Pakistani Journalists Perspectives on Post-US Afghanistan: Implications for Pakistan


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When: Apr 7 2014 - 5:00pm until Apr 7 2014 - 6:30pm
Where: 1819 L St, NW, Washington, DC. Sixth Floor Conference Room

Pakistani Journalists' Perspectives on Post-US Afghanistan: Implications for Pakistan

An Asia Pacific Security Seminar featuring:

Mr. Khalid Khan Kheshgi
Staff Reporter, The News International, and Stringer, Mashaal Radio, Peshawar

Mr. Riaz Burki
News Reporter, Foreign Affairs and Parliament, Pakistan Television, Islamabad

Mr. Jeeyand Kashif Sajidi
Assistant Editor, Daily Intekhab, Quetta, Balochistan

Dr. Marvin Weinbaum (Discussant)
Executive Director, Center for Pakistan Studies, Middle East Institute

Pictured here left to right: Mr. Khalid Khan Kheshgi, Mr. Riaz Burki, Mr. Jeeyand Kashif Sajidi, and Dr. Marvin Weinbaum (Discussant).

When the United States draws down its presence after over a decade in Afghanistan, the effects will not stop at the border. In a special panel discussion on their visit to the US, participants in the East-West Center’s United States-Pakistan Journalist Exchange Program shared their insights on how neighboring Pakistan will be affected by this change. Issues discussed included the status of Afghan refugees in Pakistan, the impact on the border regions of FATA and Balochistan, and Pakistan government’s relationship with Afghanistan.

A staff reporter at the daily newspaper, "The News International", and reporter for Mashaal Radio, Mr. Khalid Khan Kheshgi described the issue of multi-generational Afghan refugees in Pakistan's Peshawar provinceMr. Khalid Khan Kheshgi, a reporter a daily newspaper and radio station in the northern city of Peshawar, began the discussion by explaining the issue of multi-generational Afghan refugees in his home province, which borders Afghanistan. Over a million Afghan refugees reside in the city after fleeing from civil war decades ago. The community is now into its third generation, with increasing calls for full citizenship rights as few intend to return. The local concern is that US withdrawal from neighboring Afghanistan will lead to a new influx of refugees that will further strain local resources and lead to increased crime or even links to terrorist activities.

A news reporter and diplomatic correspondent for the state-run Pakistan Television, Mr. Riaz Burki described a sense of fear among the Pakistani people and government concerning the US draw down of operations in neighboring AfghanistanDiplomatic correspondent for the state-run Pakistan Television, Mr. Riaz Burki, described a sense of fear among the Pakistani people and government concerning the US draw down of operations in neighboring Afghanistan, albeit fear from differing causes. Chief concerns include that a sudden withdrawal will lead to chaotic destabilization, which could spill over the border, or that even with a gradual draw down, image will be that the Taliban is winning- a dangerous notion for Pakistan which has its own Taliban groups. Finally, others fear that in America's absence, India and other "unfriendly countries" will gain more influence in Afghanistan, to Pakistan's detriment. His view is that he does not favor US withdrawal unless something concrete has been achieve. Mr. Burki believes that talks are the best option, and without bringing the Taliban to the table and into the mainstream system, peace is not possible.

Assistant Editor at the "Daily Intekhab" in Quetta, Balochistan, Mr. Jeeyand Kashif Sajidi explained the impact of a destabilized or Talibanized Afghanistan on the majority-Pashtun border regions."Things are looking scary," intimated Mr. Jeeyand Kashif Sajidi, a newspaper editor based in Quetta, Balochistan, which lies on Pakistan's northwest border with Afghanistan. Fearing a return of civil war between the Taliban and the government in Kabul, he explained the potential local impact of a destabilized or Talibanized Afghanistan on the majority-Pashtun border regions, such as Balochistan. In addition to the concerns about refugees and alliances between cross-border Taliban groups, he said that the Pashtun nationalism among both of these groups is running high. The feeling among these communities of belonging to a "Greater Afghanistan" rather than Pakistan society can undermine the authority of the government within its own borders. Therefore, he warned it is not the right time for the US to leave, lest the region all into chaos.

In his role as discussant, Dr. Marvin Weinbaum addressed the issues raised by the journalists by offering an overarching view of the situation Pakistan faces vis-a-vis a post-US Afghanistan. He explained that since the Taliban's goals are incompatible with either Afghanistan or Pakistan's political systems, and that a united, independent, non-Talibanized Afghanistan is in both country's interests, Pakistan may be best placed to encourage this direction for its northern neighbor. He suggested that Pakistan reach out in ways it hasn't before to support a stable Afghan government, throw out its domestic Taliban elements, and assist in capacity building and training.

For more images, please visit the album for this event on the East-West Center's Flickr page.

Khalid Khan Kheshgi is a staff reporter at the Peshawar Bureau of daily The News International, covering the provincial assembly, and issues related to Afghan refugees, internally displaced persons and militancy in the FATA and border regions. Besides print journalism, Mr. Kheshgi also reports for Mashaal Radio, a Pashto channel of Radio Free Europe, from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Riaz Burki is a reporter with the state-run Pakistan Television News, covering foreign affairs and the parliament as a diplomatic correspondent. Prior, he was an editor in the leading newswire Independent News of Pakistan and was the nation’s first reporter to cover the Pakistan Army’s initial operation of against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in the tribal areas of South Waziristan.

Jeeyand Kashif Sajidi is an assistant editor at the Daily Intekhab Quetta where he writes articles on issues relating to Balochistan. Working for the largest circulated daily newspaper of Balochistan, he also is responsible for selecting and editing articles, features and columns.

Dr. Marvin Weinbaum is a scholar-in-residence at the Middle East Institute in Washington DC, and professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He served as analyst for Pakistan and Afghanistan in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research from 1999 to 2003. Dr. Weinbaum received his PhD from Columbia University.

Primary Contact Info:
Name: Grace Ruch Clegg
Phone: 202-327-9762