Before I move into the subject of the fall of Kohistan, I will throw light on the strategy I had developed to promote the newspaper in the advertising market of Karachi.
Despite the fact that Kohistan was the biggest newspaper of the Northern West Pakistan, the people of Karachi were largely unaware of its position.
To make the newspaper better known in Karachi I started putting in small advertisements on the front pages of the eveningers— particular The Leader which was owned by Fakhar Matri.
I am recalling here the regular content of these advertisements.
“The combined circulation of Daily Kohistan yesterday stood at 92790 copies.”
Three days later the figures used to change.
“The combined circulation of Daily Kohistan yesterday stood at 94, 387 copies.”
The idea was to create a perception that here was a newspaper that was constantly on the rise.
I also acquired a hoarding site on the outer wall of the railway line just opposite to New Chali.
The message on the bill-board I remember was:
“Daily Kohistan. The Newspaper that dares to be different.
Published simultaneously from Rawalpindi, Lahore and Multan the average daily circulation last month was: 91500 copies”.
This strategy of creating awareness worked in a big way. Soon Daily Kohistan started getting into every media plan of the advertisers and the advertising agencies.
A marketing tactic that I adopted became a great source of discomfort to Kohistan’s main competitor in the Punjab— Daily Nawai Waqt.
I seldom made a claim that Kohistan was number one in the Punjab. I always contended that Daily Imroze was number two. This contention of mine used to infuriate Nawai Waqt’s manager in Karachi.
“It is unfair Akbar Sahib,” he often used to phone me angrily.” You have every right to claim to be number one, but why are you telling the people that Nawai Waqt is behind even Imroze?”
“If I establish that Nawai Waqt is behind even Imroze, I am left with virtually no competitor,” I used to tell him.
My success as a marketing man can be gauged from the fact that when I had taken over as Karachi’s Resident Representative, the average monthly billing stood at barely Rs. 10,500; and in six months the billing rose to Rs. 1,40,000.
My performance largely contributed to substantial improvement in the financial health of the newspaper. When the company declared profit, the first difference of opinion occurred among the Board of Directors. Let me state here that on Enayatuallah Sahib’s proposal, I too had been made a Director of the company.
The difference of opinion was on what to do with the profit. Enayatuallh Sahib’s opinion was that a large chunk of the profit should be distributed among the workers as bonus Hadn’t they worked hard to raise the newspaper’s fortunes from ground zero to impressive heights?
The other point of view was that those who had been investing in the company in either the form of the Capital or loans, deserved to be paid dividend at last. The leaders of this point of view were Mian Rasheed, a small landowner of Lahore, and Mir Murad Khan Jamali. They were supported by two other directors— Raja Zauq Akhtar and Haji Sarbland Khan. As they were all regarded as Mamoon Jan Nasim Hijazi’s men, the company suddenly stood divided into two groups. All that was happening at Lahore. I grew helplessly aware of the sudden divide. I had reasons to believe that my cousin, and Mamoon Jan’s eldest son Khalid Nasim had played a pivotal role in creating cracks in the relationship between Mamoon Jaan and Enayatuallah Sahib.
I really felt sorry for Khalid who apart from being my cousin had been a dear friend since childhood. I had no idea that he had been harbouring a grudge against me in his heart for the simple reason that Mamoon Jan had always given me great importance, and now Enayatuallah Sahib had chosen to become my promoter. My elevation to the status of the Company’s Director wouldn’t have been possible without Enayat Sahib’s affectionate patronization. He had transferred the necessary qualification shares to me from his own account.
He had his own nephew too— Afzal Haq whose elder brother Ijazul Haque had been General Manager of Kohistan till about two years before my induction. Both Khalid Nasim and Afzal Haque were ignored in my favour when the issue of filling a vacancy on the Board of Directors had come up. Afzal Haque unfortunately was to die young of a rare disease. His widow in the years to follow was to get married to Enayatullah Sahib. I’ll take up this part of the story later in the book. Let me state here a few sympathetic words for Khalid Nasim who being Mamoon Jan’s eldest son had harboured probably a genuine desire to become Nasim Hijazi’s deserved successor.
Enayat Sahib however had other ideas.
“Great organizations, Nasim Sahib retain their greatness not through normal successorship, but through continuity of merit and talent. I think your nephew has it in him,” I had overheard Enayat Sahib telling Mamoon Jan once.
It was Habib ur Rahman Chapta who first pointed out to me that my relations with Khalid could get sour because of Enayat Sahib’s visible inclination towards me.
“You have been given full Editor’s grade as per the Wage Board Award Akbar Sahib which will not go well with Khalid Sahib who is drawing half your salary in the Press,” Chapta once told me.
“I can’t be blamed for that Habib Sahib,” I replied to him.
Soon after I was to learn that there had been a secret connection between Chapta and Khalid Sahib ever since Enayat Sahib had returned from the U.K.
I was greatly disturbed in mind. On the one side was Nasim Jijazi my Mamoon and my ideological hero— and on the other side the man whose vision and hard work had built Kohistan into a formidable force, and who was both my mentor and benefactor.
And my sixth sense was telling me that a situation was fast taking shape in which I had to choose between the two. It was an option that made chills run down my spine. There was simply no way I could desert my uncle. And not deserting him meant an open confrontation with the man who had in less than a year transformed my life in quite a revolutionary way.
It was in this state of mind that I thought of involving both the late Mohammad Mushtaq of National Advertising and the late CA Rauf of Lintas International in the matter.
C.A Rauf had enormous respect for Mamoon Jan, but was a great admirer of Enayat Sahib.
He was shocked when I took him into confidence about the rapidly developing feud between the two builders of Daily Kohistan.
He took no time in making up his mind to intervene. He consulted Mushtaq Sahib too on a possible course of action. Both of them, whose affection and admiration I had come to enjoy, flew to Lahore with one mission in mind—SAVE KOHISTAN.
In fact two more quick trips on their part were needed before Rauf Sahib called me to his office.
“I have a good news for you Akbar,” he said to me with a smile. “They both have agreed to resolve the differences through arbitration. And the arbitrator’s role will be played by Sheikh Hamid Mahmood the ex-Managing Editor of Nawai Waqt.”
“Arbitration ! Why arbitration? Couldn’t they sit down together and talk out a solution between themselves?” I said bitterly.
“I understand your sentiments”, Rauf Sahib said. “That would have been ideal. But I have a feeling Nasim Sahib is not being advised by right persons. Don’t worry. I have faith in Sheikh Hamid Mahmood. One decision has already been made. Your special correspondent here is being transferred to Lahore with immediate effect. Enayat Sahib wants him to stay under his direct scrutiny and control. Is he such a mischief-maker Akbar?”
Rauf Sahib’s reference was towards Habib ur Rahman Chapta.