Afghan journalists call for cultural harmony

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By Ayesha Hasan/Taha Siddiqui
BARAGALI: 

In an effort to bridge the gap between Afghanistan and Pakistan, 11 Afghan journalists arrived in Baragali on Monday in the second phase of a journalist exchange programme titled ‘Understanding the Neighbour.’

The nine-day fellowship will entail discussions, presentations, research and report writing with their 11 Pakistani counterparts.

Chairman of the Afghan Journalists Committee and one of the participants, Malik Faisal Moonzajer, said his perception about Pakistan has changed a lot during the first three days of the fellowship programme in Kabul.

Pakistani participants were simultaneously trained in Baragali about Afghanistan and Pakistan’s political, social and cultural aspects.

A young journalist from Sare Pol in northern Afghanistan, Moonzajer said people back home mostly consider Pakistan as the “enemy”.

“I have learned that there have been some misunderstandings between the people of the two countries. I now know Pakistan is not the enemy country,” he added.

Moonzajer said they met the Pakistani Ambassador in Afghanistan, Mohammad Sadiq, during the workshop. Quoting the ambassador, he said the Pakistani government had offered several scholarships to students in Afghan universities, but they never found out about it.  If the connections between our governments do not work, he suggested, such offers should be made through other channels “that work”.

Parveen Malal, cultural attaché of the Afghan Consulate in Peshawar, said things have changed in her country. “The fact that a woman is at the position I am says a lot about how the Afghan society is progressing,” she added.

Farkhanda Rajabe, the only female participant from Afghanistan, said preconceived notions in her minds have been removed after her personal interaction with her Pakistani counterparts.

Published In The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2012.

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