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Pakistan-United States Journalists Exchange

1072The Pakistan-United States Journalists Exchange program is designed to increase and deepen public understanding of the two countries and their important relationship, one that is crucial to regional stability and the global war on terrorism. While there have been many areas of agreement and cooperation through the history of the US-Pakistan relationship, deep mistrust and a lack of understanding remain between American and Pakistani publics, which rarely get opportunities to engage with each other and thus rely on media for their information and viewpoints.

The year 2014 will be important for the US-Pakistan relationship. Pakistan’s first successful democratic transition in 2013 brought a new government to Pakistan and an invigorated interest on both sides for a fresh start. The two countries will be challenged to cope with the significant on-going difficulties of terrorism, economic development and regional stability as the US draws down its military presence in Afghanistan.

This exchange offers U.S. and Pakistani journalists an opportunity to gain firsthand information about the countries they visit to better understand the perspectives of both sides and bring new insights on this changing relationship to their audiences. The program will include meetings with policymakers, government and military officials, business and civil society leaders, and a diverse group of other community members. Journalists will gain a better understanding of regional dynamics, historical context, and regional and domestic realities that affect both countries in the relationship. All participants meet at the East-West Center in Hawaii before and after their study tours for dialogues focused on sensitive issues between the two countries; preconceived attitudes among the public and media in both the United States and Pakistan; new perspectives gained through their study tours; and how media coverage between the two countries can be improved. Twelve Pakistani journalists will travel to the United States and ten U.S. journalists will travel to Pakistan. This East-West Center program is funded by a grant from the U.S. Embassy Islamabad Public Affairs Section.

1071“The briefings in Honolulu, and especially the trip to Pakistan, put the disparities between the Pakistani and American narratives in high relief. This more textured understanding of the underlying causes of the tensions will help me in my analyses of U.S. policy in this critical part of the world. It also will have me better prepared to anticipate, identify and consider the implications of the scheduled U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014.” John Diaz, Editorial Page Editor, San Francisco Chronicle

"This visit has provided me so much inside knowledge of United States and also given me direction to gain more knowledge about U.S.A. It will ultimately help me during my documentaries, reports, talk shows and newspaper articles to discuss issues of both countries in a more balanced way and with new approach. I will always compare the situation with my new perspective which I gained during this visit." Shabbir Ahmad, Producer, Geo TV, Islamabad

2014 Pakistan-U.S. Journalists Exchange

Program Dates:  March 30-April 19, 2014

Study Tour for Pakistani Journalists: Washington, D.C., New York City and Columbia, Missouri

Study Tour for the U.S. Journalists: Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi, Pakistan

Honolulu Program: The program opens and concludes in Honolulu, Hawaii for briefings and dialogue sessions between Pakistani and American participants.

Who Can Apply:  Professional print, broadcast (TV and radio), and online journalists in Pakistan and the United States with a minimum of five years of professional experience. Must be citizens of Pakistan or the United States. Pakistani journalists must have no previous experience in the United States, be currently residing in Pakistan and be able to communicate in English in a professional, discussion-oriented environment. Preference will be given to Urdu and regional language media and effort will be made to balance regional, gender and broadcast, print and on-line representation. The strongest candidates from both countries will be those who cover the US-Pakistan relationship in their work as reporters, editors, columnists, producers, anchors, etc., or who are in a position to be able to do some stories about the country visited and the issues covered in the program.

Funding:  Roundtrip airfare for the study tour travel, lodging, visa expenses and per diem to cover meals and incidentals are provided by the East-West Center through a grant from the United States Embassy Islamabad Public Affairs Section.

Application Deadline:  CLOSED

Study Tour for Pakistani Journalists (April 3-16):  Washington, D.C., New York City and Columbia, Missouri

Pakistani journalists will have an opportunity to explore U.S. policy toward Pakistan and learn more about the U.S. system of government and democracy during a visit to Washington, DC (April 3-8). Participants will meet with key officials and engage with Pakistan analysts,  business leaders and lobbying organizations that work on various aspects of the US Pakistan relationship. The New York City program (April 9-12) will feature discussions about media coverage of Pakistan and the residual effects of 9/11 on U.S. relations with the Muslim world and the experience of Muslim Americans in the United States. Finally, participants will see a very different part of America in Columbia, Missouri (April 12-16). The prestigious Missouri School of Journalism will host a program that includes discussion sessions covering media topics such as multi-sourcing stories; media in a democracy; the media's relationship with government, military and business; and the use of new media and new technologies for newsgathering. It also will provide unique opportunities to experience small town and rural Midwestern American life and a chance to interact with American citizens from diverse backgrounds. The program will include several public forums for Pakistani participants to share their perspectives with American audiences.

Please see draft Travel Calendar for Pakistani journalists for details.

Study Tour for the U.S. Journalists (April 5-16): Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi, Pakistan

2117 American journalists will have a chance to better understand the situation on the ground in Pakistan and explore Pakistani perspectives toward the United States. Meetings will focus on Pakistan’s new government and its democratic system; its economic and development challenges; the war on terrorism and rising extremism; the role of the United States and its policies in Pakistan; and the role of Pakistan in the region and in Afghanistan as the US draws down it's presence. Additionally, they will have a chance to observe Pakistan’s media environment, share US perspectives and practices with Pakistani media, and discuss coverage of the United States. The program will start in the capital city of Islamabad for meetings with policymakers, political leaders, analysts, civil society organizations, military leaders, US officials, and others who can provide journalists with a deeper understanding of Pakistan and the Pakistan-US relationship. Journalists will then travel to Lahore, Pakistan's cultural capital, to explore economic and development issues, religion, and politics, and to better understand Pakistan’s history and culture. The last stop will be in Karachi, Pakistan’s economic hub, to learn about business relationships, and the increasingly tense dynamics of Pakistan’s largest city. The program will also feature home visits with Pakistani families and an opportunity to engage with a wide range of Pakistani citizens, including students.

Please see draft Travel Calendar for American journalists. Study tour destinations in Pakistan may change depending on the situation on the ground at the time of the program.

Honolulu Program (March 30-April 2, and April 16-19)

The program opens with two-days of briefings and discussions for the Pakistani and American journalists at the East-West Center in Honolulu (March 30-April 2). Journalists will engage in dialogue sessions on the key issues and challenges in the Pakistan-U.S. relationship. After their respective study tour programs, the journalists will return to Honolulu (April 16-18) to share their new perspectives on the relationship and one another’s countries based on their on-the-ground meetings and visits, and will discuss ways to improve media coverage of the issues and of one another’s countries.

The 2014 Pakistan-United States Journalists Exchange participants:

Pakistani Journalists

  • Mr. Asad Ali, Chief Reporter, The Statesman, Peshawar
  • Mr. Muhammad Riaz Burki, News Reporter, Pakistan Television, Islamabad
  • Ms. Ghazala Fasih Khan, Reporter-in-Charge, Women’s Edition, Columnist and Feature Writer, Nawa-i-waqt Group of Publications, Karachi
  • Mr. Khalid Khan Kheshgi, Staff Reporter, The News International Peshawar Bureau and Stringer, Mashaal Radio, Peshawar
  • Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Mehto, Special Correspondent (economic and investigative), Dunya News TV, Lahore
  • Mr. Ikram Ullah Moomand, Editor-in-Charge, Editorial Page, Daily AAJ Urdu, Peshawar
  • Ms. Mahwish Qayyum, Reporter, Express News Peshawar Bureau, Peshawar
  • Mr. Yasir Qazi, National Program Manager, HOT FM105 Radio Network, Karachi
  • Mr. Zia Ur Rahman, Broadcast Journalist, Samaa TV, Lahore
  • Ms. Asma Razaq, Staff Reporter, Abb Takk, Islamabad
  • Mr. Jeeyand Kashif Sajidi, Assistant Editor, Daily Intekhab, Quetta, Balochistan
  • Mr. Ashfaq Ahmed Unar, Director News & Current Affairs, Kawish Television Network (KTN News), Karachi

American Journalists

  • Ms. Kellen Michelle Henry, Mobile/Digital Producer, Associated Press, Brooklyn, New York
  • Ms. Sonia Narang, Multimedia Producer, BBC/Public Radio International’s The World, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Ms. Sue McMillin, News Director, The Gazette, Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Mr. Lateef Mungin, Desk Editor, CNN, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Ms. Chelsea Brooke Sheasley, Asia Editor, The Christian Science Monitor, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Ms. Sonia Helen Smith, Associate Editor, Texas Monthly, Austin, Texas
  • Ms. Sara Hannah Sorcher, National Security Correspondent, National Journal, Washington, DC
  • Ms. Beth Ellen Willon, Broadcast Journalist, KGO Radio San Francisco, San Francisco, California
  • Mr. Conrad Wilson, Freelance Radio Journalist, Marketplace and National Public Radio, Portland, Oregon
  • Mr. James Gene Wright, Deputy Editor for Metropolitan and Business News, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Las Vegas, Nevada

2013 Pakistan-U.S. Journalists Exchange

The 2013 Pakistan-U.S. Journalists Exchange was held from March 6-23 and provided nine Pakistani and ten American journalists the opportunity to visit each other’s country and learn firsthand the complexities of the relationship between their two countries.

Both groups met at the East-West Center Honolulu before and after their study tours for two days of dialogue sessions. Journalists shared perspectives from their country on some of the key issues in the Pakistan-U.S. relationship: fighting terrorism and extremism, the US drone program, U.S aid to Pakistan, the economic relationship and media coverage. Discussions also addressed sensitive issues such as reactions to the “Innocence of Muslims” video in August 2012, and enlightened both sides on how each views issues of religion and freedom of speech. After their study tours, journalists shared their new insights. American journalists gained an appreciation of the complex challenges facing Pakistan and the deleterious impact of the war on terror on daily life, and the Pakistani journalists emphasized their new understanding of America’s political systems, foreign policy and society. Muhammad Imran Ahmed felt the program had “cleared many misconceptions regarding the US-Pak relationship.”

1972 American journalists meeting with Jemaat e Islami members at their party headquarters in Lahore.

The Pakistani journalists started their 9-day U.S. visit in Washington, DC. A backgrounder on US values and history from Akram Elias, and visits to America’s monuments and institutions, including a special night tour of the U.S. Capitol by former Congressman Jim Moody, provided insights into the American system of government that helped them to better understand American policy and decision-making in Pakistan. This was furthered by the opportunity to meet with leading independent Pakistan analysts, top policymakers at the State Department and Pentagon, and current and former lawmakers Jane Harmon--former Congresswoman from California who chaired the Intelligence Committee--and Tulsi Gabbard, Congresswoman from Hawaii who serves on the House Foreign Relations Committee. The journalists appreciated the opportunity to hear from Congresswoman Harmon, Peter Bergen and others in Washington, DC about the US drone program, and how it is being questioned now in the United States. Other highlights of the Washington, DC program were the chance to share lunch at the Pentagon with soldiers who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the opportunity to share their perspectives with DC audiences in panel presentations at the East-West Center Washington, DC office and the Department of State.  

1971 Pakistani journalist Najia Ashar with Pastor Amy Gearhart at a local Methodist church in Columbia, Missouri The next stop was New York City, where they attended a Page One meeting and met with editorial writers Bill Keller and Carol Giacomo at the New York Times; met with Jewish and Muslim leaders, Rabbi Marc Schneier and Imam Shamsi Ali about religious tolerance and reconciliation in America; discussed gender equality with the American Society for Muslim Advancement; and took a tour of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, guided by a mother who had lost her son in the attack. The Pakistani journalists were interviewed by the curator of the 9/11 Memorial Museum as part of the exhibit on the lasting effects of 9/11 around the world. Their last destination was Columbia, Missouri where they had a rich program coordinated and hosted by the prestigious Missouri School of Journalism. Flying toy-sized drones and participating in workshops on conflict reporting, they learned the latest media trends and tools from media experts and professors. Dinners with local families, a visit to a high school, and attending church services were especially cherished as it allowed the Pakistani participants a chance to experience what they called “real people” and discover commonalities between their country and the US.

The ten American journalists traveled to Islamabad and Lahore. This was the first ever visit to Pakistan for all of the Americans. It was a historic moment to visit Pakistan, as the government was in the process of dissolving itself to make way for elections, marking the first time an elected civilian government would complete a full term and transfer power to another democratically elected government. Ahmed Bilal Mahboob from the program’s partner organization PILDAT, provided the journalists with a thorough background on the dynamics of the election and politics in Pakistan, that enabled them to engage in political discussions with politicians, analysts, journalists, students and others throughout their program. Though it was a busy time for all Pakistani institutions, the journalists had a chance to meet with the Foreign Secretary, and top officials at the Strategic Plans Division of the Military and the Director General of the ISPR. Respected foreign policy analysts Maleeha Lodhi and Talat Hussain, retired military officials Talat Masood and Athar Abbas, and nuclear expert Dr. Abdul Hameed Nayyar, shared rich insights into foreign policy, the military’s agenda, the war on terrorism, and Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program while a visit to the U.S. Embassy outlined some of the U.S.’s responses to the these programs. Other highlights in Islamabad included an evening with a Pakistan host family, a meeting with students and leaders from the FATA areas who shared first hand accounts of the realities there, and a panel discussion by American journalists on media issues which led to a robust dialogue with the Pakistani audience on media and its role. American journalists were struck by the seriousness of Pakistan’s energy crisis, which they both experienced with frequent black outs, and heard about from nearly every politician, analyst and business leaders as a critical obstacle in moving the country forward.

Just as Missouri exposed the Pakistani Fellows to the “real people” of America so Lahore introduced the American Fellows to the reality of life in Pakistan. Chaotic streets, ancient culture, and a vibrant city greeted them. The Lahore program provided many opportunities for engagement with Pakistanis, while deepening their understanding of the US-Pakistan relationship. A visit to a women’s shelter as part of the AURAT Foundation’s Gender Equity Project provided a concrete example of USAID funding using the channel of Pakistan’s indigenous civil society organizations rather than Western contractors. The women’s stories offered poignant insight into the unique religious, family and gender issues in Pakistan. Businessmen from the All-Pakistan Textile Mills Association emphasized the need for “Trade vs. Aid,” arguing that the best way to fight terrorism in Pakistan is with more jobs, which they could create if given a more favorable trade status with the US.  As journalists toured their sophisticated factories, they cited the energy crisis, security and poor governance as other obstacles to their production.

Journalists heard the platforms for resolving these issues in meetings with political leadership for PML-N, the party that ultimately won the May 11 election, and Jemaat e Islami, the largest Islamic party in Pakistan with strong anti-American views. Discussions with civil rights attorney Asma Jahangir and analyst Hasan Askari on human rights, the dangers of judicial activism in Pakistan, and military-civilian rule with further broadened their scope of understanding.

1988 American journalists interviewing officials at the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) Secretariat in Lahore, Pakistan.A highlight in Lahore was a meeting with political science students at the Government College University Lahore who openly shared their frustrations with American policy and their expectations for the upcoming election. A visit to the Fort and Badshahi Mosque and the unique Wagah Border ceremony along with many encounters with friendly and hospitable people left an indelible mark on the participants. 

In their stories that resulted from the program and in public presentations along the way, journalists offered unique insights into relations between the United States and Pakistan; the fight against terrorism and America’s use of drones; on-the-ground perspectives of Americans and Pakistanis about each other’s countries; difficulties and dangers faced by Pakistan’s media; and how their perspectives had changed after traveling in the two countries.

“If masses in Pakistan come to know the honest assistance of US it will definitely decrease the level of anti-American sentiments in their minds. The true enemies of both Pakistan and United States propagate…that the war against terror in reality is a war against Islam. But in US I haven’t seen any…indication that supports that claim. United States is a country of those people who had great respect for all religions and particularly for Islam…where Muslims were given the equal rights as per US law and there was not any discrimination of faith.” (Pakistani journalist, 2013 program)

“I think for the last decade there has been too much emphasis in the US media on Pakistan’s “support of terrorism.” There should be a fuller picture in the US media. It rarely depicts Pakistanis as real people with the same aspirations as any American. US coverage relies too much on a small circle of experts with security focus...” (American journalist, 2013 program)

Pakistani journalists shared their perspectives at a forum in Washington, D.C. and in interviews with Global Journalist at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Pakistani and American journalists shared their experiences from the program at a public forum in Honolulu.

The 2013 Pakistan-US Journalists Exchange resulted in many stories especially American media coverage in advance of Pakistan's historic election in May 2013. Click here for links to these stories.

The 2013 Pakistan-United States Journalists Exchange participants:

Pakistani Journalists

  • Mr. Muhammad Imran Ahmed, Chief Reporter, Roznama (Daily) Dunya, Karachi
  • Ms. Najia Ashar, Senior Anchor/Producer, Geo Television Network, Karachi
  • Mr. Abdul Ghani Kakar, Chief Investigative Reporter, Daily Awam, Quetta, Balochistan
  • Mr. Nisar Ali Khokhar, Special Correspondent, KTN News TV, Hyderabad
  • Mr. Ikram Ullah Moomand, Editor-in-Charge, Editorial Page, Daily AAJ Urdu, Peshawar
  • Ms. Sadia Nasir, Reporter, Pakistan Television (PTV), Current Affairs Department, Islamabad
  • Ms. Shumaila Noreen, Reporter/Sub-editor, Associated Press Pakistan, Islamabad
  • Mr. Shahid Hameed Rind, Bureau Chief, ARY News, Quetta
  • Mr. Muhammad Salman, Staff Reporter, Daily Nawa-i-Waqt, Peshawar
  • Mr. Pervaiz Shaukat, Senior Reporter, Daily Jang, and President, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, Islamabad
  • Ms. Sana Saif Tirmazee, Reporter, Dawnnews TV, Lahore

Click here to view the bios of the Pakistani journalists.

American Journalists

  • Ms. Emily Cadei, Reporter, Foreign Policy, Congressional Quarterly Roll Call, Washington, DC
  • Ms. Monica DelaRosa, Series Producer, ABC News Network, New York City, New York
  • Ms. Lisa Friedman, Deputy Editor, Climate Wire/Environment & Energy News, Washington, DC
  • Ms. Elaine M. Grossman, Reporter, National Journal/Global Security Newswire, Washington, DC
  • Mr. Kurtis Ming, Anchor/Reporter, KOVR CBS13, Sacramento, California
  • Mr. Jerome McDonnell, Host and Producer, Worldview (a global affairs program), WBEZ Radio, Chicago, Illinois
  • Ms. Linda Roth, Supervising Producer, “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer,” CNN, Washington, DC
  • Mr. Daniel Sagalyn, Deputy Senior Producer, Foreign Affairs & Defense, PBS NewsHour, Arlington, Virginia
  • Mr. Sasha Polakow-Suransky, Staff Editor/Op-Ed, New York Times, New York
  • Mr. Kris Van Cleave, Reporter, WJLA-TV, Arlington, Virginia

Click here to view the bios of the American journalists.

For information on previous Pakistan-United States Journalists Exchange programs, please click on the links below.

2011 Pakistan-United States Journalists Exchange

2012 Pakistan-United States Journalists Exchange

For More Information
Ann Hartman
Seminar Specialist, Seminars
East-West Center
1601 East-West Road
Honolulu, HI 96848-1601
Phone: (808) 944-7619
Fax: (808) 944-7600

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