Pakistan-United States Journalists Exchange


From 2011-2014, the East-West Center conducted the Pakistan-United States Journalists Exchange, a 3-week program 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. The program was part of a larger Deepening Democracy through Media in Pakistan project funded by the US Embassy Islamabad to enhance the role of media in Pakistan’s democratic transition. The project concluded in October 2014 with a National Alumni Conference in Islamabad.

This exchange offered U.S. and Pakistani journalists an opportunity to gain firsthand information to better understand the perspectives of both sides and bring new insights on this important relationship to their audiences. Over the four years of the Exchange, a total of 38 Pakistani journalists traveled to the United States and 30 American journalists traveled to Pakistan. Key partners in this project were the Pakistan Institute for Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT), which provided programmatic and logistical support; and the University of Missouri School of Journalism, which organized media training and community engagement.

Top: Interview with PM Nawaz Sharif’s election team. Bottom: Meeting with Imran Khan, leader of PTI opposition party.The journalists have cumulatively generated more than 112 media pieces for their audiences directly from their experiences and brought new perspectives to 24 different media outlets in the US and 26 in Pakistan. U.S. outlets include the New York Times, Washington Post, PBS Newshour, CNN, San Francisco Chronicle, National Journal, Public Radio International, and many local radio and TV stations. In Pakistan, the focus has been on Urdu and local language media, with representation from most major media outlets including: GEO, Samaa, PTV, Dunya TV, Daily Aaj, Nawa-i-Waqt, Daily Express, as well as local language media such as Daily Kawish, Kawish TV, Sindh TV, Mashaal Radio, AVT Khyber and Daily Intekhab in Quetta. Journalists have touched communities from across the country, including cities and towns such as Charsadda, Swat, Multan, Hyderabad, and Quetta.

The program has built lasting relationships among American and Pakistani journalists. They have maintained vibrant exchanges through group Facebook pages in which they continue to be active. They share perspectives on key news events between the two countries, thereby continuing one another’s access to “both sides of the story” and deeper information and insight. In May 2014, two American alumni, radio journalist Terry Anzur and CNN’s Linda Roth returned to Pakistan to conduct training for Pakistani journalists in a program facilitated by one of their Pakistani colleagues and with funding from the Consulate in Karachi. The training events were attended by journalists representing all 4 generations of Pakistan-U.S. Journalists Exchange alumni.

Mushtaq Sarki, Sindh TV News, meeting with US Representatives Louie Gohmert and Dana RohrabacherIn addition, the programs have built a foundation of new knowledge, networks and perspectives that is influencing the way that Pakistani and American journalists report on the United States and Pakistan and the U.S.-Pakistan relationship.

2014 Exchange participant Riaz Burki wrote, “After this program our perception about the U.S. is totally changed. The things which were portrayed as negative of the U.S. now look quite reasonable. After this program we can understand better the U.S. perspective about Pakistan whenever there is any Pak-U.S. issue…we can contact not only our American colleagues but also most of the experts or people at different U.S. institutions whenever there is any issue between the two countries to clear the real situation.”

Mahboob Ali, Geo TV, presents a gift to Amy Gearhart, Sr. Pastor, Missouri United Methodist Church, during Palm Sunday servicesAmerican journalists gained a perspective of Pakistan and its relationship with the United States that was situated in the complex context of history and Pakistan’s current political, economic, and social challenges. They gained insight and contacts that they can use for their news coverage of Pakistan for many years to come.

“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

For a full list of stories generated from this program from 2011-2014, please see Pakistan-US Journalists Exchange Stories.

2014 Pakistan-US Journalists Exchange

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

View dynamic slideshow and narrative of the 2014 program. (To view as a slideshow, click on the first image, select "slideshow" from the top menu, then click on the play arrow at the bottom.)

American and Pakistani journalists work together in Honolulu on a presentation about media challengesThe year 2014 was 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 continued to face challenges in coping with the significant on-going difficulties of terrorism, economic development and regional stability with new governments in Pakistan and India, and elections and the US military draw down in Afghanistan.

The 2014 Pakistan-US Journalists Exchange program included meetings with policymakers, government and military officials, business and civil society leaders, and a diverse group of other community members. Journalists gained a better understanding of regional dynamics, historical context, and regional and domestic realities that affect both countries in the relationship. All participants met 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 traveled to the United States and ten U.S. journalists traveled to Pakistan. This East-West Center program is funded by a grant from the U.S. Embassy Islamabad Public Affairs Section.

Pakistani Journalists Study Tour to the United States

Pakistani journalists have an opportunity to report about their visit to Washington, DCPakistani journalists explored U.S. policy toward Pakistan and learned more about the U.S. system of government and democracy during a visit to Washington, DC (April 3-8). Participants met with key officials and engaged with Pakistan analysts, business leaders and lobbying organizations that work on various aspects of the US Pakistan relationship. The program featured high-level engagements with officials at the Pentagon, State Department, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as well as the Pakistani Ambassador.

The New York City program (April 9-12) featured discussions about media coverage of Pakistan in visits to the New York Times and ABC News, the residual effects of 9/11 on U.S. relations with the Muslim world and the experience of Muslim Americans in the United States. They gained first hand perspectives on 9/11 and its aftermath through a tour of the Memorial and Tribute Center, a meeting with 9/11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows and a panel discussion with Rabbi Bob Kaplan, Imam Shamsi Ali, and former commissioner of immigrant affairs for New York City Fatemi Shama hosted by the Center for Ethnic Media at the City University of New York. The journalists visited the United Nations and met with the Pakistan Permanent Ambassador to the United Nations for an assessment of Pakistan’s role in the international community.

Journalists learn about 9/11 and its aftermath through the story of Traci Gazzani who lost her only son on that day.Finally, participants got to experience a very different part of America in Columbia, Missouri (April 12-16). The prestigious Missouri School of Journalism hosted program that included discussion sessions covering media topics such as the role of media in a democracy; investigative reporting; and the use of new media and new technologies for newsgathering. It also provided unique opportunities to experience small town and rural Midwestern American life, including Palm Sunday church service and dinners with host families. 

The program included several public forums for Pakistani participants to share their perspectives with American audiences. In Washington, DC four Pakistani journalists outlined perspectives on the US drawdown in Afghanistan, and in Missouri, participants presented views on their experiences in the US, on women in Pakistan, and the US-Pakistan relationship.

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

American journalists see a successful USAID Dairy Project near LahoreAmerican journalists traveled to Pakistan to gain a better understanding of the situation on the ground and explore Pakistani perspectives toward the United States. Meetings focused 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 its presence. Additionally, they had the chance to observe Pakistan’s media environment, share US perspectives and practices with Pakistani media, and discuss coverage of the United States.

The program started in the capital city of Islamabad for meetings with policymakers, political leaders, analysts, civil society organizations, US officials, and others who provided journalists with a deeper understanding of Pakistan and the Pakistan-US relationship. The high-level meetings included the US Ambassador, and the Ministers of commerce, education, foreign affairs, national development and information to learn about the new government's agenda. Journalists then traveled to Lahore, Pakistan's cultural capital, to explore economic and development issues, religion, and politics, and to better understand Pakistan’s history and culture. Field visits in Lahore included stops at a USAID Dairy project, a textile mill, a technology incubator, a foresnics laboratory, and the command and control station of the new Lahore Bus Metro Transit system.

A visit to a technology incubator in Lahore shows Pakistan’s young entrepreneurs and innovatorsThe last stop was Karachi, Pakistan’s economic hub, to learn about business relationships, and the increasingly tense dynamics of Pakistan’s largest city. The program also featured home visits with Pakistani families, a visit to a Madrassah and an opportunity to engage with a wide range of Pakistani citizens, including  students, artists, youth parliament members, activists and tech entrepreneurs.

To view photos from the 2014 Pakistan-US Journalists Exchange program, click here.  To view as a slideshow, click on the first image, select "slideshow" from the top menu, then click on the play arrow at the bottom.

Please read stories generated by the journalists in the 2014 Pakistan-US Journalists Exchange

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


Contact 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