The Sidra Iqbal Interview: ‘Whatever I do is an Extension of my Personality’

Sidra Iqbal Interview

Sidra Iqbal needs no introduction at all. The award-winning journalist, TV personality, PR Practitioner, Brand Activist, and Youth Development Advocate, Iqbal is an acclaimed name of Pakistan.  In a detailed interview with Fashion Times Magazine,

she spoke at length about her personal life, successful career, credibility of journalism today, influence of social media and exploring new avenues. Presenting an interview we did, to get to know Sidra Iqbal. Read on…



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Fashion Times Magazine (FTM): My first question to you is that how do you manage so many hats successfully?


Sidra Iqbal (SI): I am a very curious person by nature; I get bored by doing the same thing. My mind needs stimulation to the extent that I read two to three books simultaneously. If I would have linked to only one trade it would bore me. The reason behind successfully juggling it all is being quite organized and selective. I only take up projects that I am truly passionate about. As they say, ‘when you do something you enjoy, then you have to not work a single day in your life’. So yeah, whatever I do is an extension of my personality.


(FTM): Was your career charted by design or destiny? How was Sidra Iqbal as a child and growing up?


 (SI): Destiny, for sure. I believe that with every step that we take forward, the master plan is much larger and we are unable to see its true potential. One has to believe that every opportunity and experience adds up. While growing up, I found myself a very curious child. I was outspoken; I truly enjoyed all my co-curricular activities. From public-facing to acting in annual school concerts, to elocution or sports competition, I would participate in all. I was a very gregarious, outspoken and fun-loving child.


(FTM): Talking of journalism, how would you explain to people that a journalist has to get his hands dirty, that a journalist has to talk to all sorts of people to gather information?


(SI): No! I don’t believe in any such thing. It’s a negative connotation that people have attached to journalism. It’s a dignified profession. When you choose to do a story and perform the investigative spadework, you have to look for credible sources. It’s a very demeaning way of putting down your interviewee or sources by saying that one needs to get their hands dirty. It’s a negative way of looking at life. I respect and honor the work I do. I won’t agree to be disrespectful towards the people with whom I engage on a professional basis.


(FTM): Is the overall quality of credible journalists going up or down?


(SI): There are some very credible, hardworking and honest journalists out there. The overall design of how we process information or look for our sources, is now changing and evolving. It’s like that flip that initially people use to get information from the newspapers, radio and television. Now we have moved towards the internet and social media. People are adjusting to this new medium; that is non-conventional and an innovative way of getting information. It may be confusing at times, but it’s overwhelming too. Some of the information sources are a big question mark. Personally, when people say that we have taken a piece of information from Facebook or Twitter; I don’t take them seriously. These aren’t credible sources of information, these are opinions. People are entitled to their opinions but they don’t quote them as publications, serious media, or avenues of journalism.



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(FTM): Are journalists too hard on celebrities?


(SI): Journalism in terms of following any public figure be it a celebrated sports star, politician, or actor is becoming increasingly invasive. We are crossing that line where we aren’t just commenting on their body of work or their professionalism, we are inflicting ourselves on their personal lives. We are very unkind to them if we don’t like the way they dress or the way their last project performed. We can be very uncool, cutthroat in the kind of feedback. It’s about being unkind and unethical. Yes, I do feel that journalists, media and society at large are taking that liberty with celebrated public figures.


(FTM): Can you share some of your memorable moments and achievements from your illustrious career? 


(SI): Well, there are many. I had the pleasure of interviewing various heads of state. The former prime ministers of Pakistan, from Shaukat Aziz, Nawaz Sharif to Yousaf Raza Gillani. Foreign dignitaries, diplomatic mission people and cabinet ministers during my tours to Europe and India. I have also had the good fortune of collaborating for IIFA through my PR firm. Twice in a year, I met the Bollywood glitterati, be it actors, directors and musicians, etc. So yeah, these were a lot of fun moments. I also had the pleasure of meeting royalty, when I attended the world economic forum. I met some of the royal family members of European countries. All of these have been enriching experiences teaching me about life. I hope it continues.



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(FTM): Some of the highlights of your recent work include unlocking the digital potential of Pakistan via Google panel discussion, 16 days of activism for girls to stop gender-based violence, and nurturing the curiosity of STEM Fields to thrive in Pakistan. What are the other major areas you would like to explore and work on?


(SI): I would like to contribute to purposeful content, some of the subjects are not very mainstream and we often debate whether they have space in the television of 2021 in Pakistan or not? There is ample appetite, hunger and demand for projects and subjects of such nature. Many times, the kind of stories and subjects we bring up, we feel that our audience is very dumb to process it. On the contrary, I believe in the intelligence of my viewers and would credit them that they aren’t dumb. I would like to bring intelligent programming for my viewers. I will always take pride in subjects that will help a person grow and learn new ideas.


(FTM): Do you think that the social media platform is punching way above its weight?


(SI): No, I don’t think so. It’s about self-worth; they have a loyal following and are the future. The way we receive and process information is changing. Having said that, more sanitizing and training towards ethics is needed. Social media at times can be ruthless and that is not a great trend. Slander in any form should not be appreciated. Not all but some of them are resorting to unethical and crass practices. It should be weeded out and rejected first and foremost by the consumers themselves. No one can dictate the internet; a lot of high-value systems should come through.



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(FTM): Being a youth development advocate, is the youth today, influenced by social media, developing an opinion on everything under the sun without really knowing anything?


(SI): The quality of answers you receive will be dependent on the kind of questions you will ask. We have the privilege of reading books and stumbling upon wisdom and knowledge. For example, as a child, I wasn’t aware that I had a question in mind, I was reading a book and discovered something. That was the essence of reading. Today, the problem is that young people are driving and forming opinions by ‘googling’ things. So when you search an engine, you are asking a question and the forum is answering your query. Therefore, your growth is hampered. There is no way that you will discover things, you are actively pursuing things and the answer will be only limited to that.



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(FTM): So, you’ll keep doing what you do for 20 more years?


(SI): No. I don’t even do the same thing every week. I am not the same person as I was an hour ago, a week or a month ago. I am passionate about learning new things and exploring new avenues to express myself better.  


Concluding the conversation, we asked Iqbal to share anything with viewers that they might not know about her. She replied, “I am very passionate about cooking. I have been very fond of it from a very early age. I find it very therapeutic. I have a collection of over 35 different cuisine cookbooks. I can make gol rotis (Smiles) If that is something people are wondering.”


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