Book on Pakistan Television launched -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Book on Pakistan Television launched

Peerzada Salman

KARACHI: A book titled ‘This is PTV — Another Day, Another World’ by former managing director of PTV Agha Nasir was launched at the Karachi Press Club on Saturday.

The event was chaired by eminent mediaperson Farhad Zaidi.

Shedding light on the genesis of the book, Mr Nasir said it was written to record the events (successes and failures alike) that happened at Pakistan Television in a span of a little more than 40 years. He remarked that if events were not recorded they were likely to get lost in the mists of time and that should not happen to PTV. Commenting that he would like to think himself as a creative writer, he said that when he set out to pen the book he did not have a fair idea about the difficulties he may encounter in the kind of research work required for the purpose. He then briefly talked about those difficulties.

Senior journalist Ghazi Salahuddin started off by informing the gathering about the wonders of modern-day information media. Quoting a Time magazine article he said that on Youtube every minute 60 hours of footage was being uploaded (a monster with a billion eyes), and that Facebook had the largest population after China and India. He touched upon the issue of the efficacy and impact of TV channels which had mushroomed in recent times and argued that studying the early days of PTV would provide the basis for any examination (especially by students of mass communication) of the evolution of all these developments. Mr Nasir’s book was therefore of immense value, he said. Going down memory lane, he recalled the days when television was first introduced in Pakistan and lauded the ‘enterprise’ of the people at the time.

Veteran current affairs producer Athar Viqar Azeem, congratulated Mr Nasir for being awarded the Sitara-i-Imtiaz by the Sindh governor the day before and touched upon his early association with him, mentioning in particular the Islamic Summit Conference that took place in 1973. He said he had known Mr Nasir as a very good drama producer but with the summit his abilities as someone who could manage matters related to current affairs became apparent. Speaking about the contents of the book, he said it discussed different eras. He told the audience that when Gen Musharraf took over he was asked by a colonel to record the general’s speech. After the speech was over, he said, he asked Gen Musharraf whether to play the national anthem, because the anthem was played when the head of state delivered the speech and Musharraf’s status was not clear. The general sought his advice and he (Athar Viqar) said it would be better if they did not run the anthem. It was the first time that the national anthem wasn’t played after such a speech. He also spoke on PTV’s technical achievements (running three live programmes at a time) in an era when technology had not yet worked its wonders.

Babar Ayaz, tracing the origins of PTV, said that initially the objective was to use the medium to contribute to development programmes in the country but once it was established the government realised it could use television as a propaganda machine. He narrated an incident highlighting how the state-controlled medium functioned. When Murtaza Bhutto was assassinated in 1996, PTV ran the news on its midnight bulletin, that too just before the sports news. Moreover, while giving the news it quoted the BBC as saying that Murtaza Bhutto had been killed.

Mustafa Mandokhel, Shamim-ur-Rahman and Farhad Zaidi also spoke.