Mohsin Naqvi - a best choice
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Syed Mohsin Raza Naqvi was appointed as the caretaker chief minister of Punjab by the Election Commission of Pakistan on Sunday last (22nd January) following a deadlock over the names put forth to a committee of equal representatives from the opposition and treasury benches.
The process of an interim set-up was initiated when then chief minister of Punjab, Chaudhry Parvez Elahi dissolved the Punjab Assembly following Imran Khan’s directive. The assembly was effectively dissolved when Governor Punjab Balighur Rehman excused himself from the process. Protocol dictates that after the dissolution of the assembly, an interim government has to be set in place that will ensure free and fair elections in the province. The four names put forth to the committee were that of Mohsin Raza Naqvi, Ahad Khan Cheema, Naveed Cheema and Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera by the opposition and treasury respectively, and after due procedure, acclaimed journalist and media tycoon, Mohsin Raza Naqvi had been appointed as the caretaker chief minister.
Although, it is understandable to have some reservations regarding his appointment, one cannot ignore the facts that speak for themselves. Mohsin Raza Naqvi is the ideal person for the job as it is a fact widely acknowledged that he is a thorough professional, apolitical who actually cares about the wellbeing of the general population. Although he has chosen to keep his contributions to society away from the public eye, they are undeniable nonetheless. He is known to feed around 6,000 people every Ramazan and he does so diligently, without any expectation of being acknowledged. Moreover, his generosity and altruism can also be seen from the fact that after one of his close friends and chief reporter, Asad Sahi passed away, he took it upon himself to take care of his family, also making sure that his deceased friend’s brothers had decent jobs in journalism. A man who cares this deeply about people, ranging from strangers to his own friends will undoubtedly put the needs of Punjab and its people first as well, and make sure they are met in a way that perhaps no other person could ensure.
Naqvi’s rise in the world of media began in 2009, when he launched City42 TV channel, a game-changer in the media industry since it was the first channel specifically dedicated to covering local news in Lahore. The fact that Naqvi blended together existing concepts of television and newspapers to form one of Pakistan’s greatest media empires is undeniable. The fact that he has successfully adapted these concepts along the way truly makes him a pioneer of the media industry in Pakistan, and someone who was able to accomplish it all in a short span of time as well. The launch of City42 was soon followed by City41 in Faisalabad, Rohi TV, UK44 in England and 24News that covers current events on a national level. Today, the City Media Group has five TV channels along-with a newspaper that accompanies City42 under its umbrella.
He has been in journalism for decades and is a well-known name, established in the media world due to his charisma and hard work. His reputation is a testament to the fact that he truly knows the political landscape of Pakistan from the inside. He knows the ins and outs of politics and how partisanship has been rampant over the years. He has observed how the vested interests of politicians come into play while deciding matters of public welfare and has always been on the right side of the fence, never falling into the well of media bias or personal power-play, something that can also be attested by the fact that he has also been the youngest regional bureau chief at CNN. In fact, he is also the reason I decided to pursue a career in journalism myself. I was all set to become a Chartered Accountant, but Mohsin's dedication to his craft and his determination to be on the right side of history by making sure people were informed of the news with no political bias became an inspiration for me to do the same for my country. Being a media tycoon who is looked upon as the epitome of ethical journalism in Pakistan, Naqvi can be relied upon to truly know what not to do when he is in a position of power and to choose to focus on the issues that matter most for the wellbeing of the province, ones that he has become well-versed in over the years.
Another important point to note here is that Mohsin Raza Naqvi was able to morph one local channel into a whole media empire, while being constrained by limited resources. This quality is exactly what is needed in a chief minister right now. A man who can do more with less available resources is the need of the hour, seeing as Pakistan is currently entrenched in an economic crisis as well as political instability. If he could take one newly launched local channel and then turn it into a household name in Lahore followed by channels all over the country as well as a newspaper in a short amount of time, there is no doubt regarding the wonders he can do as chief minister for a province that is ensuring free and fair elections in the largest province, wrestling with economic decay and falling quality of living.
Naqvi’s reputation as one of Pakistan’s leading journalists and media tycoons as well as his personal values have ensured that he has strong connections to all the major political parties in the country. He has close ties with PML-N, as well as PMLN-Q and PPP. Moreover, he has friendly ties with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf as well, in fact Imran Khan himself used to visit his City Media Group on numerous occasions and had detailed discussions in Punjab. PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry has also expressed about his close ties with him in one of his tweets. Therefore, seeing as he has allies and supporters across the board, it is quite obvious that Naqvi will be able to take decisions while keeping everyone’s demands in mind and will also be able to bring them on the same page regarding important matters. He is respected and looked towards as a person with integrity and one that can satisfy the majority. At a point where Pakistan is in dire need of free and fair elections, in this time of economic turmoil, it is absolutely vital that PTI leaders put their egos aside, even if Naqvi’s name was proposed by the PDM, and focus instead on what he is bringing to the table, which is a promise of working towards political stability that will no doubt also lead to economic stability. Punjab needed someone who can ensure that these are conducted at the earliest with no hiccups, and seeing as Mohsin Raza Naqvi is neutral when it comes to matters of political allegiances, he was the obvious choice for the role.
The decision taken by the ECP is a commendable one as in these uncertain times, when the entire country is inches away from an economic meltdown and the province of Punjab has limited resources to dig itself out of the depths of political instability, Mohsin Raza Naqvi will be able to solve these prevailing issues as well as smoothly lead the province towards free and fair elections. Best of luck for this vital constitutional role, Naqvi. The whole Pakistani media fraternity is proud of you, and we have complete faith in the fact that you will perform your duties with due diligence and compassion for the general population.–Courtesy The Nation
–The writer is a journalist based in Lahore who covers politics, economy and militancy. He can be reached on Twitter @HassanNaqvi5