By Faisal Zahid Malik
It is a great honour for us in Pakistan Observer that the newspaper, founded by one of the pioneering and seasoned names of Pakistani journalism – Zahid Malik, has completed 29 years and is entering into 30th year of its life. This is, indeed, a significant achievement in itself if one takes into account the challenges confronting the profession of journalism and especially bringing out a quality daily in Pakistan. The successful and eventful journey of Pakistan Observer is a tribute to the commitment and hard work of all those who remained associated with the paper in one capacity or the other and contributed for the cause of the newspaper as well as the profession.
Like other newspapers, Pakistan Observer too is bracing the challenge of survival in this highly complex age of online journalism and mind-boggling revolution of social media but this newspaper encountered additional problems being an ideological publication committed to promote the causes of Pakistan, Islam, the Muslim Ummah and humanity in general besides maintaining its status as champion of objective journalism. Zahid Malik always believed in professional pursuits and never compromised on principles of healthy journalism. This has been the policy ever since Pakistan Observer was launched as a tabloid on 11 November 1988 and is vigorously being pursued today.
One of the biggest challenges that Pakistan Observer faced during its life was the day when its founder, Zahid Malik, who had great vision and plans for the paper passed away on 01 September 2016. We found ourselves at crossroads and some feared uncertainty about future of the daily but we bow our head before Almighty Allah, who granted us the necessary resolve and courage and guided us on the path of survival and success. We are also thankful to all team members who persisted in their support and cooperation and as a result Pakistan Observer is shining magnificently in the galaxy of Pakistani press as before, rather with added strength and vitality.
There has been immense media proliferation in Pakistan during the last one decade or so and conflicting interests have created a very complex situation where principles of objective and fair journalism are often compromised for the sake of rating and circulation. Zahid Malik had a firm conviction that , in our context, journalism has to serve the community, uphold social, cultural and ideological norms and traditions of the society, promote national identity and religiously defend the causes of the Muslim Ummah. He did not waiver on this resolve throughout his life and even went to jail for speaking and upholding truth. Based on his enlightened vision, the newspaper has all along promoted the cause of a strong defence, nuclear programme of the country, Kashmir issue and stronger relationship with all Muslim countries especially the Arab world. He was also an ardent supporter of the idea of a strategic relationship with our great neighbor China and for this purpose he founded a think-tank ‘101 Friends of China’, a non-governmental organization aimed at consolidating and widening ties with Beijing. In line with his thinking and vision, Pakistan Observer made its humble share during the last four-five years in forging national consensus on the epoch-making project of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), highlighting its benefits for Pakistan, the two countries and the region as well as promoting intellectual discourse to help remove misgivings of provinces and some vested interests. Pakistan Observer and prestigious Shanghai Daily have also signed an agreement of cooperation to promote people-to-people contacts between the two countries.
Late Zahid Malik honestly and sincerely believed that Pakistan has to go for ‘Look Arab’ and ‘Look Central Asia’ policy as part of the strategy to mitigate its economic woes and challenges. With this in view, he had developed personal rapport with envoys of Arab and Central Asian states and frequently visited these countries for interaction with opinion-makers aimed at forging multi-dimensional relationship. This continues to be the policy of Pakistan Observer and it is endeavour of its management to cultivate closer cooperation and ties with these countries.
Strong defence of the country’s nuclear programme has been one of the most dominant principles of policy of Pakistan Observer. Zahid Malik acquired global fame as an author of two widely read books on Pakistan’s nuclear programme that provide most authentic account of genesis of the country’s nuclear quest, and rationale of the programme. This newspaper has always maintained that nuclear deterrence was a must to guarantee peace in South Asia because of India’s aggressive posture and threats to Pakistan’s security and existence due to Indian designs. There is national consensus on Pakistan’s nuclear programme, to which every successive government contributed its share, and no one can or should dare roll it back as it made defence of the country invincible.
Strengthening of the ideological foundations of the country and promoting identity and religious and cultural values remain fundamental pillars of the policy of Pakistan Observer. The founder of the paper not only authored two highly informative books on religion – ‘Mazameen-e-Quran-e-Hakeem’ and ‘Mazameen-e-Ahadees-e-Nabvi’ (Subjects of Quran and Subjects of Hadith) but also established ‘Aiwan-e-Quaid’ in the Federal Capital, which is instrumental now in disseminating knowledge and promoting the cause of ideology and our great religion. This is because we believe that geographical and ideological defence of the country is complementary in nature and strong ideological base serves as strong pillar for geographical defence. Nazriya Pakistan Council (NPC) is also seized with a number of initiatives aimed at promoting these lofty ideals.
Pakistan Observer has also been championing the cause of democracy and continuation of the policies and the system. We firmly believe that Pakistan’s problems have much to do with instability and discontinuation of policies and therefore, all elected governments must complete their term and people allowed to make a choice in general elections on the basis of their performance. We also believe that there should be no institutional rivalry or clash as this has unimaginable consequences for the country in the backdrop of emerging regional and global environment. While the elected governments should be allowed to work unhindered, it is also duty and responsibility of the governments to take effective measures for strengthening of institutions as a country can be as stronger as its institutions.
Pakistan Observer is also mindful of the challenges and threats posed by the age of technology, Internet and intensive competition. All newspapers are threatened by problems like sluggish growth of ads affecting their revenues and squeezing circulation in the face of online journalism. I am glad that our team is continuously engaged in innovation, adapting to new technologies and formulating business plans as per dictates of the new era.
As we turn 29, we renew our pledge to continue our humble contribution as a responsible member of the ‘fourth pillar’ of the state, committed to fulfillment of aspirations of our readers vis-à-vis healthy journalism and causes of the country, Islam and welfare of the international community as well as peace and security of the globe. Pakistan Observer is committed to brave all challenges and translate vision and philosophy of its founder into reality. (ends)