KARACHI: A book titled Speak Up by seasoned journalist Mohiuddin Zia Siddiqi was launched at the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Tuesday evening.

Speaking on the occasion, Prof Sikander Mehdi said writing of a good book in Pakistan is a miracle. A bigger miracle is to publish it. While watching the author going through both the stages, he (Mehdi) thought to himself, “When will our society become an author-friendly one.”

He asked, “Why don’t journals get published in Pakistan?”

He acknowledged that a lot of hard work had gone into the publishing of Speak Up.

Prof Mehdi felt that the publication was important but it was the first volume [of a series]. This he realised noticing its title because there’s no ‘speak up’ aspect in the book.

“It has proverbs, idioms, quotations, social media lingo, etc, which will actually help the writers. But how to speak up in Pakistan? You have to speak up. How should the book reach the needy people? How should it reach educational institutions? A book should walk to the people who need it most.”

In that context, he suggested that book launches should take place at universities in order to transfer ideas and knowledge to the younger lot.

Senior journalist Mazhar Abbas said the book is the need of the hour. We often discuss the transformation from print to electronic to digital media, but not many people have the ‘knowhow’ for it. These days there’s a constant flow of information, and it is under these circumstances that it becomes important to know how to use social media. “It’s a global question,” he remarked, arguing that social media was unedited media.

Educationist Zuleikha Soorma said it’s a timely book because although we use social media, we don’t know its norms and abbreviations.

The event was moderated by Prof Dr Tauseef Ahmed Khan and presided over by senior journalist Agha Masood.

Mr Masood thanked the author for coming out with the book. He told the audience that Mr Siddiqi studied science as a young student but his life took a different route when he was made editor of a magazine. The late Safdar Birlas, who worked with Dawn for many years, praised his journalistic skills after which Mr Siddiqi decided that he’d leave the world of science and go for arts. He also talked about the author’s sound editing skills that he witnessed while both worked for a weekly magazine.

Praising the contents of the book, Mr Masood said the things one get to see on social media are of strange nature. Even 70 per cent of IT experts don’t know the words and phrases that the author has mentioned in the book. He agreed with Mr Mehdi that a second volume is needed.

Author’s wife Saira Siddiqi and son M Wasiq also spoke.

Published in Dawn, March 16th, 2022

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