Thanks but no thanks: Talat Hussain turns down information ministry

Published: March 30, 2013

Talat Hussain. PHOTO: EXPRESS/ FILE

Veteran journalist and talk show host Talat Hussain said on Friday that he has refused an offer to become federal information minister in the caretaker cabinet.

Hussain says he received a phone call around 4:30pm on Friday from a person associated with the caretaker setup. “I was doing my cricket net practice at the time, and was about to step in to bat when the call came,” says Hussain.

The person on the other end of the line told him that he was being considered for the post and that he had called to obtain his ‘prior consent’ and would appreciate an immediate response. To this, Hussain responded that he wasn’t interested in the post and declined the offer. A second call was made to ask him to reconsider but he refused again.

“Our job as journalists is to criticise, critique and analyse, and if you become a minister, and especially information minister, then your job is to defend, protect and even hide damaging facts. Clearly, there is a conflict of interest,’ he said.

Hussain also went on to express his reservations about the composition of the caretaker setup, saying: “I’m not sure if I want to be associated with it.”

His decision was praised by at least two of his colleagues, with Ansar Abbasi saying it had added to the stature of professional journalists. “Government offices and positions are not meant for journalists. If they start running after attractive jobs and positions, then who will practise journalism?” said Abbasi.

“It is our misfortune that certain people, who use journalism to cater to their political goals, have gained popularity,” he said.

Another senior columnist, Humayun Gauhar, said that irrespective of his reasons, Talat Hussain deserved credit for his decision.

“Once a journalist enters the realm of government or takes up offices, he loses his credibility. Be it Mushahid Hussain Sayed or any other journalist, they don’t enjoy the same credibility as they once did,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2013.

Reader Comments (56)

  • faraz
    Mar 30, 2013 - 10:16AM

    Talat was Musharraf’s Director PTV

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  • rashid nadeem
    Mar 30, 2013 - 10:34AM

    i love talat hussain he is a journalist in real sense

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  • Shahzad
    Mar 30, 2013 - 10:36AM

    Mr. Talat Hussain undoubtedly is the best journalist we have. I would say same towards Ansar Abbasi as well. Decisions such as these help you stay upright and high headed. Mr. Najam Sethi wouldn’t know that obviously.

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  • Asif Nawaz
    Mar 30, 2013 - 10:50AM

    Good Job Talat… He is the only honest Anchor left out there.

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  • Usman786
    Mar 30, 2013 - 10:52AM

    I believe edu people like him shd have taken the job esp in care taker setup and do good for the country. there is nothing to defend in 3 monthsRecommend

  • usman
    Mar 30, 2013 - 10:58AM

    GOOD DECISION TALAT SB……. I don’t know how well u played in net but this is definitely a master blaster

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  • ahmed
    Mar 30, 2013 - 11:05AM

    So this means, its easy to criticize but difficult to deliver. If someone cannot deliver should stop criticizing as well.

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  • Voice of D.I.Khan
    Mar 30, 2013 - 11:05AM

    Respect for this great man… :)

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  • SAK
    Mar 30, 2013 - 11:11AM

    He is a poineer in Pakistan for talk shows. We all remember when he started with New Night on PTV.

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  • Yoghurt lover
    Mar 30, 2013 - 11:12AM

    “Our job as journalists is to criticise, critique and analyse”

    Really?!

    Then why do you involve in cheap propaganda and character assassination?

    And what is this funny business of care-taker government with journalists?

    Pakistanis never get anything right.

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  • Syed Qasim
    Mar 30, 2013 - 11:16AM

    I wondeer if some of this is also publicity seeking. I know for sure of a number of other names who were approached and refused but did not make ‘news stories’ about it. For example people I know were offered and refused include Mian Mohammad Mansha, Dr. Adil Najam, Dr. Shahid Kardar, Yousuf Ali.

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  • Malik
    Mar 30, 2013 - 11:23AM

    @faraz:
    Director PTV was a professional assignment. This offer of Information Minister, with likes of. M Mandviwalla and other PPP, MQM nominees in Sind caretaker can make this highly controversial. Journalists like Nazeer Naji or anchors like Luqman who accept expensive gifts, all paid foreign vacations, luxury cars, even cash have already made themselves very controversial. Such rental journalists should be condemned. Taalt Hussain is very respected and his decision not to accept this offer, will further elevate his credibility.

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  • Aschraful Makhlooq
    Mar 30, 2013 - 11:29AM

    This has been totally abstruse and esoteric now that any sincere and honest person who is offered any key post in interim government setup is not ready to be the part of the interim government setup……..

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  • Village chamyati
    Mar 30, 2013 - 11:33AM

    A Man with charater, professionalism, dignity and worth. what that means, simply its mean Talat Hussain.
    Not like Najim satti who the held become CM Punjab and what ground he is capable to assume CM position.

    \
    Hat off to you Talat.

    villagechamyati@gmail.comRecommend

  • Mar 30, 2013 - 11:52AM

    RESPECT.

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  • Numan Ali
    Mar 30, 2013 - 11:56AM

    Good Decision sir

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  • sham
    Mar 30, 2013 - 12:03PM

    o yeah if this offer been made by Mushraf then he wouldn’t refuse…remember PTV directorship .. now how credible is that for a journalist to accept a post in a Governmental sector during a dictatorship ?

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  • fasihul Haque khan
    Mar 30, 2013 - 12:07PM

    Taalt Hussain has done priseworthy work by decline not join care taker gove.once u enter the realm of govt ,you lost your crditability

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  • Hasnain Yousaf
    Mar 30, 2013 - 12:09PM

    A great man with great knowledge and experience. He has the capability to administrate the government department and affairs in well form. In short a visionary man…who is devoted to his profession.Recommend

  • Umer
    Mar 30, 2013 - 12:12PM

    What is he making a big fuss over? He’s just trying to project himself.

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  • Salman Hasan
    Mar 30, 2013 - 12:45PM

    Great Job Talat Hussain. I salute your principled stand to protect your professional integrity and disregarded status and benefits. You are my hero. May Allah bless you and keep you protected from these evil planners. Ameen.

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  • Fanta
    Mar 30, 2013 - 12:46PM

    A principled stand by Talat sahib! Kudos!

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  • Mahar
    Mar 30, 2013 - 1:12PM

    He should accept it, Pakistan needs honest/bold spirit, we want new Pakistan, please extend your cooperation to show corrupt people how to run country and don’t leave the ground for incapable, um-educated, dis-honest and corrupt society.

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  • Uza Syed
    Mar 30, 2013 - 1:37PM

    I think by accepting a responsibility such as what Talat Husain says was offered, I think he turned down an opportunity to prove that being in government does not automatically take away or alter character of a person. How can your inherent virtues be compromised merely by being in the corridors of power? Talat Husain should have taken up this job as a challenge and proved to the people here the good things someone with good intent and resolve and yes character can deliver without compromising with greed or tmptations. Too bad, he let it pass up for his personal sense of heroism and self-promotion.

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  • aaaaa
    Mar 30, 2013 - 2:04PM

    @Yoghurt lover:

    Najam Sethi’s appointment has been hailed across the board in Pakistan. There are few people better than him for this job simply because he is the most impartial person around. Its a sign of how far the political process has come that the people who imprisoned him are now the ones who made him CM. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Next time think again, and don’t start typing.

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  • antanu
    Mar 30, 2013 - 2:11PM

    Decision by Mr.Talat reflects that it is easy to criticize but difficult to handle the real problem. this way politicians are justified for their nonperforming attitude. I’d is sad that society is so full of hypocrites… and what it means…that by criticizing a journalist earns his bread… why jeopardize it.

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  • Zeeshan
    Mar 30, 2013 - 2:21PM

    a true professional decision. He is not like Najam Sethi (the american backed journalist) who is now enjoying the CM post. You will see how well he will engineer the election results.

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  • abdul sattar sanai
    Mar 30, 2013 - 2:33PM

    good decision it is election time and we need the independent and unbaised opinions and veiws from these reputed journalists. so well done talat sahib

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  • Mar 30, 2013 - 2:41PM

    Attention Seeker duhh ^_^

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  • Mohammad
    Mar 30, 2013 - 2:42PM

    He is getting and earning more on TV bashing everyone, what Ministry would give him?

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  • Shujah Khan
    Mar 30, 2013 - 2:43PM

    We expect the same from a journalist have a cadre like Talat Hussain. We are proud of you, Talat Hussain.Recommend

  • aaaaa
    Mar 30, 2013 - 2:56PM

    @Village chamyati:

    Najam Sethi was selected CM on the recommendation of a committee of politicians. I don’t get why people keep making non-sensical arguments against his appointment. If the PPP + the PMLN think he’ll do fine in politics, then whats your problem?
    And this was an opportunity lost as far as Talat Hussain is concerned. This is a caretaker government, an apolitical government whose very existence has a one-point agenda: ensuring free and fair elections. so his argument of having to ‘hide things’ doesn’t really hold water. If you’re a capable person, which Talat Hussain certainly is, then whats the harm?a

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  • Saleem
    Mar 30, 2013 - 2:59PM

    Good decision!!!!
    Talat sb,
    You would become soon controversial if you accept it

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  • imran bhatt
    Mar 30, 2013 - 3:06PM

    It is hard to digest for someone who once served as Director of propaganda arm of a dictator to say no to be a minister for information. To me tenure of current offer would have been the real cause of his refusal, if this job offer was real. On his previous assignment as a paid government employee he had to follow the orders without making any policy decision. As Minister for Information he could have been in a position to radically change information policy to leave good legacy for future. If job was actually offered to him and he actually declined it, then it could only be because as a Director PTV he had long and secured tenure with no independence or authority to make any positive contributions and as an Information Minister he would have short tenure but power to formulate information policy of Government of Pakistan and make lasting and positive contributions. Had this news about his rejection come from the people who allegedly offered him position than it would have been more credible. Him receiving a call on his mobile while playing cricket and him refusing it then a there does not sound credible as the source and the beneficiary of this news is the same person. For me since Mr Sethi became CM, I found many disgruntled journalists overtly and covertly venting their anger and professional jealousy against Mr Sethi. And this news is Mr Hussain’s way of telling us what if Sethi became a CM, I too was offered an important portfolio at federal level but I declined.

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  • tassawar
    Mar 30, 2013 - 3:21PM

    Love you talat.

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  • Careless Whispers
    Mar 30, 2013 - 3:25PM

    Way to Go….i am a BIG FAN of Talat Hussain

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  • ssayub
    Mar 30, 2013 - 3:32PM

    The ones – well educated, well groomed and well rounded professionals – like Talat Hussain; do understand nuances like “Conflict of Interest” and have the capability to avoid the pitfalls like becoming Federal Information Minister….. BUT who is having a critical look at people like “Ubiquitous” Najam Sethi solidly rooted in status quo, and still portraying himself as ‘generalist’ – pun intended!!!! and still appearing on “Aapas ke Baat”….. Honorable societies socially boycott these kinds of boot-leggers or carpet beggers….. Let’s see what we do?
    Talat Hussain has cast the first stone, I guess!

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  • Truth detector
    Mar 30, 2013 - 3:48PM

    @Yoghurt lover

    Pakistanis never get anything right.

    Yes, Pakistan should learn from India that has EVERYTHING right, the land of milk & honey, total harmony. A perfect place for women, minorities etc.

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  • Syed A. Mateen
    Mar 30, 2013 - 4:10PM

    Journalist’s and government cannot go together, though journalism is the fourth pillar of the state.

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  • Jibran
    Mar 30, 2013 - 5:11PM

    @imran bhatt:
    Summarized it up nicely.

    Talat Hussain has animosity towards Najam Sethi. What he is trying to suggest here is that he’s bigger than the latter. In actuality, he never received any invitation. And on a phone call? Come on! In fact, I don’t think the caretaker government needs an information minister.

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  • Omz
    Mar 30, 2013 - 5:27PM

    @ahmed:

    Wah!!! Slow claps Bhai, slow claps (sarcasm)

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  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Mar 30, 2013 - 5:42PM

    This attention seeker will regret it if caretaker setup is extended for three more years.Recommend

  • Yasir Mehmood
    Mar 30, 2013 - 6:06PM

    Man people are so jealous of najam sethi haha. I predict a catfight among our journalists in future.

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  • Singh
    Mar 30, 2013 - 7:38PM

    It is time to serve your country with integrity. Don’t hide behind curtain.

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  • Imran Qureshi
    Mar 30, 2013 - 7:40PM

    Excellent, courageous and bold decision, hope more people from different professions will take inspiration from this and follow suite. Seldom, we see such rare examples in our society.

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  • Salman Hasan
    Mar 30, 2013 - 8:20PM

    By accepting this position, he would have become a stooge, agent of the establishment, who will have to follow caretaker government’s agenda. It surprises me how some people are criticizing his decision and making him hypocritical. If the leadership was honest and impartial, he would still not accept that offer. Journalists should remain unbiased and independent in their analysis otherwise they become propaganda machine.

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  • Parvez
    Mar 30, 2013 - 10:38PM

    Bad and cowardly act. Those who criticise should learn to accept responsibility also.

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  • naeem khan Manhattan,Ks
    Mar 31, 2013 - 12:09AM

    PTV has been and is the mouth piece of the government and who ever heads it will be tainted, just look at their biased news and programs and of course in the eyes of Pakistanis PTV never had any credibility. So Talat Hussain borders on hypocrisy, he worked for a military dictator and under his watch PTV was singing the praises of a dictator who came in through the back door with a barrel of gun. Mr.Talat Hussain is a publicity seeker and that is it.

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  • Ahmad
    Mar 31, 2013 - 12:43AM

    Moral of the story don’t be Mushahid Hussain Sayed,

    “Once a journalist enters the realm of government or takes up offices, he loses his credibility. Be it Mushahid Hussain Sayed or any other journalist, they don’t enjoy the same credibility as they once did,” he said.

    Recommend

  • nadeem sudduqui
    Mar 31, 2013 - 12:47AM

    When I heaard the news I was not surprised a man like Talat would never have accepted the ” information ministry” great job Talat

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  • redi
    Mar 31, 2013 - 12:51AM

    ” The philosopher King” is so abstract an idea for a ‘self-propagated-journalists like Talat, that they can not even understand, what it stands for. Picaso once put a picture in the main square of the city with a note to the public to mark what is wrong in it. The next morning, he could not see his painting, because it was hidden beneath the cross-marks. Disappointed, he told a friend of his, the whole story. His friend asked him to make the same painting and put it with a note saying, ” correct the mistake in the painting”. The picture was there for a long time with not a single correction. It’s easy to criticize Talat, than producing something constructive. This, certainly, is not something to be proud of and use it for advertisement. But, then, you believe in advertisement and propaganda alone; the big headlines to make big money. And no one called me to be a part of the interim structure.

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  • New In English
    Mar 31, 2013 - 4:18AM

    I think the post was related to his current post he should have taken that post and do good for country and tell those who he crtisize that’s how to we do the job

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  • Beatle
    Mar 31, 2013 - 9:47AM

    You think he is so insane to accept that offer???
    Earning millions weekly from TV, compared with a few thousands in ministry !!
    By turning down the offer he has become so-called hero in the eyes of some, and prevented the loss of millions to his balance sheet. As it is said in urdeu: Aik Panth, Duo Kaaj.Recommend

  • Humayun
    Mar 31, 2013 - 10:15AM

    Isn’t is the same guy who had Agha Waqar Waterkit Wala on his show and was praising his great invention?? Anyone with atleast one alive brain cell would’ve just ignored that Agha clown and his so called invention just and moved on. But Mr. Hussain here not only wasted one whole show on that idiot but priased Agha Waqar like he was the best thing happend to mankind since sliced bread

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  • waqas
    Mar 31, 2013 - 12:43PM

    @ahmed: Well said

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  • sam
    Apr 1, 2013 - 1:36AM

    @Shahzad:

    True that!

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