It is important that we use our platform to raise a voice against intolerance and patriarchal control, says Abdullah Sultan, who anchors Pakistan’s pioneering morning show GEO Pakistan along with cohost Huma Amir Shah.
Sultan started his career in 2008 as a newscaster with the Lahore-based City 42. He soon moved on to hosting his own shows and, after a few iterations, landed at GEO News with GEO Pakistan. The Truth International (TTI) had a one-on-one with him for our readers. The following is an abridged transcript of the conversation.
TTI: As a morning show host, what motivates you to wake up every morning and do a two-hour show?
AS: I consider myself one of those lucky ones who are doing what they always wanted to do in their professional life and that is why I love my job. Also the constant positive feedback I receive from our viewers on different social media platforms is like the cherry on top. I have been doing this show for years now and with our hard work and consistency, we are number one. All these things keep me quite motivated.
Since I wake up early morning for my show every day so now it has become one of my good habits. Now I am a morning person and if someday I skip waking up early, I feel I have wasted a significant productive part of my day. Besides other economic factors, it is our job so all this positive energy around helps keep our spirit high.
TTI: When you graduated, which field did you want to join first?
AS: I wanted to join TV from the beginning and I knew this since my school days even though the concept of private television channels did not exist back then. I graduated in 2010 and I knew my destination was a TV channel. Even before graduating with my degree of bachelors in Business Administration, I started working in the Lahore based TV Channel City42.
My mother wanted me to get a professional degree which is why I opted for Business Administration. On the other hand, I knew since childhood that I would end up being on TV because I had always been into public speaking. I would be on stage at every event in school, college, and university.
TTI: What would you be if you were not a television host?
AS: If I wasn’t a TV show host, I would either be a teacher or a professor. In the end, it had to be something related to public speaking.
TTI: Every channel has its own morning show. How do you feel about the competition and how do you manage to stand out?
AS: I would like to rephrase your question: Every channel has its GEO Pakistan. When any news channel starts to plan their morning show, they plan to start another GEO Pakistan. We were the pioneers and we are the leaders. Also, I believe that everyone is doing great in their own capacity. Although I find little opportunity to watch other shows because all morning shows on TV channels go on air at the same time but we too, at times, get to learn a lot from them. I want to wish everyone the best of luck for doing their shows. Personally, I believe that the duo on Hum TV is doing a great job and their show has a very presentable screen.
TTI: What are the major topics that you enjoy the most including in your program?
AS: I like including social issues the most and particularly those issues that are difficult to discuss on such platforms. For example, issues arising from the patriarchal systems we live in – like women’s rights, Aurat March, and child abuse. Most often when we talk about these issues, we have to face nasty criticism and ugly backlash from a specific segment of society. But it is highly important to talk about these issues because our conversations will set things up for the next generations to talk about. Therefore, if we are not outspoken about it today and refrain from calling a spade a spade, our next generations will have no awareness and no conscientious position on these grievous issues.
I also prefer to raise a voice on issues like intolerance and polarization in our society and how our opinions are getting more and more extreme. For example, if a few women march streets with some placards, there are people who feel entitled to slinging all kinds of muck at them. If you take a careful look, some groups have a deliberate strategy of smearing people and groups in a way they would be open to lynching without a legal trial. These practices should never be normalized.
TTI: Who’s the most talkative and who gets irritated first, you or Huma Shah? AS: Although I guess that Huma is more talkative but it also depends on certain
situations because I sometimes find myself talking way more than her. But there is a balance between us. Also, I guess Huma get easily irritated more than I do.
TTI: You guys must have received many offers from other channels, any specific reason for sticking with GEO?
AS: I think the best response to this question would be, “GEO is GEO”. That’s why other offers don’t matter much but also because GEO is like a family which is why we have been here for a very long time. Except for that, let’s see what the future holds for us.
TTI: What are your future plans, any clothing brand or YouTube channel in the pipeline?
AS: Our future plans do not include a clothing line but instead, we have started our business of interior design named Home Edit by Huma Abdullah. Currently, we are working on that. A few exciting projects are in the pipeline and we have done a few projects as well, but for now, it’s Home Edit by Huma Abdullah.