Published in Sep-Oct 2016
After 25 years abroad working as a banker, I returned to Pakistan in 2005 to retire and enjoy a carefree life. However, without my realising it, the electronic and social media gradually sucked me into a hole from which I can’t escape.
As President of the Overseas Pakistani Investors Forum, I was invited by TV channels to appear on their talk shows dealing with economic, political and social issues. I soon realised that as far as economic issues went, there was a conspiracy of silence. It appeared that no expert had any idea about the economic history of the region or the various progressive taxes applicable in other countries and absent in Pakistan. In debate after debate I found myself speaking a language different from the rest of the experts.
After my mother passed away in August 2008, debating became a full time hobby and passion. In July 2009, I approached Babar Tajammul of Vibe TV and presented the concept of Muashi Masayal. He liked the idea and I started recording the show, exploring the underlying causes of poverty in the region. As a result, I declined the offer of a position as Chief Credit Officer of a major bank in the Gulf a few months later.
In February 2011, Business Plus TV asked me to host their daily live show Lifewire Insight, where I held discussions with businessmen, economists and politicians on topics such as land reform, deregulation of energy markets, katchi abaadis, inflation, progressive taxes, and regional trade. Later, I was asked to host The Market Show.
In September 2013, the channel’s management launched Tips of the Trade; an hour-long telephone based interactive show aired daily at the closing of the stock market. Based on my two and a half decades of experience as credit manager, I advise people on which shares to buy, sell or hold. The show is proving to be a hit with viewers, as people whose investments were Rs 100,000 when PSX was at 5,000 points have seen them grow up to Rs 800,000 as the market touches 40,000 points.
In 2012 I became active on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. Gradually my following increased – I now manage three pages on Facebook, but I am most active on Twitter and prefer people to join me there because of the site’s 140-character limit on tweets.
Nowadays as soon as I wake up at about 6:00 a.m., I log on to social media to find I am swamped with messages. People send queries through email, Messenger, WhatsApp, texts, mostly on economic and market issues. Many questions are funny; some praise me. Some people make offers in the hope of receiving special attention, but I have never accepted any money for the advice I give for the welfare of people. Allah has given me enough for my needs; I do all this to improve my chances in the next life.
I spend around two to three hours responding to the messages, reposting, and writing new posts. By 11:00 a.m. my blog, The Shinning [sic] Pakistan Daily is done. I turn off my iPad and read the newspapers – Daily Times and DAWN. These days I find most of the articles are repeats of what I have already read on social media, but newspapers have their own charm and reading them is a childhood habit.
While doing this I take breaks to eat a plate of fruit, have a cup of tea, and work out on the multi-gym. By 11:30 a.m. I am ready for a nap. At midday I have a hefty brunch of fresh roti, eggs, daal and salan, and watch CNN and BBC until it’s time to proceed to the TV channel. It is a 20 minute drive, but often I leave the car at home and call a cab with a view to walking back in the evening.
My live show, Tips of the Trade, begins at 3:10 p.m. Everything I have read in the morning comes in handy at this time; there is also a team of researchers at the channel who gather the global and local financial information that forms the basis of my show. Then the calls start coming in; some just to say how much they enjoy the show and how useful the advice is. Some ask my opinion on particular stocks. My favourite callers are the ones who want to discuss economic issues. After the show I stay at the channel and turn to social media until 6:30 p.m. when I appear on News Plus to respond to questions on economic policies, stock markets, international economic news and their impact on Pakistan.
Then it’s time to go home.
I walk at least an hour before hailing a cab or rickshaw.
I like walking along the streets; it gives me a chance to observe life. It also helps to make me feel less guilty for the indulgences of the weekend – Saturdays and Sundays are solely for the family, and I do not let my wife cook because weekends are for eating out.
By 9:00 p.m. I’m home.
I have dinner prepared by my wife, and watch TV with my family. Usually we watch comedy shows, dramas, or a film – with small peeks at the news channel headlines. By midnight I’m in bed, ready to wake at 6:00 a.m. when my show is on repeat telecast.
I like watching my show; it gives me the opportunity to observe any shortcomings and ponder once again on the questions that were raised.
Tarique Khan Javed is President, Overseas Pakistani Investors Forum. firstname.lastname@example.org
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