Representing our real selves

I have learnt things about India and Afghanistan that are never shown by our media. Why don't they tell the truth?

Ayesha Jehangir October 18, 2011
While the US makes a ‘strategic deal’ with India to send the latter’s military to Afghanistan to train soldiers there, and also improve mutual trade relations, and Pakistan observes with uneasiness and helplessness, I, at Deutsche Welle, Bonn, begin to start working on a joint project with an Afghan and an Indian colleague on representing a positive image of our countries and the trilateral connection among the three neighbours.

With an aim to endorse our individual countries and prepare a group project about the three ‘most-in-the-news’ nations, us three have got together in Germany to work amiably, peacefully and, most important, coherently. We have no hidden agendas, we do not make under-the-table-deals, we do not conceal information from each other, and definitely do not make each other’s professional challengers, if any, our friends. We are here to represent our people, who are desperate for peaceful, inter-state relationships.

We work and live as a team. We hang out together, eat together, work together and guide each other when needed. We prefer to acclimatise ways that are suitable and acceptable to all three of us and often that requires sitting together and talking things out. We talk about the similarities among us and our people rather than the differences; we talk about culture, education, trade, tourism and society rather than arguing over religion and politics.

It has been just a week and we already know new things about each other’s countries; and to our surprise, things that are never shown by the media and politicians. Currently, what the masses know about the three countries is that there is an American war in Afghanistan and that India after settling an approximately $2 billion aid deal with the US is now ready to send its military to train Afghan soldiers against the Haqqanis and the Northern Alliance, once America’s blue-eyed boys.


Not many of us know that Afghan co-ed universities are blooming with students aiming at foreign universities and already working in various fields across the country. How many of us know that women and men study together without any differences any more in and outside their country, they work together and compete for excellence; and that most of them know how to speak Urdu, besides fluent English. And that most of them feel much more relieved than before with the American intervention in their country.

At least I didn't.
Ayesha Jehangir A sub-editor on the Lahore desk of The Express Tribune. She graduated from Kinnaird College with a masters in mass communication and is a Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Fellow of Journalism at DW, Bonn.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Anoop | 12 years ago | Reply @Hmmm: You have the demographics of Afghanistan totally wrong. These are roughly the correct figures: Pashtun 42%, Tajik 27%, Hazara 9%, Uzbek 9%, Aimak 4%, Turkmen 3%, Baloch 2%, other 4%. Even UN accepts these figures in its reports about Afghanistan. If the Taliban are so powerful and popular, then they can easily contest elections in Afghanistan. Last time I heard they refused to. Taliban rule in Afghanistan was pretty much the same as their rule in Swat and other areas in Pakistan. How utterly hypocritical is for you to reject Taliban in Pakistan, but support them in Afghanistan. Who would want their Children and Women at the mercy of the Taliban? What woman would want to roam around with a Burqa and being confined to the 4 walls of her house?
Doctor | 12 years ago | Reply @ Hmm - you are one of those people who think the Ummah all feels the same way. You were one of those people who couldn't understand why Bengalis wanted independence. You just don't get how the world works. What on earth does it mean that the "Sunni / Pashtun want to live like Muslims"? Do you even have half of a clue what you're talking about? You're just spewing garbage. Did you go interview the Pashtun? Were they not "living like Muslims" before the Taliban? They were happy. The USSR should not have invaded but Afghans were happy in the 50s and 60s. They weren't forced to wear long beards and stop listening to music. They were fine being Muslims then. The Taliban want to enforce a viewpoint held by very few people. Do you "live like a Muslim" hmm? If so, you shouldn't be using the internet. The Taliban would not like that. Furthermore, your assumption that all Pashtuns want the Taliban is flat out wrong. The Taliban were incredibly brutal. Many Pashtuns left and became refugees right in our Pakistan. We Pakistanis delusionally believe that the Pashtuns want the Taliban back. They don't. Just like all countries, they want a true democratic government. Karzai is corrupt. No doubt about that. That being said, most Pashtuns still prefer Karzai to the Taliban. Finally, don't forget that (a) Kabul is a huge portion of the total population of Afghanistan and (b) Kabul is primarily a Pashtun city. The people of Kabul DO NOT want the Taliban back. You have no statistics behind you. Just lies we're taught by ISPR and madmen like Zaid Hamid. I had statistics and logic. When you get an argument, come back for air and we can have a discussion.
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