off record
Shaukat Ali Jawaid

Always remember
those who helped
you in difficult times

It was during 1978 that after resigning from my previous job, on the great insistence of my friends and well-wishers in the medical profession, I decided to launch my own medical newspaper. Maintaining quality and standard, protecting my own credibility and ensuring sustainability of the new venture was an uphill task. However, I was lucky that many people came forward to help me.

The paper supplier said, I can make payment after two months, printing press agreed to give credit period of a month and this important issue was resolved to some extent. I purchased an old German Typewriter for thirteen hundred rupees, a table and a chair for two thousand five hundred rupees while a doctor friend Prof. M. Jalisi said, he does his clinic only in the evening, hence I can use his clinic as office space during the day during the initial period that is how I made a humble beginning and started this medical publications business.

Soliciting advertisement for a new medical newspaper was not so easy. However, there were a few friends who came to help me. Mr. Tariq Ismail in Squibb released an advertisement in the very first issue, late Mr. Habibur Rehman from Optical Palace booked the front page panel. When I went to see late Mr. A.R. Puri Marketing Manager in Ciba-Geigy, he asked me, just let me know why I should release the advertisement of my company in a newspaper which has yet to start publication and what is the guarantee that it is going to survive? Despite the fact that we knew each other quite well, I appreciated his approach and pointed out that having a rich experience of about a decade running a medical newspaper, I am confident that I will make it a success and it won’t take much time to establish it as one of the best read medical newspaper in the country. After some hectic bargaining on advertisement rates, he agreed to release Ciba-Geigy advertisements on a trial basis.

My next visit to explore business was to Pfizer Laboratories. I met Mr. Mushfiq Siddiqui Marketing Director. He also called his Marketing Manager to the meeting. During the discussion, his Marketing Manager was a bit reluctant but Mr. Mushfiq Siddiqui told him, listen, I have known this gentleman now for some time. I am confident that he will be a success story. After few months, he may not need our business so desperately that he needs today. We should help him today and he will remember us and it will also ensure his good relations with our company in the days to come. He was so kind and order to release Full Page Advertisement despite a very reluctant Marketing Manager who was not at all interested but he had to obey the orders of his boss.

Mr. Afeef Khan Marketing Manager in Searle and Mr. Noorwala from Pacific Research Lab. also extended valuable help by releasing a very small advertisement. For me it was not the size of the advertisement and money which was important but enlisting another advertiser was significant. It took just two months that the paper became self-sufficient. We were having enough business to survive and the situation continued to improve with the every passing day. The intellectual capital that I had accumulated over the last ten years was my real asset. On the editorial side I had no problem at all. Readership of the publication increased and we were able to make a successful entry in the field of medical journalism. I still remember the words of late Mr. Mushfiq Siddiqui who I have learnt passed away a few years ago. I remember all those friends and always pray for them and acknowledge their help and assistance.

In 1984 I realized that there was a need to have a medical journal which should help the busy physicians to keep them abreast of latest developments in the field of Medicine. Hence, I got a declaration in the name of “Specialist” and decided that each of its issue will be devoted to a particular specialty. The contents will include invited papers, good reviews, something which will help the physicians improve their practice, improve patient care, and refresh their knowledge.

Hence the first issue was devoted to Cardiovascular Diseases. I approached my very dear friend and an eminent cardiologist of Pakistan late Dr. Ali Muhammad Chaudhry in Hyderabad and he accepted my invitation to be the Guest Editor for this first issue. We prepared a list of topic, identified authors from Pakistan and overseas and sent them invitation letters. I remember one cardiologist from United States, asked how much he will be paid. This was something very new for me and I decided to excuse and withdrew the invitation. That is also for the first time I came to know how the Americans are the most materialistic society on earth who always think in terms of dollars all the time.

I used to select a Guest Editor for every issue and we published over two dozen issues all devoted to a particular specialty and covered Dermatology, Geriatric Medicine, Paediatric, Community Medicine, Plastic Surgery, Psychiatry, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Chest Diseases, Diabetes etc., some of the specialties were covered more than once. Then a time came that getting papers for such special issues became extremely difficult. It was in those days that I also realized the medical profession and the young researchers in particular needed a good medical journal to publish their research work. There were only a few journals in Pakistan, the waiting period for the authors was too long and often it was a very frustrating experience for the authors to wait for acceptance and publication of their manuscripts. There was a need hence I decided to convert the journal to a general medical journal which would accept papers in different categories for publication i.e. original articles, reviews, case reports, brief communications, and so on. This initiative was welcomed by the medical profession but financially it was not a viable proposition. However, I continued its publication subsidizing it from the funds generated from the medical newspaper and it went on for well over fifteen years.

Late Dr. Maqbool H. Jafary our founder Chief Editor and a large number of eminent medical personalities who have served or continue to serve as Members of the Editorial Board, International Advisors have remained a great source of strength. Their guidance and assistance was invaluable in the success of the journal. Office staff was hard working and their contributions were appreciated and acknowledged from time to time in different ways.,

As the number of submissions increased, in order to increase its visibility and ensure much greater readership, we decided to go online. This proved to be a great success. It not only increased the visibility, readership but also resulted in much more submissions even from overseas. To generate funds, we also decided to introduce publication charges which were increased gradually. After another few years the journal became self-supporting. In the Year 2000, it was decided to change the title of the journal for which one of our valued reviewers Prof.H.R. Ahmad Professor of Physiology at Aga Khan University was very keen and had been insisting for the last many years. The title selected was Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences and the first issue of January-March 2000 was published with the new title after getting necessary permission from the Government of Pakistan. The title of the newspaper was also changed to Pulse International from January 1st 2020. I just made phone calls to a few friends in the pharmaceutical trade and industry informing them about the change in the titles of the publications. They said it was immaterial for them, they knew me and it does not make any difference to them. Hence both the publications with new name became an instant success. Mr. Haseeb Khan and Mrs. Qaiser Rahman from Brookes Pharmaceuticals, M. Saeed Allahwala from Atco Laboratories were of great help.

As the cost of production was increasing with every passing day, I decided to seek sponsorship of the journal website to raise some funds. I approached a friend owner of a pharmaceutical company who immediately agreed. However, I asked him to discuss the issue with the marketing team as I did not want to bypass them. The feedback he got was not so enthusiastic hence I asked him let us forget about it. Then I had a chance meeting with Mr. Haroon Qassim from PharmEvo at a function. When I explored the possibility of sponsoring the Pak J Med Sci website by PharmEvo he was very enthusiastic, agreed immediately and asked me to see Syed Jamshed Ahmed to discuss the details. Hence PharmEvo sponsored the journal website and it helped us a great deal. There was a time that we used to subsidize the cost of production of the journal from the funds generated from Pulse International and now time has come that we are subsidizing the publication of Pulse International through the funds generated from Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences.

At present Pulse International remains the most widely read medial newspaper among the healthcare professionals and all others affiliated with the health sector while Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences has emerged as one of the most widely read peer reviewed journal from Pakistan. By the Grace of God Almighty it now attracts manuscripts from over fifty countries with special focus on South East Asia and Asia-Pacific. It earned Impact Factor in -2009, is one of the three medical journals from Pakistan which has Impact Factor. As per Journal Citation Report released by Clarivate Analytics of USA our current Impact Factor is 1.088 while the five years Impact Factor is 1.276. This is for the first time that in 2021 any medical journal from Pakistan has achieved another important landmark of crossing the Impact Factor-1. It would not have been possible without the patronage, help and assistance of members of the Editorial Board, International Advisors, valued peer reviewers not to forget the authors and readers. It was a team work and we continue to further improve the quality of manuscripts accepted for publication and standard of the journal. We have always maintained that IF is not the only one but one of the important criteria’s to judge the standard of a journal.

We remain grateful to all those who helped us in our initial days while we were struggling and remember them all the time, pray for their long life, good health, happy and prosperous future.

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