ISLAMABAD - Pakistan is better known for bombs than bombshells, militant compounds than opulent estates. A few enterprising Pakistanis hope to alter that perception with the launch of a local version of the well-known celebrity magazine Hello!.
They plan to profile Pakistan's rich and famous: the dashing cricket players, voluptuous Bollywood stars and powerful politicians who dominate conversation in the country's ritziest private clubs and lowliest tea stalls.
"The side of Pakistan that is projected time and time again is negative," said Zahraa Saifullah, the CEO of Hello! Pakistan. "There is a glamorous side of Pakistan, and we want to tap into that."
But celebrating the lives of Pakistan's most prosperous citizens is not without its critics in a country where much of the population lives in poverty. Advertising one's prosperity could be risky since kidnappings are on the rise and attracting attention from Islamist militants can mean death.
Wajahat Khan, a consulting editor at Hello! Pakistan, said editors were cognizant of the sensitivity of publishing a glamour magazine in a conservative Muslim country where many people are struggling and planned to be "socially responsible and culturally aware." Khan said they would do everything they could to protect the security of the people they profile, but he wasn't overly concerned.
Hello! was launched in 1988 by the publisher of Spain's Hola! magazine and is now published in 150 countries. It's well-known for its extensive coverage of Britain's royal family. Hello! Pakistan will be published once a month and will cost about $5.50, twice as much as what many poor Pakistanis earn in a day.