Reading newspapers, magazines and other treatise for competitive exams, such as CSS, PMS and PCS paves the way for inculcating skills of comprehensive study, developing creative writing skills ,and building innovative approach. This synergetic, complementing activity tends to make readers discover a whole new world of diversity, new, well-defined lexical items, new phrases and new ideas.
Dawn daily newspaper is termed as the Bible for CSS in Pakistan given the fact it espouses liberal, inclusive and objective journalism. The FPSC-the Vatican of examination bodies within the country –favors inclusive views and critical responses on different issues of political, economic and social configuration. This could be developed from studying a wide array of neutral literature and disinterested intellectual outputs rather than relying on regurgitated, outmoded materials.
II. Think about what you want to know in newspapers
• The first thing is to ascertain why you are reading extra materials other than syllabus books
• The second thing is do you read with a specific purpose- extrinsically or intrinsically?
• Do you read just for satisfying routine instinct to kill time?
• What do you want to know after you have read multiple sources?
These questions are important to understand. They will make you more dynamic in approach.
III. Syllabus-based newspaper study
Before candidates start newspaper reading, it is pertinent to clarify that beginners must keep CSS and PMS syllabi in front of them while reading the newspaper. Because random, unplanned reading can render the whole exercise of reading newspaper futile and unproductive; understanding syllabus would help concentrate on areas of importance. Majority of the topics of both optional and compulsory papers carry immense resemblance with newspapers.
IV. Importance of newspaper reading in CSS and PMS exams
No one can deny the fact of reading newspaper for CSS. It helps CSS aspirants in the following way:
• It bolsters critical reading of aspirants
• It enriches collocation-oriented vocabulary
• It imparts useful information on politics and economies
• It polishes general knowledge
• It keeps student abreast of major developments of country and the world
• It makes aspirants’ writing skill mature and prolific
• It prepares students for the final viva and as a good orator
• It helps in forming judgment on public affairs of immediate concern
V. Long-term and meaningful Influence of Newspapers
In the long run, it develops diversity and multiplicity of opinion: Speaks at all times and to all classes and as a result shape and control public opinion.
VI. WHY newspapers, especially the OP-ED in newspaper difficult
Students in class always raise this pesky question: Sir, Newspaper reading is too difficult to understand properly. It is due to the following two reasons:
• Insufficient, low knowledge about given topics
• Lack of sound vocabulary and structures
VII. Two-pronged strategy of reading newspaper in less time
• Focusing single-handedly on important areas
• Just keep on filtering and skimming over irrelevant and non-priority pages
VIII. Time-tested, highly recommended tips for reading newspaper
A. Dawn newspaper
Page 1: Country’s and sometimes global news
• Deals with the nation approximately. Focus on Supreme Court and high courts verdicts parliamentary debates, government orders,ordinances,acts ,legislations and executive orders
• This section tends to elaborate the vital points first, the most important information is presented first, so try not to study whole and center on the cruxes in first paragraphs
• I n a bid to take stock of the overall news, speed-read through the news headlines.
• It is advised to not waste too much time on the front page
Pages 2 to 7: National pages -Central National, South National, National North and province specific
• These pages usually transmit only regional news (which varies from city to city)
• Not fundamentally important from CSS and PMS exam point of view
• If one keeps abreast of the latest trends one can skip these pages
Pages 8 and 9: Editorial Page
The most important page of ‘The Dawn’ newspaper from CSS and PMS Exam perspective.
This page contains a variety of academically important pieces of writing. Why these pages are important?
• They broadening your knowledge base
• Refining language skills
• Help in holistically understanding key issues
• They tend to put emphasis more on analysis than facts
Note: Try to finish everything up to this page within 1:30 minutes.
Page 10 and 11: Business
• Concentrate on major trends
• It is necessary to dissect growth parameters and other issues. Read issues connected with fiscal and monetary policies and their relevance in terms of critical sectors of governance
• Try to understand key socio-economic issues related to women, education or health. This reading will bolster evidentiary knowledge base
Page 12 and 13: World affairs and their influence on domestic issues
• useful for the International Relations
• major happenings
Dawn Books and Authors
This section of Dawn covers domestic, regional and global issues of great import. If aspirants only rely on recommended books, they gloss over very vital information .To overcome this anomaly, one must go through this edition properly. The following articles are taken from the old editions, you can Google them for understanding their significance.
1. Review of The Judiciary of Pakistan
2. COVER STORY: Review of Little America: The War within the War for Afghanistan
3. REVIEW: Arab Spring — before & after
4. Review of Indigenous Roots of Feminism: Culture, Subjectivity and Agency
Topics like I have given below are published in in-depth section of Dawn.If you read the given titles, you will be in a better position to decode that majority of the topics in this section cover both compulsory and optional subjects. It is better to first search the following articles so that you decode their relevance.
1. Survey results: Who has been Pakistan’s best ruler?
2. Special report: Sexual harassment in workplaces in Pakistan
3. The Fata merger: Towards a brave new world
4. Exclusive: The CPEC plan for Pakistan’s digital future
Islamic Study/Islamyat related topics-Friday Feature in Dawn and Javed Ahmad Ghamidi’s Al-Mawrid or Renaissance and Pakistan Observer
Islamic Studies in CSS requires up-to-date approach and critical perspective. Due to globalization, islamophobia, emrgence of new challenges and fundamental need of re-interpretation of traditional laws, Dawn Friday features present a unique source of knowledge base on these pressing issues.The following writers in Dawn write articles related to Islamyat.
1. Amin Valliani
2. M.Ali Musafer
3. Qasim A. Moni
4. Nikhat Sattar
5. Khalid Zaheer
7. Kashif Shahzada
8. Jan-E-Alam Khaki
9. Eng.Asghar Ali
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi’s Al-Mawrid or Renaissance
J.A.Ghamidi’s views are quite balanced and apposite. On controversial issues, he presents very logical debate. He should be listened to, adopting his views is another phenomenon .He does not negate ideology, but proposes a different methodology to achieve the fundamental ideology. As a matter of faith,the religious bigots term him misguided but based on my first-hand experience ,he is a very balanced intellectual.
B. Daily Times daily newspaper
Why Daily Times is more important for CSS
The Pakistani daily English newspaper, Daily Times, is a unique edition to the poor English journalism in Pakistan .Most importantly its editor, Raza Rumi,was one of the top civil servants of Pakistan ,but due to some unavoidable circumstances he left civil services and moved to the US where he teaches and contributes to international editions of well reputed media outlets. He has divided the newspaper as per CSS aspirants’ needs. Based on my personal experience, I will recommend Daily Times very strongly. What Daily Times makes different from other newspapers is its perspectives, features and commentaries sections which are rational write-ups.
Why Daily Times is unique?
Because it carries Opinions, Perspectives, Commentaries, Letters and Features on daily basis.
C. The News International daily Newspaper
The News International Sunday
TNS-The News International Sunday edition reading is a must. The following are some of the topics I have taken from that section. They cover all the compulsory and optional subjects to greater extent.You can google the following topics and can decode their significance.
• How enduring is the Indian democracy
• Afghan peace and regional actors
• Economic troubleshooting
• Inclusive education
IX. Notes taking techniques: How to take notes from newspapers and magazines for CSS study
Try your level best to focus on the following areas .
Economy and Business
• Iron-clad details of the latest budget, latest trends in macroeconomic indicators like inflation, GDP, latest business mergers and acquisitions
• All the financial entities and new appointments of head of business
• New laws, bills and constitutional amendments
• Recently held or upcoming elections
• Recently launched schemes by the Union Government.
• Names of any new appointees at high positions in the executive, legislature and judiciary.
• Conflicts like Kashmir and Palestine
• National elections and international elections and their impacts
• Regional treaties, pacts and alliance
• Global bilateral and multilateral meetings and their agendas
• Salient facts and vital developments related to Pakistan’s foreign relations, economic ties, political conflicts, bilateral and multilateral relations
• Major happenings and new technological developments
• Important international days like the labor ,press and world environment day
Facts and figures
They are related to GDPs, defence,economies and trade volumes .
X. Maintain a book where you note down any difficult words you come across
• To be systematic and different, note down the key-points in a paper
• By applying either deductive or inductive approach ,try to form the central theme of the passage(This will help you in précis writing)
• For clinical absorption of substance ,tackling any unknown words is important
XI. Time allocated for newspapers-At least 3 hours daily
Personally, as a beginner I spent four hours daily on newspaper reading
XII. Know deeply to study the material
1. Surface study –Little need of reading materials due to background knowledge and recent readings
2. Deep study –Extensive need because issues at hand are of immense importance and tend to call for hard work
Keep striking balance between the two aspects.
XIII. Active reading strategies
The following to salient features should be made important pillars of one’s study because they help in internalizing information in your mind and help you to review important points later.
• Highlighting and underlining key information
• Taking notes (Detailed notes, short notes, bullet points )
XIV. Make your own table of contents
Instead of reading randomly and without clear format in mind and in practice, it is better to compile a breakdown and a list of topic graded in terms of significance and understanding .Better to include those issues which are difficult for you. It has two advantages:
1. Will helps you address your own questions
2. Will make you think about what you’re expecting to learn from the text
XV. Use glossaries with technical documents
It is pertinent to highlight that key terminologies and concepts should be listed in a comprehensive way. Examples could be words like:plea bargain,balance of payments,trade deficit,globalization,gender and sex, harse treading, ordinance, judicial activism,suo motu, etc.
• They include difficult technical material, it may be useful to use or compile a glossary
• Try to note down the key concepts in your own words systematically
• Whenever you feel ambiguity refer to these when necessary
XVI. Can an aspirant succeed in the CSS and PMS exam without reading newspaper?
The answer is an emphatic YES. There are substitutes like the following:
• Current affairs capsules
• Mobile apps
• Notes and research papers
XVII. If one can skip newspaper reading by relying on the above mentioned sources, Why I am going to recommend Dawn newspaper reading emphatically?
Because it helps in bolstering the following areas:
- The ‘pictorial memory’ necessary both for MCQs,written exam and viva
- A lot of improvement in your vocabulary
- Communication skills and good expressions
XVIII. The cruxes
• It is wise not to waste time over trivial issues (unimportant for CSS and PMS exam)
• Pragmatically, focus on areas which are directly related to the defined syllabus
XIX. Most vitally important areas to be focused
- Mature and comprehensive analysis of current issues (Editorial page or Op-Ed page).
- Legal and constitutional developments in the light of legislative making and highly significant Supreme Court and High Court verdicts.
- Pressing and burning Issues of national and international importance.
- Federal and provincial parliamentary debates and their long term significance
- Dynamic, salient government policies and orders.
XX. What should not be the focus?
- Localized news
- Political circus and hype-news which more political and less academic
- Masala items like film reviews, wardrobe malfunctions, celebrity interviews, etc.
- Trifle stuff like sports titles, awards, personalities in news, etc.
XXI. Editorial pages
Note: As a matter of fact, explanation of Editorials Opinions /Columns/Op-ed writing ,Perspectives, Commentaries ,Letters and Cartoons is of little relevance here in this article.However,due to most frequently asked questions in classes and on social media pages and groups ,it is spot-on to unpack them here one by one. The gist of my details is to make students understand regarding their relevance, significance and long term advantage.
The important components of Editorial Page
2. Opinions /Columns/Op-ed writing
“Editorial is a comment on those trends which lie at the core of daily occurrences. Max Learner
• The heart and soul -newspaper is incomplete without the editorial section
• The opinion of the entire publishing house
• Substantially, it is an opinionated news story
• Depicts newspaper ideology
• The sole mouthpiece of the newspaper management
• Successfully influence public opinion
• To greater extent promote critical thinking
• Creating an environment to cause people to take action on an issue
• brief essay on current issues
• Unique style of communication between the editor and the readers
Op-ed / Columns writings
An ‘op-ed’ (originally short for “opposite the editorial page”)
• Represents the strong, informed and focused opinion of the writer
• Clearly defined point of view
• Represents clarity of thinking
• Contains the strong, distinctive voice of the writer
• Creative expression covering all fields of journalism
• Pass the projected judgments
• Make recommendations
• Write freely without following the accepted boundaries of news writing
Letter to the editor
Why letters reading is important?
• Help shape knowledge
• Short and brief
• With clearly defined points
• Corrective critical function
• Bring up information not addressed in a news article
• Create an impression of widespread support for or opposition to an issue
• Warrant free expression of judgment,
• Reveal the cognitive and analytical vigor
• Detailed description of a place, person, idea, or organization
• A non-news article
• Giving background
• Cover all the underlying causes
• Outline-oriented and case-by- case approach
• Deal with a subject in greater depth and, usually, at greater length
• To humanize, to add color, to educate, to entertain, to illuminate
• More effective than editorial,
• More interesting than a column
• More informative than news
• Usually short peer-reviewed articles
• A new and unique viewpoint on existing problems, fundamental concepts, or prevalent notions on a specific topic, propose and support a new hypothesis
• Discusses the implications of a newly implemented innovation
• Focuses on current advances and future directions on a topic,
• Includes original data as well as personal opinion
• Discussion or explanation of events or situations
• Based on the writer’s point of view
• Provide several spectrums and narratives
• Give the audience new ways of looking at the subject at hand
• Draw attention to or present criticism on a previously published items article
• Use the findings as a call to action or to highlight a few points of wider relevance to the field
XXII. Magazines for CSS and PMS
• Contemporary Affairs
• The Economist
• Foreign Affairs
• ISSI Quarterly
• Foreign policy
• The Weekly Pakistan
• HSM CSS Times magazine
• CSS Essay, Précis, Current Affairs with Saeed Wazir (A Facebook page)
XXIII. Major newspapers and their authors/writers regarding CSS/PMS
A. Dawn daily newspaper
The following writers and their short bios are presented for clarity regarding their respective contributions. This part is taken from their news outlets.
1. Munir akram
- His specialized areas include Economy and Finance, Foreign Policy, International Relations, Environmental Policy, Inspirational Speakers, Leadership Speakers, University Speakers.
2. Muhammad Amir Rana
- He is a security and political analyst and the director of Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), an independent Islamabad-based think tank.
- He has worked extensively on issues related to counter-terrorism, counter-extremism, and internal and regional security and politics.
3. Khurram Husain
- He is a leading business and economy journalist in Pakistan, based out of Karachi.
4. Ayesha Siddiqa (Mostly in Friday Times)
- She is a Pakistani military scientist, a political commentator and an author who serves as a research associate at the SOAS South Asia Institute.
5. Hussain Haqqani
- He is a Pakistanijournalist, academic, political activist and former ambassador of Pakistan to Sri Lanka and the United States. Search his articles on net.
6. Irfan hussain
- All rounder.
7. Parvaiz hood bhai
- Social and political issues expert. Also authority on education.
8. Moeed Yusuf
- His research focuses on strategic concerns related to South Asia, especially those falling within the ambit of Pakistan and India’s security policy, the political economy of democratic transitions in Pakistan, as well as developmental issues related to South Asian trade and poverty.
9. Ashraf Jehangir Qazi
- Since September 2002, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi has been Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States in Washington D.C. Before that posting, he had been Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India since 1997. He was Pakistan’s Ambassador to China from 1994 to 1997. He also served as Ambassador to Russia (1991-1994), the then-East Germany (1990-1991) and Syria (1986-1988).
10. Syed Mudassir Ali shah
- He contributes to Dawn and Pajhwok Afghan news, his specialized domain is Afghan crisis.
11. Zahid Hussain
He is an award winning journalist and writer. He has covered Pakistan and Afghanistan for several international publications. He is author of “Frontline Pakistan” and “Scorpion’s Tail”.
12. Ms. Yusuf,
The Wilson Center’s 2010-11 Pakistan Scholar, is a weekly columnist for Dawn, an influential Pakistani newspaper. She also writes regularly for the International New York Times.
WILSON CENTER PROJECTS
“The Fourth Estate in Flux: Media, Politics, and Public Policy in Pakistan”
13. Arifa Noor
15. Zafar Abass
- (The easiest writing he does on Op-ed pages, pun intended)
B. Writers of the News International
1. Kamila Hyat
2. Maleeha Lodhi(Currently she does not contribute,but download her articles from Net)
3. Ayaz Amir
4. Salma Khalid
5. Imtiaz Alam
6. Zaigham Khan
7. Shahid Siddiqui
8. Waqar Masood Khan
9. Fahad Akram Qazi
C. Writers of Pakistan Observer
1. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal
D. Writers of Pakistan Observer
1. Raza Rumi (the chief editor of the Daily Times )
XXIV. Think Tanks and their research-based publications
The following sources are the most authentic and valuable in terms of innovative study skills. I will recommend consulting them instead of relying on run-of-the-mill stuff.
• The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI)
• Pakistan Institute of International Affairs- piia.org.pk
• South Asian Strategic Stability Institute-www.sassi.org
• Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad-issi.org.pk
• Islamabad Policy Research Institute-irpipak.org
• Centre for Research & Security Studie-crss.pk
• Institute of Regional Studies-irs.org.pk
• Institute of Policy Studies-ips.org.pk
• Friedrich Eberto Stiftung-fes-pakistan.org
• Alternate Solutions Institute-asinstitute.org
• Social Policy and Development Centre-spde.org.pk
• Pakistan China Institute-pakistan-china.com
• South Asian Voices (SAV)-Analysis from the Subcontinent
• PILDAT – Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development And …transparency
• Alif Ailaan (Education in Pakistan)
• Pak Institute For Peace Studies Pvt Ltd. (PIPS)
• Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) | Peace Insight
• Islamabad Policy Research Institute
• Pak Institute For Peace Studies Pvt Ltd. (PIPS) https://www.pakpips.com/
• Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services – Islamabad-https://www.pips.gov.pk/
• Youth Parliament of Pakistan-www.youthparliament.org.pk/
XXV. Top International newspapers to read
- The Guardian (UK)
- The Wall Street Journal (USA)
- The New York Times (USA)
- The Washington Post (USA)
- China Daily (China)
- The Times of India (India)
- The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
- The Asahi Shimbun (Japan)
- Dawn (Pakistan)
- Zaman (Turkey)
- Chicago Tribune
- Houston Chronicle
- 13.San Francisco Chronicle
- Wall Street Journal:
- The Guardian
- Financial Times
- Times of India
- The Daily Mail
XXVI. International websites and think tanks
• Wilson Center | Independent Research, Open Dialogue & Actionable https://www.wilsoncenter.org/
• International Crisis Group-https://www.crisisgroup.org/
• The World Factbook – Central Intelligence Agency – CIA
• World Bank Group – International Development, Poverty, & Sustainability-https://www.worldbank.org/
• Centre for European Policy Studies, Belgium
• French Institute of International Relations, France
• German Institute for International Politics and Security, Germany
• Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russia
• International Crisis Group, Belgium
• International Institute for Strategic Studies, United Kingdom
• Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, Israel
• Japan Institute of International Affairs, Japan
• Royal Institute of International Affairs, United Kingdom
• Shanghai Institute for International Studies, China
• World Press Review. Think Tanks and N.G.O.S
• Brookings Institution. Foreign Policy
• RAND International Affairs
• Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
• American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. Foreign and Defense Studies (AEI)
• Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR)
• American Foreign Policy Council
• National Security Archive
• Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies
• Cato Institute. U.S. Foreign Policy and National Security
• Center for International Development (CID) Harvard University
• Center for International Policy
• James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies
• Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
• Council on Foreign Relations
• Foreign Policy in Focus
• Hoover Institution (Stanford University)
• International Institute for Strategic Studies
• International Relations and Security Network (ISN)
• Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)
• Brookings Institution (United States)
• Chatham House (United Kingdom)
• French Institute of International Relations (IFRI) (France)
• Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) (United States)
• Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (United States)
• Bruegel (Belgium)
• RAND Corporation (United States)
• Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (United States)
• Fundacao Getulio Vargas (FGV)
• Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) (United States)
• Cato Institute (United States)
• Heritage Foundation (United States)
• International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) (United Kingdom)
• Center for American Progress (CAP) (United States)
• Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA) (Japan)
• Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) (Germany)
• Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) (Germany)
• German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) (Germany)
• Fraser Institute (Canada)
• Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) (United States)
Note: It is clarified that all the above-mentioned sources do not entail one should study them all for CSS, PMS and other competitive exams. They are recommended for developing critical, rational and different approach on study and of study. The aspirants are advised to search syllabus questions by relying on them for first-hand knowledge which is considered the backbone of competitive exams.
Tailpiece: For better guidance regarding studies skills and writing strategies, I will recommend students to interact with me on Facebook page, CSS Essay, Précis, Current Affairs With Saeed Wazir. I will be honored if someone comes up with further feedback on this articles.
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