Pakistan’s Super Anchors

By Bilal Qureshi

                         با دوستان هایی از این دشمنان ما نیاز ندارد.

The meeting between Pakistan’s ‘super anchors’ and Hillary Clinton was, well, disastrous, not for America or Clinton, but for these talk show hosts.

Hillary was calm, controlled, measured and she answered all sorts of questions thoroughly and intelligently.

And unlike most of the panel, she was gracious, too.

First of all, Clinton should never have met these nut jobs in the first place. And if it was absolutely necessary to have a meeting, than, senior, sober, seasoned and established journalists should have been on the panel, i.e. Najam Sethi, Ijaz Ahmed (Daily Times) Ayesha Alam (Dawn TV) Beena Sarwar, and Ghazi Salahuddin etc for an interview that would have been substantive and mutually beneficial

But, what we witnessed was a text book case of ideologues disguised as journalists trying to defame and attack their subject instead of engaging her in an intellectual exercise, otherwise known as an interview. Too bad for these buffoons, Hillary come out of the interview with her sanity and her reputation intact, and these ‘anchors’ emerged as what we suspected them to be all along – clowns.

Journalism is one of the most sacred and respected profession in the world. But in Pakistan, especially the electronic journalism has sunk to a low never before imagined or witnessed anywhere in the world. What we have in Pakistan is, for the most part, Taliban apologists and Osama admirers working to scare people in submission. That is, people of Pakistan must follow the advice and the argument made by these anchors on TV instead of using their own judgment. These so-called anchors want Islamic power (whatever that means) to come together, ideally in Pakistan (because Pakistan HAS THE BOMB) and lead a jihad in which India, America and Israel are defeated and Muslims run the world with their headquarter in Turkey, just like the good old days! Isn’t that simple?

Of course not being able to ask anything important, significant or even intelligent during an interview is not a crime. And, sadly, people in Pakistan are used to not been able to hear anything positive or constructive when they turn on their television. The men and the women who occupy anchor chairs in Pakistan these days have really lowered the bar on what is acceptable.

Nonetheless, when these anchors preach day after day that they have all the answers and America is the enemy and then, these super anchors are given an opportunity that is the mother of all opportunities – interview America’s Foreign Minister, Hillary Clinton, the public does have the right to expect a superb show, and the country does expect to find answers to the all the problem that these super anchors raise day after day, night after night on their shows. Also important to remember, especially for these anchors is  that failure on this occasion is not even option – these super anchors must step up to the plate. And that is precisely why when Hillary sat in front of Pakistan’s super anchors; everyone in Pakistan expected it to be a showdown that these super anchors have been begging for and preparing for a long time. But as expected, these super anchors tanked and tanked big time.

Wow, talk about humiliation and embarrassment. 

Pakistanis finally got a chance to see that these people know nothing, they are wrong about everything, and all their claims about pretty much anything they discuss can’t be taken seriously.  These people, the super anchors had Clinton, alone, in front of them, cornered and they had the awesome opportunity to openly and publicly confront Clinton (because Zardari and Gillani are not capable of doing it, of course). So, did these super anchors confront Clinton? Of course not. Did these people ask her anything that merits a serious answer? No, not a single word that was worth her time. But forget that, they couldn’t even get her to admit that Drone attacks are wrong or they would be stopped. Clinton did say to these people that if you don’t want our money, i.e. Kerry Lugar, please, by all means, don’t, Pakistan doesn’t have to take the money if it hurts Pakistan’s ego. This as for as I know is called a slap in the face, and it was well deserved by these super anchors.  Also worth mentioning is the much talked about issue of one of the anchors failed attempt to exaggerate the amount of money that a former Soviet State charges the United States. And he didn’t exaggerate this number by 10/20 percent – he went for the kill, and he exaggerated the number from $50 million to like $500 billion or something similar, but this is why it is critical to be accurate. Hillary stopped him, rather amusingly that the money that the United States pays is not $500 billion, but $50 million a year. Aha, this is what you’d call a slap in the face, métaphoriquement parlant!

So, if you look at it, it was not an interview. There were hardly any questions, but long speeches and incorrect analysis by the anchors and Clinton sat there, enjoying herself. It reminded me of a conversation with an Indian businessman I had while flying to DC from Qatar recently. He said, “we don’t have to do anything to hurt or harm Pakistan because Pakistanis are doing a great of job of destroying their own country.” Sadly, after watching the Hillary’s interview with Pakistan’s super anchors, I instantly understood what he meant.

With friends like these anchors, Pakistan doesn’t need enemies.



Filed under journalism, Kerry Lugar Bill, Media, Pakistan, USA

24 responses to “Pakistan’s Super Anchors

  1. YLH

    Well I thought Naveen Naqvi and Nasim Zehra did a decent job… Talat would have been fine had he not been made that ridiculous comment.

    And I am not sure why you would want Ayesha Alam (who is a bimbo par excellence) !!!

  2. Milind Kher

    To grill somebody, you have to have done your homework brilliantly.

    Very clearly, the anchors had not done theirs, else the faux pas of the kind mentioned would not have happened.

  3. I was missing Javed Chauhdry in the lot….
    Qaumon Ki Taarikh…he knows at best

  4. punjabi

    Hillary Clinton stands out amongst American politicians for being unusually and incredibly well versed with every issue of relevance to her, of every nuance of policy and variation of opinion. Her knowledge and depth of understanding, right down to the most arcane minutia of the subject is legendary.

    She has fought extremely tough policy and political battles, with the some of most powerful, and most complex political machines in the world.

    While she doesn’t have the public touch, she is political and intellectual giant.

    If you engage her in reasonable conversation she will talk intelligently and engagingly. But if you’re a television loud mouth who knows little and understands even less, and you go on the air to have a show down with her, and throw at her all the cockamamie horse crap that fills the echo chambers you live in, you won’t make a scratch on her. there isn’t anything you can say that she doesn’t expect, hasn’t disected, isn’t prepared to handle.

    babes in the woods.

  5. Milind Kher

    She is a battle hardened veteran and I think the only person who would have been able to take her on would have been Benazir.

    However, another reason why it is difficult to take her on is the fact that the track record in tackling terrorism is very bad, so when she talks, people have to listen.

  6. I think Obama has done right thing by taking Clinton on, they will make an amazing team. And it builds my respect for the man, that he can swallow his pride like that

  7. Hayyer

    “there isn’t anything you can say that she doesn’t expect, hasn’t disected, isn’t prepared to handle.”

    Especially the stuff generated by the windmills of your mind.

  8. A .Neem

    Well they were quite vociferous to say the very least if not repetitive..Nasim Zehra probably did the best job..Naveen Naqvi did absolutely nothing! She barely asked two questions one piggybacking on Nasim Zehra’s and one vague one about Kashmir…why she was there is a mystery..Sethi would have been a great choice and Ayesha Alam too( she has personality and dynamism)..but woulda, shoulda, coulda…however, let’s not taint the event with too much cynicism and negativity shall we? It happened. It was a groundbreaking event in itself and the lines of communication were at the very least opened…plus it’s fired up so many people that there could very well be a next time that has much more of the quality that all thinking, inquiring Pakistanis are craving..

  9. Kiran

    Dear Sir
    i would like to bring kind attention that in break fast with dawn running by miss naveen naqvi. kindly confine her to wear hi neck because she belong to saadat family . I mean Prophet (PBUH) family(Imam Naqi (AS) Family).
    in media she show her boobs or hint of cleavage to the public .she defaming shia community kindly change her to some other anchor or advice her to wear hi neck

    thanking you

    your faithfully

    (Moderators’ Note – Dear “Kiran” aka “Tania” – isn’t it strange that your real name is “Umar Farooq” and yet you claim to speak for the “Shia” community and Sadat?)

  10. SS

    For once, I liked what Bilal Qureshi had to say. He often comes across pleading the case of those in the seat of power and I tend to skip over to the next piece. The reason for my previously held bias towards B.Q could have been because we tend to read what re-enforces our tightly held opinions and views. But then my liking for his article can also be because of views on our anchormen are similar to mine. Well done BQ.
    Why did you have to expose the true identity of Kiran? Those were the most entertaining lines I have read in your web pages for quite some time.

  11. Majumdar

    Why can’t someone called “Umar Farooq” speak for the Shia community?


  12. Milind Kher

    @Majumdar Saheb

    Umar Ibn Al Khattab, the 2nd Caliph is called Umar Farooq.

    As the Shias reject the first 3 Caliphs, logically a Shia cannot have the name Umar Farooq.

  13. Bloody Civilian


    that would have been an answer had the question been: why can’t a shia be called umar farooq? but that was not the question.

  14. Milind Kher


    Ok, we can get nerdy about this. They both mean more or less the same because the fundamental premise underlying both is that a person called Umar Farooq cannot be a Shia.

    That being said, a non Shia may hypothetically speak for the Shia. However, the chance of somebody doing that while bearing the title of an entity who is repugnant to the Shia is a little slim, is it not?

  15. Bloody Civilian

    that’s just poor logic. the chances might have been slim if any of the entities revered by the shia were repugnant to such a person.

    btw, is the whole entity repugnant or is the rejection limited to the legitimacy of the ascent to the office of caliph?

    and since it is often important to be nerdy, a name, commonly, is just a name.

  16. Milind Kher

    Calling that poor logic is an opinion you are entitled to. Unless, of course, you explain the premise on which you deem the logic to be poor.

    To answer your second question, the entire entity is repugnant.

    Here again, this is just stating a fact. No value judgments.

    Amartya Kumar Sen wrote a brilliant book which reflects what is just happening – the title eludes me 🙂

  17. Bloody Civilian

    the premise: the chances might have been slim if any of the entities revered by the shia were repugnant to such a person (that is someone named umar farooq).

    this is just stating a fact. No value judgments

    and that is all one’s own name is, generally. you made a value judgement by stating that somebody so named would not be inclined to ‘speak for the shia community’.

    it’s ok if the title of sen’s book eludes you. but that is no excuse to try and elude the title 😉

  18. Majumdar

    Thanks for info re: Umar Farooq.

    I have to agree with Civvie mian though. After all Mr. Umar Farooq was given his name, not by himself but by his parents so technically there is no reason why Mr Farooq must be anti-Shia even if his parents were.

    Besides, there is no evidence that Mr UF’s parents are anti-Shia bigots. Umar and Farooq seem to be common enuff names among Muslims so it is possible that Sunni parents who had no intention of being anti-Shia may have named their child Umar Farooq to honour their Caliph.

    Finally, of course there is a possiblity that Mr UF may have like Milind babu reverted to the Shia version of the Islamic faith.


  19. Bloody Civilian


    Finally, of course there is a possiblity that Mr UF may have like Milind babu reverted to the Shia version of the Islamic faith

    and, in case, you will not accept our hypothetical friend as a shia unless he changes his name, following your logic in case of qadianis, you can assume either of the following for the sake of not stalling amritya sen’s thesis:

    i. an atheist or non-muslim umar farooq


    ii. a shia umar farooq who does not agree with your logic

  20. Milind Kher


    Well summed up. Now I will be posting on some other topics. Let us see whtether the response is agreement or an argument.

  21. Bloody Civilian


    you elude argument more easily than you do agreement. 😉

  22. A good read indeed. Folks who do not do their homework… tend to end up with egg dripping off their faces. And that is egg-actly what happened here.

    These folks forgot… that the top diplomat of the world was sitting across the table. One who has also been a formidable lawyer. When she was in India, the media interactions went very well. But then… I cannot and should not compare apples and charcoal. I’m sure you know which is which *wink!*

  23. @ Milind Kher: Hillary is a well known and self confessed Benazir fan.

    This is what she says in her memoir “Living History”: “Bhutto(Benazir) was the only celebrity I had ever stood behind a rope line to see. Chelsea and I were strolling around London during a holiday trip in the summer of 1989. We noticed a large crowd gathered outside the Ritz Hotel, and I asked people what they were waiting for. They said Benazir Bhutto was staying at the hotel and was soon expected to arrive. Chelsea and I waited until the motorcade drove up. We watched Bhutto, swathed in yellow chiffon, emerge from her limousine and glide into the lobby. She seemed graceful, composed and intent.” – Living History (pp.271)

    She mentions other things and also describes Benazir as “a brilliant and striking woman”…

    She referred to these and much more during a toast at the Presidential Palace during her trip to Pak last month. She mentioned her during her ‘Town Hall meetings’ as well as during her interactions with the women members of the press/media and civil society.

    Inspite of all these… the ‘journalists’ failed to make use of this opportunity… and establish a connect. They insisted on harping on ‘honour, ego…’ and god knows what. I was shaking my head in sheer disbelief. These guys have been so very myopic and been a complete spoilsport. What kind of country runs and decides its foreign policy, etc via the media… ?? The media should not overstep its limits.

    This cannot happen in India. Else… the media as a whole will be made to eat the very delicious ‘humble pie’ and several of them at that. You know, a veritable feast of this ‘brand’ of pie… would have been laid out. The ‘all you can eat’ type, that is.

    There can be no excuses for opportunities lost. And who do you think should and got to shoulder the blame for this epic disaster… ???

    btw… Ms Bhutto is the only Pakistani whose waxwork is displayed at Madame Tussauds. Plus she has an orchid named after her. I’m sure most folks in Pak aren’t even aware of these laurels…

    Perhaps they are more comfortable with their leaders getting several pats on their back from foreigners… most notably Americans (and closely followed by the British). Rather than being considered as icons. It is really sad.

  24. Ashfaq Ahmad

    I heard that before interview in July 2010 two female anchors have fought over seat adjacent to Hillary’s seat and they exchanged hard words. Is it true? Somebody knows about the incident took place?