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Pakistanis Say 'Hello' To Wealth And Celebrity

Consulting editor Wajahat Khan (left), CEO and publisher Zahraa Saifullah (center), and chief copywriter Rayan Khan (right) discuss the launch of a Pakistani edition of "Hello" magazine at a press conference in Islamabad.
The restive Pakistani city of Karachi has more of a reputation for ethnic violence and high murder rates than it does for glitz and glamour.

But the troubled town enjoyed a sprinkle of stardust this week with the launch of a local edition of "Hello" magazine.

The glossy publication announced its arrival with a four-day fashion show that was attended by many local luminaries.

The original English edition of "Hello," which was launched in 1988, is known for its lavish coverage of Britain's royal family and other high-profile celebrities. It made headlines around the world in 2006 when it paid $3.5 million for exclusive pictures of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's newborn twins.

This latest version of the magazine will typically provide glamorous coverage of Pakistan's elite but editor Mahvesh Amin hopes it will also highlight aspects of life in the country that are not covered in the international media.

"We have a thriving television industry, an emerging literary scene -- and we have a very strong art scene," she told the BBC. "We're going to tap into all of these as well as others -- politicians, businessmen, sports figures -- and cover them as personalities."

Nonetheless, given "Hello's" occasionally racy content, some Pakistanis have expressed their disquiet at the magazine going on sale in what is a deeply conservative country.

Some Pakistanis have criticized "Hello" for being un-Islamic.
Some Pakistanis have criticized "Hello" for being un-Islamic.
"Such magazines promote and perpetuate ideologies that aren't inherently Islamic, that aren't part of our culture," said religious leader Munawar Bawany in the same BBC article. "I would be concerned about the effect it may have on young people."

Consulting editor Wajahat Khan is keen to play down such fears, however, saying that the magazine would be "socially responsible and culturally aware."

Given that Pakistan has low literacy rates even in Urdu, it is not certain whether an English-language version of "Hello" can find a market in Pakistan, but it should at least do well among the country's huge expatriate populations in the United Kingdom and the Middle East.

Some have also jokingly suggested that Pakistan's numerous kidnap gangs are another market segment that might buy the magazine. After all, "Hello's" detailed coverage of the country's rich and famous means it could be very useful as a catalog of potential targets!

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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