‘…to live in a better world’ – Faisal Qureshi, TV Anchorperson

Published in Slogan (March 2010)

As one might expect, Faisal Qureshi’s favourite pastime is to talk. In conversation with Ayesha Hoda, he reveals his firm belief in the power of dialogue and how it can change things for the better.

Who am I?

“That’s a tough question. I like to believe that I am a life coach… and a dreamer. I am someone who wants to learn and evolve. So I would say Faisal Qureshi is alive. And the biggest sign of life is that I am evolving continuously for better survival. The day I stop changing, you can come and pray for my soul!”

On becoming an anchor

“It was a fluke. A friend – Umar Sheikh – just asked me if I wanted to do a TV show with him. We sat together and designed ‘Loose Ends’. It included us and our wives, Reema and Tania – four educated people hailing from the middle class – who sat and talked about different subjects.”

‘Loose Ends’ was very successful due to its informal approach. The hosts were not professional media people and they were quite blunt in talking about different and sometimes taboo subjects, such as sexual abuse, child molestation, seeing a psychiatrist, second marriages and so on. People related to the show but eventually it saw its own end.

“It was becoming too popular,” says Faisal. “And that’s not a good thing in Pakistan. Lots of other shows would have not picked up if ‘Loose Ends’ had existed and many people did not like that.”

Faisal then launched ‘Breakfast at Dawn’ on DawnNews and hosted it for a year.

“It was in English and English is not really a language which works in Pakistan. So there was no point. I was just talking to myself. By that time media was just not a fluke for me. It had become something I wanted to do. My purpose of working in media was that I wanted to live in a better world. I wanted to change myself and talk to more and more people. And media is an instrument to talk to people. It should teach and inspire; motivate and protect culture and society.”

Ankahi

Samaa TV then gave Faisal Qureshi a night time show called ‘Ankahi’. It was based on social vices like ignorance of traffic rules, accumulating filth, bad politics and so on. Faisal wanted to make people realise that they need to change themselves.

“People don’t like it – it’s an old adage: Satan was Lucifer once but he may have gone back to worshipping God and may be we are just committing sins in his name. The point is you need to change yourself. If you cannot find solutions, at least do not become the problem.

“When I say Japan, it means civilised, punctual, humble etc. When I say Pakistan, it means uncontrolled, rowdy, undisciplined, dirty, etc. Why is that? Why can’t the masses become more civilised?”

Faisal says his show managed to motivate people in the short term to improve things.

“And then ‘Ankahi’ was also becoming too popular. It was very different from the other shows, which were all based on politics and arguments etc. It had been able to build its own viewership. So I made the first move and left before they shut it down.”

Faisal is now hosting ‘Bang-e-Dara’ (Call of the Caravan) five days a week on News1 and ‘Karavan’ (Caravan) on Sundays. The former was based on politics but is gradually moving towards social reform as well.

On the importance of talking

“We as a people are obsessed with doing something,” states Faisal. “We think talking is a waste of time. Now I’ve asked this question repeatedly: what is it that you want to do? I’ve never received the answer. And then they say you just sit and talk.

“What I believe we need to do is (a) better ourselves; and (b) talk about it. Lack of conversation and bad conversation can destroy anything. Dialogue and preaching are important. You change yourself and then preach. There is nothing else to do!”

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