I’m traveling through Pakistan with nine other journalists from various news organizations in the United States. The International Center for Journalists is sponsoring this trip as part of its three-year program to expose journalists from both countries to each others’ newsrooms and foster better understanding between the two countries.
It’s been a wild trip so far. Since we’ve arrived in Islamabad, we’ve met with the head of Pakistan’s Planning Commission, the Pakistan Press Council, the National Defense University, the Ministry of Information and Broadcast, Dawn Newspaper TV and Radio, the editor of the News International, Pakistan Television Network, and several other places.
At every stop, we’ve have been welcomed generously. In Pakistan, there’s a tradition of hospitality. Even in the briefest meeting, there’s been time for tea and cookies. At others, full meals. For the foodies out there, that has been a revelation: since it is very early in the morning as I write, I cannot find the words except to say it’s delicious – spicy, aromatic, varied and plenty of barbecue! Fresh fruit vendors are on many street corners and the fruit juice appears to be a point of national pride.
We’ve learned so much from the people we’ve met. There is much more to learn. This is a big country: 180 million people and counting. We’ve been told over and over that Pakistan has a complicated culture and that the West, the U.S. in particular, has much to learn. The U.S. doesn’t disagree. In fact, a briefing at the State Department before we left told us pretty much the same thing.
There’s lots more to write – and learn – but I’ve got to dash – another long day planned! Meantime, follow #uspak on Twitter for more updates.