For the last year or so the print scene in Pakistan has gotten quite dull, with the same coterie of writers spitting out the same old tilted diasporas in column after column the general public and specially the educated youth of the country have been yearning for an imaginative, focused and liberal read for some time. The green kaleidoscope provides them with just that, with authors and columnists which are as offbeat as the topics they write on it has certainly in its 9 issues proved to be more of a sensation, it has become something of an underground revolution. This is why we at Dpan caught up with the creators of â€œTGKâ€ Sonya Rehman & Uzair Khan for a little chat.
1) Tell me about the birth of tgk why you and uzair made this venture how you came up with the name and who does what in this webzine?
Uzair and myself initiated TGK because we felt there werenâ€™t many e-zines out there which were truly devoted to Pakistanis. We wanted to create a portal where Pakistanis could pen articles about a plethora of topics related to their home country.
Besides, we also wanted to make a bit of a statement to be honest; to (as cliched as this may read) smash all those ridiculous stereotypes about Pakistanis being mad little barbarians!
2) How effective do u think a webzine is in catering to a country where only maybe 10 % have net access?
I think a little more than 10% have net access in Pakistan given the preponderance of cyber cafes in the country. But youâ€™re right – those dwelling in the rural areas who comprise of more than half of the Pakistani population cannot read or write.
But look at it this way, atleast that 10% IS being catered to. Also, TGK not only caters to Pakistanis, but it also targets a foreign audience.
Before TGKâ€™s initiation we spread the word amongst our friends and acquaintances regarding the need for credible, honest and passionate Pakistani writers.
Anyone can be a writer. Itâ€™s easy. If you know English and have an opinion, TGK will feature your work. And our current writers understand that. Initially a few were very nervous about their work, but we nudged them on, andÂ encouragedÂ them.
We also make it a point to reach out to spunky Pakistanis via Facebook and otherwise, to write for us. The more diverse the opinions, the better. The clearer the â€˜pictureâ€™.
4) What kind of a difference are you trying to make and what do you think has been achieved?
Weâ€™re trying to save the world.
No, on a serious note, TGK aspires to make a difference – no matter how great or small – Â to offer Pakistanis a darn good â€˜releaseâ€™, and to offer the West a birdâ€™s eye view into the hearts and minds of the wide cross-section of Pakistanis at home and across the world.
Weâ€™ve gotten some press coverage, I suppose that counts for something. Also, weâ€™ve had some foreigners writing in, both commending TGKâ€™s content, and wanting to write for us.
Achievement regarding our main goals will be an ongoing thing. The minute we think weâ€™ve nailed it, thatâ€™s when weâ€™re in trouble!
You bet. To a small extent, it stands as the voice of the Pakistani youth today. Weâ€™re due out with our 9th issue on the 14th of May, and if you look at our archives section, you will notice that weâ€™ve featured scores of different writers for each edition.
A print version in the future? Most certainly.
6)What kind of a response has tgk gotten internationally and in pakistan?
To run any business one needs time and a solid, 5-year plan – atleast. Since both Uzair and myself do TGK on the side and since we havenâ€™t made any money off it, we havenâ€™t had the time to really sit down and get ourselves marketed effectively.
When we started TGK all of us were in-between jobs, caught up in our personal lives. And now, this summer, both Uzair and I leave for grad school. Uzairâ€™s off to Paris, while Iâ€™ll be off to New York. But weâ€™re committed – with all our hearts – to keep TGK running even while weâ€™re in the midst of our Masters degrees. It has become a major part of our lives.
That being stated, internationally, we havenâ€™t gotten any coverage yet. But weâ€™re hoping to change that once weâ€™re abroad. In Pakistan weâ€™ve been featured in Sunday (Daily Times), Lifestyle (Daily Times), City News (The News International), in the International Journalistâ€™s Network, The Saturday Post, and interviewed on a show on Radio 1 FM 91.
7) Often we hear print journos say online zines and blogs have no credibility what would your response be to them?
Theyâ€™re right. But I ask them this; what credibility do some of the largest media houses have? Think FOX NEWS forÂ Peteâ€™sÂ sake.
Every journalist, newspaper, TV channel, radio station, magazine, e-zine etc has its own agenda.
Sadly the media industry is never black and white. To have an opinion, one carries a bit of bias. Itâ€™s natural. But how one balances facts with the personal opinion is what truly matters at the end of the day.
Being the undergroundish type of webzine tgk feels like do you think more risque topics which trouble our youth can be written on?
You bet. We have no issues with any topic – no matter how risky, as long as it makes sense, is not blasphemous and carries no personal agenda.
9) Why is tgk once a month only? This is the age of digital everything so why not weekly?
Why not daily! Funny you should ask that. Weâ€™ve been asked to make it â€˜liveâ€™ recently, by updating our content on a daily basis. But we need to be realistic. Since both us editors leave this summer for intensive Masters programs, I doubt weâ€™d have the time nor energy to make TGK a daily or a weekly.
Right now, the only option is to sustain it as a monthly. Then of course, God-willing once weâ€™re back on the mother ship, we plan on making TGK a print publication, and maybe even a live e-zine.
10) What would your message be to the world?
Keep fighting the good fight.