March 26: Pakistan Media Perspectives on US-Pakistan Relations

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March 26, 2012: Pakistan-United States Journalists Exchange Program Participants
(Click to enlarge) From Left to Right: Shabbir Ahmad, Mahboob Ali, Sajid Hussain, and Hafsah Syed.
(Click to enlarge) From Left to Right: Shabbir Ahmad, Mahboob Ali, Sajid Hussain, and Hafsah Syed.

Pakistan Media Perspectives on US-Pakistan Relations

WASHINGTON, DC (March 26, 2012) – The US-Pakistan relationship is one that has been crucial to regional stability, yet as producer at Pakistan’s Geo News network, Shabbir Ahmed put it, US-Pakistan relations have never been stable. He described them like a rollercoaster “based on high expectations and low trust.” Ahmed was among four members of Pakistan’s media participating in the East-West Center’s Pakistan-United States Journalists Exchange Program who lead a discussion on this complex relationship while visiting Washington D.C. as part of their multi-city study tour of the United States.

Following Mr. Ahmed’s broad overview of US-Pakistan relations, Mahboob Ali, also from Geo News, described the increased focus of his home region in Northern Pakistan over the course of the “Global War on Terror” over the past decade. Sajid Hussain, explained that he could only represent his own views on the US-Pakistan relationship as the Pakistani perspective of the US is complex: “some love it, some hate it, the majority are confused.” Finally Hafsah Syed described some of the pre-conceived notions of her country that she had to that point encountered in the US, and urged the media on both sides to learn more about the other.

In the lively discussion that followed, other participants in the 10 member delegation had the opportunity to share their views and field questions from the audience.

Shabbir Ahmad is a producer in the news and current affairs department of Geo News, the most-watched TV news channel in Pakistan, at the Islamabad station. His current program, Jirga, is an influential political talk show which focuses on the war on terror and its effects.

Mahboob Ali became a correspondent at Geo TV Network in October 2008, and has reported from the conflict zone in his home district of Swat valley for many international news organizations including BBC, Frontline, and The New York Times.

Sajid Hussain is assistant editor at The News International, the largest circulated English daily in Pakistan. He manages the affairs of the Karachi station, covering the largest metropolis of the country, and writes opinion pieces on his home province of Baluchistan.

Hafsah Syed is an executive producer at Dawn News TV, focusing on programming for and about women and children. She is responsible for initiating holistic discussions on a variety of taboo issues in Pakistani society such as polygamy, abortion and Shariah law.