two illustrated books for children.

Tariq co-directed the award winning documentary Injustice. He is the editor of Sangi, the only magazine in his mother tongue, Pothowari in UK. Tariq and Rock musician Aki Nawaz host the Political Show “The Point” in UK on sky satellite 836. Tariq is visiting Pakistan to cover current  political situation.

Tariq Mehmood gave an exclusive Interview to Bradistan

Q: Could you tell us what made you start Political Talk show “THE POINT ”, and what was the inspiration behind it?


Our language is varyingly called Pothowari, Pahari, Mirpuri and Punjabi. It’s a language embroidered with emotions. With around 700,000 speakers, Pothowari is the second biggest language in the UK after English. It is the biggest minority language in the county of Yorkshire. All languages bring something unique to this world. Though I write primarily in English, when I want to have a real good emotional outburst, I just have to do it in my own language, or when I shed tears or laugh – though of course I can do both in English, they just don’t taste the same.

Q: Why a Political Talk Show in English Language for Pakistanis and Kashmiris?


A: Hardly a day goes by here when the media in this country are not engaged in some form of demonisation of Muslims.  As  I answer your questions today (11th March) the front pages and the airways are full of articles about how 15 Muslims in a small town in Luton protested against a regiment of British soldier returning from Basra (and Afghanistan). 15 people holding placards and shouting slogans against the returning soldiers of an army that has been engaged in an illegal occupation of a country thousands of miles away, one that has done this place no harm, does not warrant the tarnishing of Muslims as ‘disloyal’, ‘the enemy within’ ‘if they don’t like it then why don’t they leave’, islamophobia is the new racism in UK.The same old venom in a new bottle.


Q: What do you think sets your shows apart from other TV channels?


A:  We have a clear cut policy on the question of Kashmir, we wanted to have strong opinions on subjects that we feel matter, and wanted to raise questions we believe in, and wanted to air alternative views, without worrying about ‘balance’; we wanted to go beyond just the usual condemning Israeli actions in Middle East; as we believed that the Zionist entity is a racist creation, for us Kashmir is a national struggle not a religious war. Kashmir is a multi-religious and multi-cultural country with valley of Kashmir, Jammu and the Ladakh. Sikhs,Hindu Pandits, Muslims (Shia, Sunni and Sufis) and Buddhists have lived in harmony and peace in Kashmir for centuries. Kashmiris should be free to chose their future, full stop.


Q: Asian TV channels have potential, what do you think they lack in mass appeal?


A: Quality, Editorial and Artistic integrity.



Q: How  CAN Pakistani community benefit from Asian TV channels in UK?


A: Mass media is going through a revolutionary change at the moment. The stranglehold of the big boys, like the BBC is no more. The sources of information and entertainment are varied. It is possible to find something of value on these channel, if at times it irritating in its banality and cheapness.



Q: Do you think Pakistani media tend to remain somewhat self-centred and really don’t go out of their shells? What is the solution?


A:Given the resources and restrictions under which the media in Pakistan works, much of its output is remarkable. The live debate show, the dramas and sometimes the news, are as good as anything anywhere. All media is in a sense self-centred and censored. In the coming years, with the advancement of technology the audio-visual media is going to get more and more accessible for more and more people and the power to control ideas will be much more difficulty – I hope



Q: Who are your top five favourite TV anchors in Pakistan?

A: The ones I can get in UK, Talat Hussain, Bolta Pakistan (Nusrat Javed & Mushtaq Minhas),Kamran Khan(Geo) Saima Mohsin (Dawn News)

Q: What is the future of Asian TV in UK?

A: More and more channels will come into being. Many of these will be web based. Quality production for these will come from India and Pakistan.


Q: Which English channels you regularly follow?

A:  Press TV, Al Jazeera English, BBC, Dawn TV

Q: Is “THE POINT” available in Pakistan?
A: On satellite, Cable and on web at

Q: What is your favourite book and why?

A: Gorky’s Mother. It shows how life doesn’t simply change but has to be made to change, and that the change comes from people at the bottom of the heap, dreaming and desiring a new and more just world.

In Urdu Toba Tek Singh, by Saadat Hasan Manto

Q: What is your novel, While There is Light, about?

A: This novel is about Saleem, a young man sent to England as a child. He resents his mother for sending him to this country, an England which he was led to believe was a land paved with gold. What he finds is the run down ghetto of Bradford; he is subject to racist violence in school and on the streets. He is brutalised by the police and criminalised by the judiciary. He starts organising to defend his community’s basic human rights. Along with another Asian youth, he is arrested and charged with terrorism. It is also about intense love, a love for a mother from who Saleem was snatched away and a dark time in the history of Pakistan with the dictatorship of General Zia and the Americans busy funding right wing Islamic groups.

Q: What does the title mean?

A: It comes from Sufi Poet Mian Mohammad’s poem Saif al Maluk, written at the turn of the last century – the story of a youthful prince who falls in love with a fairy and leaves all his material wealth. The poet was saying: do what you have to do whilst you still have the energy of youth, for when old age comes, you will be fearful of each step.

Q:Any Message you want to give to  our readers ?

A: We can’t give our world to those who would destroy it and as long as you continue to talk, and see and discuss, it can never be fully taken.

As a young boy I was brought over to Bradford aged around 9-10 without my mother or father. I could not understand why I had to leave my mother and motherland.
My grandfather, who brought me here, worked in a mill and I too did stints in the mills and factories of Bradford. Self made and self taught I learnt that the only way of getting anywhere was fighting back. Reading books like Tressel’s The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist, Gorky’s The Mother, and Wright’s Native Son, left in me a desire to tell the tales of our times.

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