Pak-Afghan Youth Dialogue II addresses the role of the media in Pakistan-Afghanistan relations in the youth perspective
The Center for Research and Security Studies conducted its second Pak-Afghan Youth Dialogue – under its initiative Afghan Studies Center – on July 24, 2017, addressing the role of the media in Pakistan and Afghanistan relations in the perspective of the youth. It was attended by fourteen participants, comprising Afghans and Pakistanis, some of whom had traveled from Gujrat, Lahore, Peshawar and Bajaur Agency, explicitly to participate in the dialogue. CRSS Executive Director Mr. Imtiaz Gul, in his opening remarks, expressed his grief over the tragic suicide bombing in Kabul the day before, and stressed that the aim of the forum was to sow the seeds of friendship and build a positive understanding between the peoples of both countries, keeping in view the continued misunderstandings and misperceptions that have persistently wreaked their bilateral relations.
Senior Journalist Mr. Tahir Khan, who holds years of experience reporting on Pakistan and Afghanistan affairs, was invited as the chief guest for the dialogue. He encouraged the Pakistani and Afghan youth to speak their minds and play a positive role on the social media and spread constructive messages of peace and harmony.
The participants were also connected through live Skype calls with Senior Afghan journalist, Mr. Danish Karokhel, Director Pajhwok Afghan News, and Mr. Mozammil Shinwari, former Afghan Deputy Minister for Trade and Commerce, from Afghanistan. Mr. Karokhel was of the view that the youth, civil society and the media should take on a responsible role and put pressure on their governments to adopt positive narratives and engage in cooperative measures with each other, reminding that the two were neighbors as well as Muslim states. Mr. Mozammil Shinwari appreciated the participants on their eagerness and emphasized on the need for more similar forums for the youth to come forward and raise their voices.
During the debate, both Pakistani and Afghan participants highlighted the irresponsible role played by the rating-focused media on both sides in shaping narratives and perceptions in bilateral relations. Some participants particularly pointed out the impact of the use of words in the media in molding the mindsets of the ordinary people, stating that responsible reporting could correct many misperceptions in both countries. Others highlighted that while the Afghan media broadcasts several Indian TV channels, there is none from Pakistan except Geo News which leaves the ordinary Afghans with little to view Pakistan as a country, other than from Indian or Afghan news sources. The participants urged the media of both countries to broadcast Pakistani and Afghan channels on both sides.
The session concluded with participants sharing their recommendations for the media of both countries and adopting a resolution to play their role as proactive youth to promote messages of peace, cooperation and friendship between the two neighbors using the platform of social media. The session was part of the ongoing series of Pak-Afghan Youth Dialogue initiated by CRSS’ Afghan Studies Center which is aimed at promoting academic, cultural and sports exchanges between the youth of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and creating young leaders who can become advocates of peace in the region.