On the 24th and the 25th of October 2016 Kashmir Institute of International Relations organized a 2 days’ workshop for the journalists of AJK at Pearl Continental Hotel Bhruban, Murree. Journalists affiliated to various organizations were part of the workshop and some serious concerns were pointed out and discussed very genuinely. The workshop was inaugurated on the 24th by Sardar Amjad Yousaf Khan by first off all explaining the agenda of the workshop and the overall objective of this gathering and KIIR, s vision for the journalist community of AJK. The workshop was later accompanied by Mr Altaf Hussain Wani Director Programs of KIIR who then highlighted some key areas on which the journalist should focus in the current scenario in the IOK.
Mr. Amjad Yousaf Khan Executive Director KIIR started the discussion with first of all a very brief introduction of all the participants. After the brief introduction session it was asked by the participants that how in their opinion has the death of Burhan Wani changed the overall scenario in Kashmir and the Kashmir issue itself at the international level and what changes have they witnessed after this major event in the history of Kashmir freedom struggle? The participants were also questioned if they are at individual level and organizational level satisfied with their role in the current crisis situation in Kashmir?
Syed Sammar Abbas from Dawn News and many of other journalists were of the same opinion that after Burhan Wani’s death incident the authenticity of news reported on Kashmir crisis has improved a lot. Mr. Javaid Iqbal from daily time’s parliament said that this event has led to some major changes and he has analyzed that local Media’s behavior has changed a lot. The media has been highlighting and projecting the Kashmir situation with full heart and with a motivation to support the Kashmiri brothers in the current crisis. He mentioned that in the history of the Kashmir crisis this is first time that our media, foreign office, political parties and military leadership are standing at the same page with the same policy. Raja Kashif Ahmad from Jammu Kashmir mentioned that the stand taken by the PM of Pakistan at the United Nations for Kashmir and the Kashmiri people reflects the unity of policy.
Mr. Abid Saddiq chief editor from Rawalakot AJK mentioned that it is the responsibility of the media to project the real picture and authentic news. He mentioned that it is very important to strengthen coordination with media journalists on the other side and appreciated the intra Kashmir initiative. He said media can unite people and governments of both the sides in the current crisis scenario.
Basharat Abbasi from Ausaf newspaper mentioned that Kashmir policy is not consistent at government level and there should be consistency in the policy. He said after Burhan Wani’s death the government and the policy makers have shown some maturity. He mentioned that it is the responsibility of the media to protect Kashmir cause and take it along.
Khalid Gardazi mentioned that now there is a need to work on social media i.e. Instagram, Facebook and Twitter etc. He said that social media is more powerful than conventional media and the Kashmiri journalists need to be more active on this platform as well. He said this platform should be properly utilized as well in projection of the Kashmir freedom struggle. He said that it is very important to concentrate on the capacity building of the journalist
On the 25th before the end of the workshop the journalists were divided into two groups so they can brainstorm and come up with some concrete recommendations.
Both the groups came up with some suggestions and recommendations on the role of media. Some key recommendations were:
As there is a visa issue and travelling constraints the journalist should be provided with another platform outside both India and Pakistan for Intra Kashmir journalist contact meeting.
It should be made sure that there is a regular contact between journalists of both the sides. There is an immense need to create awareness in IOK about the activities which take place here for the Kashmir cause.
Media should also give coverage to social activities such as tourism, Loc trade and bus service.
Briefing with foreign office of Kashmiri journalist (Awareness program).
The intra journalist platform should be extended and journalist from Ladakh & Gilgit Baltistan should be included in this program.
Government and other relevant institutions should work and contribute for the survival of the media as this industry is facing severe crisis. There is lack of resources for the journalists and the people who are currently engaged are working at very low compensation. Government and international organizations should facilitate this industry and the people who are working in this field.
Workshops for journalists should be held at Zila/District level.
KIIR should facilitate media/journalists by engaging corporate sector to promote media/journalism i.e. financial support from financial institutions.
In the future workshops participants should be from both AJK and Gilgit Baltistan to eliminate communication barriers.
Journalists should be entertained with proper guidelines on how they can contribute in the current crisis situation.
Government of AJK should have an official TV channel and should focus on radio as it could play a vital role in the overall Kashmir freedom struggle.
The journalist community should be linked with international group of journalists for skill enhancement.
Enhance role of social media and include Gilgit Baltistan in the social media campaigns.
Workshops should be structured on regular basis and there should be representation of journalists in international meeting/conferences.
A monitoring forum should be formulated for both sides of Kashmir to compare, share and authenticate news/information.
In future workshops there should be a mix of participants both young and senior journalists for the capacity building of the youth engaged with media industry. IT ministry should also contribute in the growth of young journalists.