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Yesterday a journalist, today a minister

"My educated guess is that Fahd Husain will not return to journalism in the future. What a big loss to journalism! He will perhaps seek his career in politics. The problem is that the choppy waters of politics have not treated journalists well"

The moment the social media broke the notification of the appointment of (should I call him, former) journalist and political commentator Fahd Husain as special assistant to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, a debate ensued about whether he should have accepted the position or not.

The notification for Fahd Husain’s appointment reads: “The prime minister, in terms of rule 4(6) of Rules of Business, 1973, has been pleased to appoint Syed Fahd Husain as special assistant to the prime minister with the status of federal minister, with immediate effect.”

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So, the core prize in the development is the status of a ‘federal minister’ for Fahd Husain.

Though the notification is silent on the details about the newly appointed aide’s portfolio, it is presumed that Fahd Husain will be given a portfolio of information.

Personally, I am not against the decision of Fahd Husain for accepting a government position as being a minister he can do something better for journalists. During his long career as a journalist, Fahd Husain has worked as Dawn’s resident editor in Islamabad.

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Before that, he was the executive director of news at Express TV and executive editor at The Express Tribune. He has headed several television channels, which means he knows the basic working of the newsroom. Since he has been close to grassroots journalists, he is well aware of the challenges the media houses face.

The development, however, did not sit well with a majority of journalist colleagues and the public at large. They think that by accepting a government office under a political party’s rule, Fahd Husain has tainted his previous work and marvelous career. People are scrutinizing the articles he wrote during the previous Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government, and conclude that all his criticism directed at then chief minister Usman Buzdar and then prime minister Imran Khan was motivated. They say that Fahd Hussain, just like Najam Sethi, Absar Alam, Mushtaq Minhas, and so on, did journalism for his vested interests, and once the government is gone, Fahd Husain will be back to the profession as a PML-N activist, and not a fair, objective political commentator. Someone tweeted: “Fahd Husain is a partisan propagandist, not a journalist. He has been rewarded for several years of anti-Imran Khan propaganda. You obviously know this but pretend that you don’t.”

I have been a regular reader of Fahd Husain, especially the pieces he wrote in the last two years. I can say without an iota of doubt that whatever he wrote as a journalist, it was a sincere voice to put the PTI government on the right track. He never overstepped the lines drawn by journalistic ethics, and always remained decent in his criticism. I can also find a number of pieces he wrote supporting the good work of former prime minister Imran Khan and former chief minister Usman Buzdar.

My educated guess is that Fahd Husain will not return to journalism in the future. What a big loss to journalism! He will perhaps seek his career in politics. The problem is that the choppy waters of politics have not treated journalists well. We can see a long list of journalists, who tried to join politics without contesting elections, but the cruel history binned them once the favorable winds changed their directions.

My best wishes to you, Fahd Husain. You being a progressive mind, I am dead sure, will help journalists have safe and peaceful cyberspace. You will help us do journalism without state censorship. You will ensure a safe working environment for journalists. And, you will smile when the media starts criticizing your work, your ministry, and your government. You know the media cannot help criticizing the government.

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