By: Adnan Faisal & Mashal Amir Ali
BM: From Lahore to ARY, tell us about your successful journey.
IH: I have completed my Masters in Political Science from GC University Lahore. My parents had wished for me to become a doctor but as I always had a passion for journalism and was mostly a part of debate councils during my academic life so I began my career with PTV, broadcasting local news bulletins. Once I got a chance to audition for ARY, I was called upon unanimously by a senior representative amongst the large crowd of people, when I gave my audition the cameraman standing in front gave me a ‘thumbs up’ and within no time I was informed that I was the only candidate selected from Lahore, whereas on the same day, Waseem Badami was selected in Karachi. So this is how I initially began my career.
BM: How did you shift from news anchoring to Sar-e-Aam? What was the basic reason behind initiating the show?
IH: Before I started Sar-e-Aam I was a news anchor in ARY News for the past 5 years. A few years ago, I went to the management with a request to host a show in an empty slot that the channel had on Saturday’s, between 7 – 8 PM, which is now the actual timing of Sar-e-Aam. The management gave me a chance to host the show with the name of ARY special which surprisingly got the highest TRPs of that time, so the management told me to continue the format for a few more days. After airing the show for 4 months during which I was also anchoring, the management decided to make the slot official with a proper name and team. We initially came up with 2 names, “Inqar with Iqrar” and “Sar-e-Aam”, after which “Sar-e-Aam” got majority votes and the show officially aired its first episode on 1st January, 2012. Initially, we had decided to keep the show open-ended, adding every flavour to it, but as people started showing their attachment to the show, I realized that we would now have to be more careful and serious with the growing number of episodes.
BM: Have you ever been pressurized by your management or any external factor that forced you to take a step back or to hold back any program?
IH: We are near to completing 300 episodes of Sar-e-Aam. Amongst all these raids, I can proudly confess that we have never been stopped from management for airing any episode, due to pressure. For this, I would like to appreciate endless support and motivation of the entire management of the ARY family.
BM: You were highly criticized on the recent ‘sting operation’ after a show on the Sindh Assembly. What do you have to say about that? Was it deliberately planned?
IH: Firstly, I would like to appreciate that our arch rivals kept the entire news balanced without claiming any negative title to the show. However, there were other news channels that made a big fuss out of the show and said that it was all planned. On that account, I would say that there are numerous cameras in Sindh Assembly of which any law enforcing agency can ask for the recordings of that date, as a piece of evidence. That particular show was recorded and aired for 45 minutes, whereas our usual episodes air for 30 minutes. However, the most shocking part of that show while being targeted; was the negligence of the walk through gates that did not make any noise when we passed through them holding a weapon.
As far as the show being planned is concerned, the producer that I was accompanied with had no face value as my team members are always kept hidden and behind the camera. Nevertheless, whatever the situation had been, even as an anchor and a media person I shouldn’t have been allowed to bring any weapon inside the premises of Sindh Assembly no matter what the reason. It was not planned or targeted, we were just trying to show the negligence of security arrangements in Sindh assembly, which is the most important place of city.
BM: There is news that you have been approached from another renowned news channel. Is there a chance of any shift?
IH: There is no denying that I had been called and approached by many news channels, but I have no plans of joining them. ARY is like my family and the management has always supported me in any way possible.
BM: You have always faced an issue with PEMRA. What do you have to say about that?
IH: I have a little concern by the way PEMRA functions, as it gives its verdict in the show cause notice instead of an actual ultimatum or notification. Secondly, I accept the fact that PEMRA is doing a great job but I can’t seem to understand their ways of working, even though, the Chairman is from our fraternity but one should be criticized where necessary. I have in fact sent a letter with a number of questions in order to understand the way they function, so as to work accordingly.
BM: Do you think that media is following a proper code of conduct?
IH: Unfortunately, we are not following the actual and proper ethics of media and its content. Like I said, we are lacking in many aspects but at the same time we are working well than before, with the role of PEMRA and PBA. However, I frequently meet channel owners and emphasize the fact that we should develop our own Code of Conduct in order to build a stable and ethical environment within ourselves.
BM: Have you ever feared the direction you have selected as a career?
IH: My parents and even I had never thought that I would end up hosting a show with so much drama and threats because I was never the boy who would get into any fights or arguments. I started the show on a lighter tone, but got into its depth and sensitivity once I saw how people got attached to me, which then made me stand stronger against all evils without the fear of any threats and death.
BM: How do you balance your personal and professional life?
IH: There is no denying that I fail to give a sufficient amount of time to my family as my job requires a lot of travelling within and out of the country, as I also cover current natural and political disasters and issues apart from Sar-e-Aam. So, I realize that I don’t give the time I should give to my family, but they understand my priorities and support me at every step of the way for which I am highly thankful and blessed.