Apologies for being AWOL for so long. I couldn't explain it even if I wanted to.
In any case, some major developments in the media in the last few days, which really I should have posted as soon as I found out about them. But better late than never I guess.
First off, there has been a major quake in the house of Nawai Waqt. Yesterday, i.e. Monday 7 September, the grouchy old patriarch Majeed Nizami (who must be in his mid-80s now and, yes, the guy who claimed it was he who forced Nawaz Sharif to explode the bum by threatening to explode HIM if he did not) staged a coup of sorts in his own empire. He ousted the founding editor of The Nation, Arif Nizami, who it must be pointed out is his nephew and the son of the late Hameed Nizami, the founder of the Nawai Waqt group. In his place, he appointed... and this really beggars belief... Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf Secretary General and spokesperson, Shireen Mazari, as the editor.
A friend was joking that Majeed Nizami obviously thought The Nation was becoming too leftist a paper (ha!), and wanted to correct the dangerous tilt towards liberalism by bringing in the woman who makes no bones about her connections with the intelligence agencies of the country, and who has been on the warpath against the US ambassador of late. But jokes aside, it is being said that this coup has to do with family turfs - Majeed Nizami would like the "spoils" (a most appropriate term for the Nawai Waqt empire) to remain in the hands of his (adopted) daughter, rather than be taken over by his nephew. Nevermind that he himself took over the media house by default when his brother passed away. Shireen Mazari, according to this version, is merely keeping the seat warm. What it doesn't explain is how Majeed Nizami's benefactor, Nawaz Sharif, will see the PTI Spokesperson being appointed editor at his favourite English paper. And will the new editor continue in her role as the Secretary General of the most irrelevant party in Pakistan?
But there's more: today, according to some reports, the entire editorial team of The Nation has resigned to protest the sacking of Arif Nizami. This is now getting really interesting. Watch this space for updates.
Meanwhile, Sultan Lakhani, known more for selling consumer goods as Lakson Group and who began the Express newspaper and Express 24/7 channels mainly to spite the Jang Group - at whose hands he had received some not too positive coverage - is now thinking of launching a new English language newspaper. His son, Bilal Lakhani, is going around meeting all sorts of journalists on a major recruitment drive for the paper, which is set to be launched in the coming January or February.
Whether there is space for another English paper, I leave to you to judge. But so far the following people have already signed up: Dawn's former Islamabad resident editor and London correspondent, the veteran M. Ziauddin, will be the "Executive Editor". Abbas Athar, currently editor of the Urdu language Express, will be called the Group Editor, which I suppose means he will be higher in the heirarchy than Ziauddin. In addition, the Editor Reporting of The News (and ex-Dawn) Kamal Siddiqui has also apparently jumped ship, though as what, it's not exactly clear.
All those being recruited may want to ask one simple question of Mr Lakhani: what about Business Today? Some of you may remember that that paper, also owned by Sultan Lakhani, was shut down one fine day at 5 pm with Mr Lakhani coming in and telling the newsroom that the paper would not be publishing the next day and that everyone should henceforth go home. They may want to ensure that this is not the fate awaiting them one fine day down the road...
As I said, watch this space for updates...