Good morning Doctor

Good Morning Pakistan’s host, Dr Shaista Wahidi speaks to City Times on the celebration of her show’s first anniversary

By Asim Qureshi

Published: Tue 20 Oct 2009, 9:00 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 12:17 AM

Pakistan’s favourite television anchor Dr. Shaista Wahidi’s story starts off on a similar note as any urban girl in her country. The Shaista of yesteryear, in her own words, was a young woman who felt she had to compromise to please her family. From marriage and kids in her teens to studying for a lost cause, she became a non-practising doctor to keep up with her parent’s wishes. While this brought the reward of a happy family, destiny had other plans for the now famous TV host.

Out of sheer boredom during her time as a housewife Shaista decided to try her luck by entering a VJ contest for a local FM station. The experience was second to none and eventually helped shape her transition to television. Blessed with an abundance of talent, namely the gift of the gab, Shaista has managed to connect with her audiences at an altogether different level not seen on Pakistani television before. From the public to politicians, cricketers to celebrities, Shaista is undoubtedly the preferred choice of a nation, which is fast catching up to her mantra of positivity and hope.

As her flagship show, Good Morning Pakistan (GMP), celebrates its first anniversary City Times spoke to Dr Shaista as she revealed her innermost thoughts about her journey to stardom and beyond.

Tell us about GMP on ARY, which in one year has become one of their leading programmes. How has the journey been?

GMP is my baby and I am proud of leading it for a year. Yes, it’s challenging hosting and producing as this means looking after the content and participating in the overall planning of the show, but I am ably supported by my production team led by my senior producer Talat Raza. In our team, one thing is very clear that no one is the boss and we all have the right to be heard. It’s a culture I love at ARY and am glad the channel has helped me cultivate a similar environment in the team.

The show is unique because not a single day passes when we don’t receive calls from minister’s wives or affluent families wanting to contribute or help about a certain issue that was discussed on that particular day. It’s very touching because we have a responsibility to society and through GMP we have been able to establish a platform for people to connect and help.

Moreover it is my personal objective to empower the Pakistani woman who desperately needs a voice and practical advice in various facets of her life. We have had fantastic response for introducing new elements like career counselling, medical and skin care advice and summer camps and we intend to keep moving in this direction.

Do you consider yourself an inspiration to women?

I believe in substance. You see it’s not about being a woman or man, it’s about the individual. If you believe in yourself then it becomes a completely different story. The whole world starts to revolve around you once you gain that self confidence. I never wanted to be the usual complaining woman considering that is the most common image of a female in our society. On the contrary, I am a big fan of Rhonda Byrnes’, The Secret, in which the law of attraction states that when you want something you must start believing in it and practice it as if you have it. I have applied this to enhance the power of positivity which people say I resonate but if you ask me I just dislike negative thinking.

Today I can proudly say I am at peace with myself. Besides this discipline is vital, which includes working out and keeping fit to beat stress, being health conscious and eating right. Mind you, all of these don’t come without a strict routine. I was never like this but have evolved with time in order to pursue the goals I have set in my life. I guess it shows and perhaps this is why they look up to me.

Your following is equally popular with male audiences. According to a survey men find you the best looking and most pleasant host. What are your thoughts?

Well it’s a plus point. I am aware of the fact that I am good looking and you are on the money about men watching GMP because of the looks. I see no harm in men liking women on the face of it as long as they are not hypocrites like most men in our society. I am glad they have at least admitted it in that survey but will be happier if they openly talk about their reason for watching others or me on the show whilst sitting next to their wives.

Television is larger than life to those watching at home and hence we do work consciously on the looks and makeovers for all the segments and hosts. For example I work with my designer Ruby Shakeel and stylist Mahjabeen who are responsible for making me look the way I do on the show. At the same time I am known to be choosy as I don’t like wearing loud colours or busy prints.

Your most ardent admirers are politicians, cricketers and celebrities. According to them you are their favourite host because you bring the best out of them. What’s your magic touch?

When someone is invited on my show I make it a point that they are treated as our houseguests including politicians and cricketers who are mostly grilled in interviews. I am fully aware that people want me to take them on and it’s not that I don’t but I just do it in a way which is subtle and humane. One of my memorable interviews was with our current Prime Minister on the eve of his win. My entire focus was on humanising Yousaf Raza the person and not Mr. Gillani the prime minister. To my surprise it took him just one question to start talking about his fondness for Indian films and specially Ashwariya Rai who is an absolute favourite of his, so much so that he used to watch Ash’s movies during his days of imprisonment. Pakistan loved that interview and I got such great feedback even from the critics, which was a pleasant surprise.

Good Morning Pakistan is broadcast 8am-12pm (UAE) on ARY Digital

(With inputs from David Light)

The morning routine for the morning host

Firstly, I wish myself good morning before anyone else does. No matter how clichéd it is, my belief is that you must first learn to love yourself in order to love the world.

My husband is usually late home from work in the evenings as he’s a workaholic but we both make it a point to spend the last hours sharing and catching up. Therefore, I go to bed very late despite the fact that I rise by six every morning. Once I’m up, I look forward to my three precious gems Shaafay, Fayz and Eman. Every day is a beginning full of energy and positivity in my life. As soon as I step out of the house I do a 360° from a devoted mother and a wife to an ambitious producer and host with a responsibility to lead a show, which makes a difference in the lives of millions every day.

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