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Urdu is our national language and is the language of the majority of our religious books. Our ulemas and religious leaders are very articulate expressing themselves in Urdu. It is also called the ‘Army camp’s language’ and fits our national psyche of a warrior race.
Urdu columns provide the energy that runs the engine of Urdu journalism in Pakistan. Urdu columns are read by millions as Urdu newspapers are shared in homes, tea stalls, hotels, hair salons, offices, buses, trains, airplanes, while the English columns are buried in just a few thousand readers. Becoming a successful Urdu columnist is the stepping stone to becoming a host of popular news channel. Here are the top 10 golden rules for a successful career in Urdu journalism.
1. Throw out all English literature, preferably sell it to raddiwalah and buy a few red hardbound books with golden printing. Buy a few books of Urdu poets, preferably Allama Iqbal. The rest are easily available on footpaths on Sundays. These books will come in handy when you are starting a column.
Keep a copy of firozullughat, a book with lot of fancy words and a cassette of a mullah from the local mosque. Use flowery and emotional language like dialogues in our television plays and films.
2. Use prophetic language in your column much like, O People, Why don’t you ponder on open signs! Don’t you seeth the signs of the arrival of a messiah! The sign art in front of thee! Write about the politician you are supporting for the next elections. A divine halo will shine throughout the column if you quote from the early Islamic period from the red hardbound books. Make sure to repeat that story or quote at the end of a column. For reference read the columns of Kaptan ur Rashid.
3. Create a character of a simpleton or village idiot and name him Jhera, Bala or Natho etc. and then use him to mouth your recipes to get Pakistan out of the present crisis without worrying about practical implementations, or fact and figures for your recipes. This character is very useful for your suggestions like, what use is the $16 billion foreign reserves if these reserves are not distributed among people of Pakistan.
4. Poetry is like a processor that runs the computer. Poetry can be used to reverse all arguments in your favour. Use poetry as a building block and proof of your argument e.g. if you want to rubbish democracy, you don’t need to go into the details of the social contract, Rousseau, John Locke and others to establish your argument. All you have to do is quote a couplet from Iqbal, ‘juda ho din siyasat se, tau reh jati hai changezy’. Also poetry is useful when you can’t give facts and figures e.g writing about a budget; just give a couplet, like, ‘lafzoon ka ghorakh dhanda’. Don’t tax yourself about the root causes of division in Pakistan; just a couplet will establish your argument,
Yun tou Syed bhi ho, Mirza bhi ho, Afghan bhi ho Tum sabhi kuch ho batao tou Musalmaan bhi hoAlways remember this thumb rule, if you don’t have any knowledge on a particular subject, throw in some couplets.
5. Often mention in your columns how you have travelled around the world and met a lot of successful Pakistanis living abroad. Expat nouveau-riche Pakistanis want to publicise their new found status in columns that are read by their relatives in Pakistan. They sponsor columnists’ visits abroad. Never mention your host directly. Make a story about how you were marooned in an unfamiliar country which is when the kindhearted, rich expat Pakistan came to your rescue and offered his hospitality. Only mention the names of his family if they hosted you and paid for airfare. Don’t write this column the moment you land in Pakistan, make them wait for two weeks before you return the favour.
6. When you meet a politician don’t write about it. Only write about it casually so that people get the impression that you are always sought after by the bigwig politicians who are dying to seek your advice on political affairs. Tell the tales of how these politicians want to listen to your gems of wisdom to solve the problems of this society.
7. Always start your column by condemning Western media that is being controlled by the Jews for spreading lies against Muslims. Also mention the conspiracies being hatched by think tanks in Western capitals. But when you need a reference, quote it from Western books, newspapers and think tank researches like the New Stanford/NYU studies as that would give your opinion credibility.
8. Paint yourself as a true patriot on a holy mission to reform the society. Attack only politicians as they will not counter attack you because they are eager to show themselves as tolerant and democratic. Stay safe and don’t mess with powerful state/non state actors.
9. Respect public opinion and discard informed opinion. If the public believes that Americans are the only source of problems in Pakistan or that the Taliban brought peace to Afghanistan or that Muslims are destined to eventually conquer all world or that the Pakistani Taliban are Indian and American agents, always stay on the course of popular narrative and don’t try to educate people.
‘Learn from people’s wisdom’, should be your motto. If you support Pervez Cowboy over Agha Waqar’s water car, you should look for another profession.
10. The cornerstone of your every article should be the ‘honour’ of the nation, family and ummah. For further help, study Zaid Hamid, Imran Khan, Qazi Hussain Ahmad. The psychological cure of honour is the Achilles heel of the Pakistani nation. Use words like qaumi ghairat, puppet Muslim rulers, great resources of the nation and true leadership.
The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.