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Pakistani Journalists in Washington, D.C.

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Ann Hartman, FOPUSA Board Member and staff at the East-West Center of the University of Hawaii is leading a group of journalists for a three-week period to several cities in the US – Honolulu, Washington, DC, New York City and Columbus, Missouri. The Pakistanis are part of an exchange program with journalists from the US visiting Pakistan.IMG_1467

Barbara Janes, Sandra Houts and Millard Mott from the FOPUSA Board met with the journalists in DC for a long lunch at the Capitol Hill Tandori and Grill Restaurant.

The lunch with the 12 Pakistani journalists was wonderfully lively and open and instructive. They were energetic and diverse in their opinions. Three of the journalists were women.

The women’s experiences were very different in all respects—family support, manner of dress, and choices in their beats. On the other hand, they experience good relationships with their male peers—and, the males around us agreed that the female journalists also treat them well! The field of journalism has welcomed women only in the last decade or so—but, it’s happened.

IMG_1473There were comments from the journalists that were both sad and inspiring:

“I had to go on a hunger strike to get my father’s support to become a journalist.” – from one of the women.

 “There isn’t a neighborhood in Peshawar that hasn’t been bombed. But people carry on with their lives.”

“I’ve been surprised by the government structure in the U.S. The States have a lot of independence from the Federal Government.”

“I’ve learned how important a civil society is to support a democratic government.”

“There has been some progress in Pakistan. The Supreme Court is now truly independent.”

The journalists were from several parts of Pakistan – Lahore, Quetta, Waziristan, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Karachi. There were five from Peshawar. They were in good humor, teased each other, – just generally fun conversations while learning about the contemporary Pakistan. We talked about safety in all the cities; the consensus apparently is that no one is safe, though some places are less so.IMG_1477

Most of the journalists thought there would be no problems going anyplace in Pakistan except Azad Kashmir and Peshawar; even Quetta was thought to be open to tourists but not journalists.

The Pakistani meal we shared with them was tasty and reminiscent of our earlier days in Pakistan and appreciated by the journalists. They were impressed and a little surprised to meet a group of folks who had experienced Pakistan the way we had.

 

Millard MottPakistani Journalists in Washington, D.C.

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  • Ghayour Abbas - April 12, 2014 reply

    Thanks to FOP-USA and US govt. for this kind of activity. journalists and people to people contact can really change the perceptions.
    Pakistani journalists/electronic media is very good in Urdu programs means at National level they are good but at international level like international debates/media reports they need a bit time to show the world that 180 million people are lovely, friendly, supporting education not the supporters of Terrorism.
    wish you all the Best.
    Best Regards,
    Ghayour Abbas, AJ&K (Pakistan)
    Volunteer for FOP-USA

  • Millard Mott - April 12, 2014 reply

    Ghayour, thanks for your comments. Hope we can encourage more discussion and posts on our website.

  • Carol Cespedes - April 14, 2014 reply

    I hope we can continue our dialogue with the journalists. I think that in a place like Pakistan, the profession attracts idealists, at least a few of whom are willing to speak out against entrenched interests. But, as in own country, they have to calculate risks.

    Thoughtful Pakistanis do differentiate between the American people and the policy of the US government. After an experience like this journalist exchange , we can hope for a better understanding of how the American public interact and influence their lawmakers – and of the challenges that this country must address.

    Carol Cespedes

  • Bob Morris - June 9, 2014 reply

    It was also a pleasure for my wife Susanne and I to host two of these journalists at our home. We arranged to have an executive and a journalist from the Gannett papers syndicate join us for dinner with them and hope that the visiting journalists get many such experiences during their travels here for such interchange with colleagues in their profession for the benefit of all.

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