check this up here), the Times Now TV channel (the top-ranked English news channel), The Economic Times (India's largest financial daily), the tabloid Mirror (published separately from 6 cities), the Hindi language Navbharat Times, the Marathi Maharashtra Times and the glamour and entertainment channel ZOOm, will be entering into some sort of "intensive partnership" with the Jang Group, which runs the highest circulation Urdu newspaper in the world (had to balance things somewhat), The News, the weeklies Mag and Akhbar-e-Jahan, the eveningers Awam and Daily News and of course Geo, Geo News, Aag and Geo Super.
The stated intentions seem very noble and this collaboration could actually turn out to be a game-changer for India Pakistan relations if everything works out as planned. Media activists on both sides have long demanded greater access for each other's media and journalists, and a greater understanding of each other's points of view cannot be a bad thing in the long run.
However, a number of nagging questions still lurk in my mind:
1) Can Pakistan's establishment, seemingly so intent on scuttling any attempts by Zardari / PPP to bring India and Pakistan closer, accept this?
2) Can the Indian establishment and media put aside its patronizing tone and hostility towards Pakistan long enough for something like this to have a chance of succeeding?
3) How will the Jang Group - currently engaged in a tense and destructive stand-off with the government - reconcile its promotion of growing business ties with India when it has often beat up on politicians such as Zardari for attempting to do the same?
4) How will Times Group and the Jang Group reconcile their often hawkish stands vis a vis Indo-Pak relations with their newfound bonhomie?
5) How exactly would the collaboration between the Times of India (with a circulation exceeding 3.4 million and a distinct focus on Bollywood catfights) and The News (with a circulation of, um, slightly less and a distinct focus on Ansar Abbasi) actually work to both's benefit?
6) How the hell did Dawn get left behind? Something like this seems right up its alley.
Arnab Goswami (left) on his version of Capital Talk
7) Will Geo's Hamid Mir and Times Now's Arnab Goswami - surely the blustering mirrors of each other in tone and physique - square off in a wrestling match to the death?
Watch this space for more details. And remember, you heard it first right here.