The launch was announced at a ceremony held at Royal Palm Club on Monday, with former prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif as chief guest. Many social, political and media bigwigs were also present.
Najam Sethi, editor-in-chief of Daily Times and Aaj Kal, said the new newspaper would fulfil the demand of people who wanted an Urdu paper based on the lines of Daily Times. He said Aaj Kal would help set the country’s future direction by giving it a liberal, modern, progressive and democratic look. He said the newspaper would raise the voice for human rights including the rights of businessmen and supremacy of parliament. He said it would also urge the Pakistan Army to return to the barracks.
“It will also be a newspaper of reconciliation, urging an end to the politics of revenge,” he said. Mr Sethi also announced his reconciliation with Nawaz Sharif because “this is a moment when unity and reconciliation rather than division is critical for Pakistan’s survival”. He praised the former prime minister for going to Naudero to pray at Benazir Bhutto’s grave.
Salmaan Taseer, publisher of Daily Times and Aaj Kal, said Aaj Kal would fulfil Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s dream of making Pakistan a liberal, secular and progressive state. He said Aaj Kal would promote a liberal, modern and progressive Pakistan. He said that in this struggle, he had not interfered in the newspaper’s policy or editorial.
“Pakistan has not enjoyed such independence of criticism in newspapers and on television channels,” he said, adding, “This is the time to show unity and to forge Pakistan ahead.”
Imtiaz Alam, prominent journalist and central secretary general of the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA), said it was a tough task for Media Times to launch an Urdu newspaper. He said it was not easy to promote a liberal ideology in a conservative society. He hoped that Aaj Kal would find success in doing so.
Former law minister and prominent lawyer SM Zafar said Aaj Kal was not being launched in Urdu, but in Pakistan’s national language. “It is a matter of pleasure that Media Times has launched its Urdu newspaper, which will attract a large segment of society.”
Former women’s development minister Nilofar Bakhtiar praised and supported the liberal policy of Media Times, saying newspaper groups went from Urdu to English, but this was the first newspaper that moved from English to Urdu because of its demand.