To be frank, however (and reiterating that I haven't yet read the story itself), didn't you find the cover a tad bit cynical? I mean, the globally circulated international parent magazine notoriously runs a story calling Pakistan "The Most Dangerous Nation in the World", and its Pakistan franchise - which would only see distribution in Pakistan - takes the opposite tone? It helps to ingratiate it to the locals, sure, but it doesn't really mean Newsweek as a whole has changed its stance, does it? Is that what is known as doing as the Romans do, in Rome?
But Newsweek Pakistan has also had a number of distractions to contend with even before it hit the market. First of all, the Washington Post Company, which owned Newsweek, decided to dump its mounting liabilities with the magazine and sold it to billionaire Sidney Harman, who made his fortune selling stereo equipment, reportedly for $1. As a consequence of this sale in August, the editor of Newsweek, Jon Meacham, decided to leave his job, as did foreign policy whiz kid / enfant terrible Fareed Zakariya Zakaria. Zakariya Zakaria, who announced he would be moving to Time magazine, it should be mentioned, was one of the people who helped secure Iqbal Z. Ahmed's A.G. Group (which owns Newsweek Pakistan) the franchise.
The decision by Newsweek to launch a Pakistani franchise was made before the sale of Newsweek took effect, but it's not clear how the change of management and top editorial staff will affect the Pakistani edition. Although Harman has said he would like to retain "most" of Newsweek International's 325 employees, it is expected that there will be all sorts of cuts to recover the magazine's heavy liabilities. Whether these affect operations in Pakistan at all may be moot (as a franchise, it's probably paying royalty to the parent company to use its name) but Newsweek's international coverage may be affected.
As if this were not enough, Newsweek Pakistan's first issue, scheduled to hit the stands on August 30, could not make it to the market on time. Apparently, the magazine - which had been printed outside Pakistan - got stuck at customs and it took more than two days to have it cleared. It only reached the newsstands on September 1.
But all of these issues perhaps pale in comparison to the fact that the franchise lost one of its high profile editors (the Editor? we're not sure) before the first issue was even launched. As we reported in March, former Daily Times news editor and The Friday Times contributing editor Ejaz Haider had been signed on with much trumpeting by Newsweek Pakistan. So it was a bit unsettling for the journalist community to discover in August that Ejaz Haider had already left his new job.
We can now confirm the reasons that Mr Haider was asked to resign. Some of you might have come across a rather rude anonymous email letter / article that had done the rounds right after President Zardari took his infamous trip to his French chateau in the midst of the building floods crisis back home. Yes, the one titled "Fuck You, Mr President" which began thus:
"Let us start with the basics. You are an asshole. A thief. An alleged murderer. And a scoundrel. And mind-blowingly incompetent to boot. The only reason you matter is because your equally incompetent, currently delusional, then dysfunctional, mother-in-law thought that you were such a lowly piece of shit that you would never get in the way of your late wife, also delusional, whose dowry included the most popular political party in Pakistan. Why she had such elevated expectations of a two-bit thug is beyond us. But still.After you had done your husbandly duties, the sensible thing for BB to have done would be to have had you shot. In fact, she should just had had your sperm frozen on day one and then had you tortured into the next dimension. But BB made many mistakes, marrying you being one class-fucking-A example."
Well, it seems this particular inflammatory diatribe was traced back to Mr Haider, who, according to this site (where you can read the entire text as well, we saw no point in reproducing it here), acknowledges at least being "a minor author" but "100 per cent editor" of the piece. (We cannot vouch for the credibility of these claims, but our sources have independently confirmed the reasons for Haider's departure.) Understandably, the publishers of Newsweek Pakistan, known for their closeness to the target of the piece, were not terribly thrilled. Actually, to be fair, even without the top-level linkages, any publisher wishing to preserve their journalistic credibility, would have had to take action against Mr Haider.
It does seem strange that a journalist of Mr Haider's experience and usually sober public temperament would have allowed his name to be associated with such a polarizing piece of foul-mouthed invective, no matter what the provocation. But then, who knows what forces possess people in the dark of night, which often lead to their undoing. Mr Haider is now back as a contributing editor of TFT.
: : : UPDATE : : :
Ejaz Haider Rebuts
Ejaz Haider has written to us to rebut the claims of the above post. We reproduce here his email to Cafe Pyala in full and leave the matter for readers to judge:
"Gentlemen: i write you apropos of your post…
i don't know who you are and what is your interest in putting out the such-gup contained in your piece which has been sent me by someone. i do hope this blogging helps you make some money. and if it does, do tell me how. on the other hand, if it's a luxury, i envy you for being able to afford it.I had no idea until this stage that I was worth writing about. but strange are the ways of this changing world that even considers lady gaga an icon, so i shan't waste my time on trying to figure out your motives, good or bad. nor do they matter to me, frankly. in fact, if you did want to write about me, one of you (assuming there's more than one, and i could be wrong) could have, given your "range", contacted me directly. i resigned from newsweek pakistan for my own reasons which have nothing to do with the piece whose writing is being attributed to me, though i must say that i forwarded it to several friends after tweaking it a little. in my private, punjabi moments i even agree with some of its contents. but i like to abuse in punjabi. far more satisfying. also, if i had written it, i would have happily bylined it. if you want my take on mr zardari, you can read it here http://www.indianexpress.com/news/the-difficulty-of-staying-democratic/658873/i hope that clears up the issue. as for newsweek pakistan, i wish them well. best,Ejaz HaiderContributing Editor, The Friday Times"