“It is a critically important visit that comes at a difficult time for the bilateral relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” said Mirco Günther, Resident Representative of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) in Afghanistan. “Along with our partners in both countries, we firmly believe that media has a key role to play in promoting dialogue on peace and security in the region.”
FES had the privilege to welcome a group of prominent journalists from Pakistan for a comprehensive dialogue program in Kabul. Jointly organized by the FES-supported Afghanistan and Pakistan Policy Groups in Kabul and Islamabad, the 13-person group included some of the most popular TV anchors and newspaper editors from across all regions of Pakistan, among them Asma Shirazi, Saleem Safi and Hamid Mir of Aaj TV and Geo News.
The delegation from Pakistan was headed by renowned journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai, Resident Editor at The News International, and hosted by Fahim Dashty, Executive Director of the Afghanistan National Journalists Union.
Throughout their busy five-day schedule, the delegation held meetings with many high-level government officials, including Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, High Peace Council Chairman Mohammad Karim Khalili, Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, Minister for Refugees and Repatriation Sayed Hussain Alemi Balkhi and Deputy Minister of Information and Culture Sayed Sancharaki.
The program in Kabul followed an earlier visit of a group of Afghan journalists to Pakistan and talks in Islamabad and Lahore in March this year. In a next step, both groups are now set to jointly draft a memorandum of understanding addressing key challenges for media to work in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
They also engaged in discussions with members of parliament, leading civil society activists, human rights advocates, young professionals and senior Afghan journalists. Along with their colleagues, they participated in talk show formats at the leading national channels Ariana News and Tolo TV, as well as Zan TV—Afghanistan’s first all-women TV station.
In an effort to reach out to the Afghan public, both sides encouraged a robust and constructive debate about critical challenges confronting the two countries; including countering transnational terrorism, ways to promote the peace process, overcoming obstacles to closer economic cooperation, mitigating the humanitarian situation of refugees and displaced people, and jointly addressing commonly-held misperceptions and stereotypes.
The program in Kabul followed an earlier visit of a group of Afghan journalists to Pakistan and talks in Islamabad and Lahore in March this year. In a next step, both groups are now set to jointly draft a memorandum of understanding addressing key challenges for media to work in both countries for the attention of their governments, including proposals to reduce charges and addressing the issue of land rights for TV channels and newspapers from both countries to air and circulate freely.
FES provides a neutral platform for discussing perspectives and strategies for constructive conflict resolution in Afghanistan and its neighbourhood. With tailored dialogue initiatives, the FES regional program brings together seasoned politicians, senior officials, leading policy experts and journalists from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Central Asia. Together, they develop solution-oriented policy recommendations on issues of national and regional importance, including in the areas of economic cooperation, refugees and humanitarian affairs and confidence-building measures to enhance security. ###
For more information on the work of FES in Afghanistan, contact the Mirco Günther, Resident Representative of FES in Afghanistan.
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