Interview with Faisal Qureshi
Faisal Qureshi (born 16 August 1964 in Karachi) is a Pakistan entrepreneur, electrical engineer, and a founder chair person of a non-profit organization Loose Ends Pakistan, anchor person of several TV talk shows, currently including Bang e Dara on News One, Loose Ends on Business Plus and Ankahi on Samaa TV, and formerly Breakfast at Dawn on Dawn News, and founder chairperson of the high IQ society Mensa Pakistan, along with being the ex-Chairman of P@SHA – the Pakistan Software Houses Association.
Below is a telephonic interview with him.
Alrasub: Tell us about your early life and schooling.
Faisal: My basic schooling was in Pakistan and did my bachelors from USA in class of 1985 and returned back to Pakistan. I’m Electrical Engineer by Qualification. Got my Bachelors’ degree then enjoyed fun of software. Got into the software business which is my prime line of work now. I came in media by accident and made it part time career. I am still in software business but media is my part time activity.
Alrasub:You are an electrical engineer, how and when you find out that you can become an anchor and a media person.
Faisal: nyone can become a media person. Nothing is difficult to do. Somebody asked me to do a show I said yes and then became a success and then one thing after another. Anyone can do it.
Alrasub: Do You think or believe that Pakistan media is free and mature.
Faisal: Media is free but not mature. Media is reflection of society. Our society is not mature so does media. We are careless with what we say, we are careless about time so is the media careless. Freedom is one thing but knowing what to do is another thing. We are free but we don’t know what we do and what we say.
Alrasub: There is a common perception or you can say a kind of conspiracy theory that USA is investing in Pakistan media on different TV channels to promote their agenda whatever they want. Is that true?
Faisal: I am no one to be able to say which is true or false. Because I have never seen somebody paying somebody to do this n that. It could be possible off course but I don’t know whether It’s true or false.
Alrasub: Don’t you feel there is a kind of monopoly of anchors on TV channels, especially when it comes to Talk shows on private channels, People only recognize anchors but not channels.
Faisal: Well anywhere in the world whether they are following channel policy or not. I think no anchor has capability to not to follow the channel policy. Anywhere in the world in any state it is the anchor person who gets known by public not the channel. Every popular anchor in the will remain that popular anchor wherever he do show. One thing that is important is that whether they are confined to channel policy or not is important. For that you have to be big enough to go beyond channel policy.
Alrasub: People say in Pakistan like other institution, Media is also very corrupt. How do you see it.
Faisal: It is the same level of corruption that you can find in any citizen and media is not made up of foreigners or angels or people from mars. It’s the same level of corruption in media that you can see in corporations, institutions and all other organizations and government and bureaucracy and off course media. If people assume that Media is angel like thing it is ridiculous
Alrasub: In your personal opinion, don’t you think media can play a role to educate people for good and correct evils in society?
Faisal: Media is probably the largest engine which can play role in changing mindset of our society for good and bad. I don’t say media playes a role instead I say media play the largest role and have the largest capability of engineering our society’s mind. But media call itself a watchdog of corruption, which I do not agree. Media is not a watchdog. They try to glamorize themselves. They try to get more power. That’s not true.
Alrasub: Media has the power and capability to change people’s mind. What do think to what level Pakistani media is using power to create positivity in Pakistani nation.
Faisal: Media has power, capability and responsibility. Unfortunately not Pakistan media is doing anything instead media is cultivating negativity.
Alrasub: Another question, TV channels and especially anchors are divided when it comes to political parties and political personalities. What’s your opinion about it?
Faisal: I don’t think there is possibility of checking any organization or any institution. You cannot really check any media channel.
Any real check you can have on media or journalist in any country or any society is society itself. You cannot have laws telling the journalist what to say. They must have freedom of speech and writing. You cannot tell them what to say.
Society can control what media says. It is in society’s hand to control what media is saying. If society accepts all that then that is a check itself. But if that is not accepted that’s the check.
Alrasub: But you can see media had the influence to capture people’s mind then how can society or people influence media to be positive
Faisal: It’s not about positivity. It’s about acceptability of what is shown. Can any channel in Pakistan show x-rated movie? Why not? Because it cannot be accepted by our society so the society is deciding what they want to see and what media cannot show. If society conveniently accepts the negativity, it is society’s fault and not the media. Media shows what people want to see. Society is in full control. If media went completely out of control and society has no control over media then media can very easily be showing what they wanted to show even pornography but they cannot show that just because of society’s unacceptability. Society is in charge. Society controls what media shows so don’t blame media. Media is doing what they are doing. I am not saying they are doing right but they might be doing wrong but society is at larger fault. Society is the biggest check and control. You cannot expect laws or government to control what people want to see and what they don’t want to see. It’s the society who determines what they want what they don’t want.
Alrasub: Is there any code of conduct existing in Pakistan Media?
Faisal: Is there any code of conduct in Pakistani people? People try to blame media. Media is just a business. Media will show what people want to see. Society anywhere in the world decides what they want to see. They choose advertisers, what to buy, what to sell, what is good, what is bad. It’s the society which controls.
Alrasub: Pakistani media is very vibrant and it really affects the way people think now a day’s specially when it comes to politics, but there is a thinking that Media overall failed to start a kind of serious intellectual debate about religious differences, how you will defend this argument .
Faisal: It’s society’s fault once again.
Any anchor on any channel won’t be intellectually debate about religion because people don’t want to see it. And who really dare to show will be beaten away or forced to quietly walk away or even killed. Its society’s decision about to do progress or not.
It’s the society again who decides they want to learn or not, they want to grow or not unless you are a free country. If you are a slave country then master decides where you go but if you are free country you decide by yourself where to go.
Alrasub: Now a days we can watch ads full of Indian Actors, and actresses on each channel even state TV PTV. Is that fair, or this is a kind of commercialism which is affecting in a way that people are slowly forgetting the national and cultural identity or its Indian cultural influence.
Faisal: didn’t see anyone asking this question in Dubai or Singapore or Bahrain or Hong Kong. Why is Pakistan so obsessed about India and Indian content? Many countries in the world show other country’s content. Indians Show American content, America show British content. Any good content is just content.
Alrasub: So you don’t have any problem Pakistani channels showing Indian actors and actresses in ads.
Faisal: Its Again the same obsession for India. Would you ask me same question if Angelina Julie is in those ads. If you are okay with Angelina Julie or Nicole Kidman then why not okay with Madhuri Dixit. How and why is she different? Grow up and get out of that way. It’s been a long time and two generations in between Please stop promoting the hatred.
Pakistani people had listened Lata, Mukash and Rafeeh all their life. They have watched Indian movies all their life but they don’t want to see them on TV. Pakistanis need to grow up.
Alrasub: In these days we are seeing that Anchors are not only anchors they are doing different shows and they are writing articles and many others things they are doing. Is this not unfair that one can be a writer or an anchor.
Faisal: This question is really ridiculous. If you are a house wife, you cook food, take care of children and can have job as well. If you do you are a shop keeper. If you do two jobs in a day that’s okay, if you are carpenter and a plumber also that’s okay, if you are a taxi driver and you can have a shop that’s okay but all it comes to anchors you become Bob.
Why do you see an anchor or a journalist any different from any other profession? Pakistani youth need to start seeing the bigger picture.
It became fashionable to call media bad. It became fashionable to question the anchor. You should realize anchors are also human beings doing the job. It’s the job. I am a business man, do my own business and do shows in evening.
Alrasub: People talk about change in Pakistan, what is that change and what is your observation that Pakistan really changing and its changing in right direction.
Faisal: Pakistanis are not changing but Pakistanis love to talk about change. Lot of countries who are not changing love to talk about change because it takes away the responsibility for them to change themselves. It’s fashionable you want to change the government, change the bureaucracy, and change the system, change the country, but nobody wants to change themselves. In any country which is not changing is obsessed to try to change the world. Countries that actually evolve are busy changing themselves individually. We don’t want to change ourselves. We want to stay in myopic thought.
Alrasub: What do you do in your free time.
Faisal: I’m not a movie star (laughing). But I don’t have free time. Every free time I get I do something useful. I spend free time whatever free time I have I love to watch movies, watch TV and music and travel sometimes.
Alrasub: What is your weak or loose End.
Faisal: The thing that irritates me is the people who are not willing to do better. Who are not trying to do better? People don’t want to learn and evolve and change themselves or accept to be cherry belle. Do your best. Be it traffic, be it punctuality. Learn new things, Look better, and dress better. People do not do that. People do not want to improve themselves and remain obsessed.
Alrasub: You are an entrepreneur, electrical engineer, anchor, writer and speaker too and very successful in all these roles, can you define what success is?
Faisal: I don’t know. Umm! success is different thing for different people. Success is that I have nothing worrying me. I have a happy life. I don’t believe I can change the world and I don’t have desire to change the world. I want to live a good, honest, simple life.
Alrasub: Who is your favorite anchor?
Faisal: My favorite anchor and interviewer is Naeem Bukhari.
Alrasub: Your message for all and especially for Pakistani youth.
Faisal: For Pakistani youth I would say they need to stop living with the values and ideas which have been cultivated the people in past. They live in a different world. We live in a world which is changing much faster than they can imagine. Youth have to see the bigger picture. It’s no more India, Pakistan, Lahore, Karachi. It’s the much bigger world. They have whole world on fingertips. Please evolve yourself very quickly. Stop thinking small. Start thinking big. Get out of your shell. Accept the world. Your opinions are not the only opinions. Your views are not the only views. Other people have opinions and views that can be very successful. So listen to them, learn from them. Be accepting with the people with other people’s views, ideology and religion. Be accepting with the other people’s words. Listen to people even if they are completely wrong. You might learn something. You have to start listening and accepting others. Stop fighting. Mind your own business. We are all same. We all were born with same spirit then why to hate each other so much. Calm down. Relax. For God’s sake just slow down. We are heading too fast to our ends. Slow down. Just smell roses. And calm down. Stop fighting for nothing.
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