A group of 10 broadcast journalists from Pakistan is visiting the United States on a sponsored trip from the U.S. State Department and the University of Oklahoma’s Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communications. The journalists made a stop in St. Louis and we heard from two of them on St. Louis on the Air on Wednesday.
Host Don Marsh led a discussion with Nigar Khurram, a news anchor with PTV News Peshawar, and Kashif Kamal, an assignment editor with ARY News TV, about the state of journalism in Pakistan and their impressions of the United States in its current political climate.
Khurram said that she came on the trip wanting to learn about the difference between journalism in the United States and Pakistan but that she hadn’t found much difference.
“The same type of work is going on in Pakistan,” Khurram said. “Pakistani media day-by-day matures. It is like a crawling baby, but it is becoming more mature and capable.”
Journalists in the country of Pakistan face a multitude of barriers and threats that have caused NGO Freedom House to label the country “not free” in regard to the press.
Some parts of the country have great struggles with freedom of the press, said Khurram. One journalist, who was slated to appear on St. Louis on the Air, pulled out because she worried about repercussions she might face in her district because of things she would say on air about journalism there. Khurram and Kamal, who are from a more urban district, said that press functions much better there.
Kamal said he has noticed a palpable difference in day-to-day life in Pakistan and the United States.
“It is surprising that the lifestyle of people is good and that people are living in ideal standards,” Kamal said. “Right now, we are struggling in our country to have that.”
Both were surprised by the number of Donald Trump supporters they found in Oklahoma because of the preconception they had of America as “liberal and broad-minded.”
“It was a totally different experience when I listened to the student discussions about the presidential debate, because they thought Hillary Clinton was a weak candidate and they want someone stronger, like Donald Trump. In America, male and females have equal rights but it was a different experience because Donald Trump supporters think Hillary Clinton is a woman and not as strong of a candidate.”
Kamal was pleased to see young people engaged in the American election.
Both were concerned about Donald Trump and his views and proposed policies regarding Muslims.
“Immigrants are important and play a good role in the American economy,” said Khurram. “Every Muslim, every immigrant, Indian and Asian especially, are very scared this time. Every immigrant feels insecure.”
People in Pakistan are worried about Donald Trump as well.
“All Pakistanis hate terrorism and terrorist groups because we are suffering so much,” Khurram continued. “Every time [there is an attack], we support America and American policies. We are very much worried about Donald Trump, especially.”
Khurram and Kamal also reflected on American drone strikes in Pakistan, issues they face in their country and their hopes for journalism in the interview:
St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.