The first ever cross Line of Control (LoC) forum for journalists took place at the end of August in Islamabad. The Kashmir Institute of International Relations (KIIR) and Centre for Peace, Development and Reforms (CPDR) organised for a delegation of twelve journalists to attend. The group of journalists from the Indian side of Kashmir brought together some of the most eminent names in the field, including Shujaat Bukhari, Iftikhar Gillani, Mahmud-ur-Rashid and Shahana Bashir who met their counterparts from Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
Supported by Conciliation Resources, the forum aimed to analyse the role of media on both sides of Kashmir in the context of peacebuilding in the region. The forum explored practical ways of coordination and cooperation between journalists in order to play a proactive and constructive role on issues of mutual concern. Given the region is prone to natural disasters, as evident from the 2005 earthquake and recent floods, which caused massive devastation on both sides, discussions also focused on ways to improve early warning and crisis preparedness were identified to make their management more effective.
Our work in Kashmir has created unique opportunities for dialogue among diverse groups including youth, women, journalists and business people. It is hoped that over time that bold initiatives such as the intra-Kashmir journalist forum will contribute to a better understanding of different perspectives on the conflict and lead to enduring relationships across the Line of Control.
Tahir Aziz, Conciliation Resources, South Asia Programme Director
The meeting provided a platform for the journalists to share their perspectives on various issues and explore potential areas of mutual cooperation, such as peace journalism and conflict sensitive reporting as well as building strong relationships across the divide.
The exchange visit had immense importance given the current stalemate in peace talks between India and Pakistan and particularly in light of an upcoming meeting between the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan on 23 August in New Delhi. This was made more evident with the presence of civil society, politicians, academicians and key policymakers at the event.
No one can tell my story better than me because for the last twenty three years I have witnessed and experienced things in my own way by living in the conflict region. Similarly other people of my generation have their own stories. Our issues are wider and more complex than what usually gets highlighted. This Intra Kashmir Journalists’ meet, is a rare opportunity for me to express myself, present my narrative and share my views.
Rifat Mohidin, Freelance Journalist, Indian side of Kashmir
To me this intra Kashmir workshop is a ground breaking initiative in the history of Kashmir conflict. This is an opportunity for journalists from both sides of Kashmir to understand each other, build linkages and get credible and reliable information about the issues and perceptions of the other side.
Amina Aamir, Correspondent Bol News, Islamabad