ISLAMABAD: The British High Commission on Thursday held a pre-departure ceremony for seven Pakistani journalists to pursue a three-month journalism fellowship in the UK under the South Asia Journalism Programme (SAJP). British High Commissioner Phillip Barton awarded certificates to the selected journalists.
The SAJP candidates include Tariq Mahmood, Rasheed Khan Safi, Fakhar Durrani, Naureen Shams, Alefia Hussain, Nazish Zafar and Abdul Waseem Abbasi.
While congratulating the selected journalists, Barton said, “I am pleased to see the selected fellows of the journalism fellowship and the returning scholars from the Chevening one-year masters program. I want to congratulate the SAJP fellows for making it through the tough selection process. This fellowship is extremely competitive and selects the best candidates for a unique experience of professional development and cultural enlightenment in the UK in order to support the next generation of media leaders from the South-Asian region”, he said.
Barton also welcomed the Chevening class of 2014/2015, who have recently returned to Pakistan after successfully completing a one-year Masters program in the UK. He further said that the Chevening scholarship brings immediate benefits for individual scholars and long-term benefits for the UK and Pakistan by creating a wealth of shared knowledge and skills.
“Very few individuals get the opportunity to study in the UK at this level and I hope the selected candidates develop an appreciation for UK policies and approaches in order to contribute to the development of Pakistan”, he added.
Nazish Zafar, one of the seven selected candidates told The Express Tribune that she is delighted to be a part of the prestigious fellowship.
“Not only am I excited to learn the intricacies of journalism in the UK but also the cultural exchange, that will help me grow as an individual. The SAJP is also bringing in fellows from India, which is going to be an interesting exchange of ideas and themes of work”, she said.
Aasia Saail Khan, a Chevening scholarship holder who recently returned after studying at the School of Oriental and African Studies said Chevening is the best experience a Pakistani student can ask for.
“Not only does it fund your living, accommodation and tuition fee, but the wide network of Chevening fellows in the UK make it easier to network and find like-minded people to work on meaningful themes,” she said.
The fellows intend to leave for the UK in late January for the three-month fellowship at the University of Westminster in London.
SAJP is a tailor-made journalism skills development course developed by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office for high calibre journalists. The programme aims to enable journalists to explore different ways in which media can play a role in the democratic process. It also focuses on the ways in which the media are accountable and wider context within which political institutions operate.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 27th, 2015.