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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.-Illustration by Sabir Nazar
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.-Illustration by Sabir Nazar
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 ho
Always remember this thumb rule, if you don’t have any knowledge on a particular subject, throw in some couplets.-Illustration by Sabir Nazar
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.-Illustration by Sabir Nazar
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.