Given the general perception of Pakistan in the West, this was not the country where one expected the international celebrity and lifestyle monthly magazine, ‘Hello!', to make a foray. But, against the odds, ‘Hello! Pakistan' is all set to launch sometime next month and the press conference organised here on Saturday provided a sampling of the possible potholes ahead for this venture.
Unveiling plans for ‘Hello! Pakistan' with a dummy cover featuring half-Pakistani actress Nargis Fakhri in an off-shoulder attire and talking about her debut in a Bollywood film, the magazine's team was walking into a minefield. The inevitable question came soon enough: “Have you got a no-objection certificate from the Jama'at-e-Islami?''
Evidently, the team had come prepared for such a line of questioning. Consulting Editor Wajahat S. Khan said: “This is our Pakistan also as much as it is theirs. Go take a look at the bookshops in town and see for yourself how many such magazines are available in the market.''
The journalists persisted. “We need to celebrate Pakistan and its achievers. It is not about redefining Pakistan; it's about celebrating Pakistan. It will be a family read. We are in the business of celebrating all that is beautiful and vibrant in Pakistan,'' said Mr. Khan. Underscoring the positive message the edition will bring to a nation associated with terrorists, publisher Zahraa Saifullah said this would be Pakistan's first glossy international magazine franchise. Their concern was the business plan. Mr. Khan pointed out that the comparison was made with India with its vast English readership. “Pakistan looks like a small neighbourhood in comparison'' but the Saif Group of Companies is hoping to tap into the huge diaspora and also the Indian and West Asian editions of ‘Hello!'. Already, they are in touch with ‘Hello! India' for using articles and also dipping into material given that Bollywood actors are a household name here. Besides, it will focus on Pakistanis too. “How many of us know that the youngest professor at Harvard is a Pakistani. I want to know more about this guy and so would a lot many others. Let's profile him and other such Pakistanis who have done well for themselves anywhere in the world and instill a feel good factor about Pakistan.''