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Pakistan in the Media: Changing Narrative, bringing in new voices

This panelist session as part of the series of events between the RSA, the Samosa and City University London focused on the current young generation of British South Asians and how their role in the media is helping shape the relationship between Britain and Pakistan.

Terrorism, corruption, extremism and poverty, there are currently plenty of negative news stories surrounding Pakistan and Pakistani communities. However, there are an increasing number of young citizen journalists, activists, writers and artists openly discussing the nature of these issues and in so doing challenging stereotypes and helping to combat pockets of extremism on all sides. To what extent is this young generation helping frame the current discourse on Pakistan both in the UK and abroad?

The panel discussed whether this new media generation have the full support of cultural and political leaders within Pakistani communities and British society, the extent to which British Pakistanis and British Indians work together to help conflict resolution in South Asia; as well as exploring what more can be done to encourage the young generation to positively engage with these issues. Are the British Pakistani community and other South Asian Diaspora communities fairly represented across industry, arts and the media professions? What more can be done to address any inequalities and dissociation?

Chaired by Author and ex- visiting Professor of City University Professor Ziauddin Sardar, featuring journalists, bloggers and film makers including Medhi Hasan, Senior Editor, New Statesman; Zachary Latif, Brown Pundits Blog; Mobeen Azhar, Assistant Producer, BBC Current Affairs; Nayha Kalia, Editor, The Samosa; Homa Khaleeli, Commissioning Editor, Guardian G2 and Saima Mohsin, Presenter Channel 4 news.

Ziauddin Sardar is a London-based scholar, writer and cultural-critic who specialises in Muslim thought, the future of Islam, futures studies and science and cultural relations. Prospect magazine has named him as one of Britain’s top 100 public intellectuals’ and The Independent newspaper calls him ‘Britain’s own Muslim polymath’. He is the author of over 40 books, including ‘Balti Britain, a Provocative Journey Through Asian Britain’, ‘Breaking the Monolith – Essays, Articles and Columns on Islam, India, Terror and Other Things That Annoy Me’ and ‘The No Nonsense Guide to Islam and Islam, Postmodernism and Other Futures’. He also presented the BBC documentary ‘The battle for Islam’ in 2005 and ‘Between the Mullahs and the Military’, a Channel Four Dispatches documentary on Pakistan in 2007.

Mobeen Azhar is an assistant producer for BBC Current Affairs, a journalist and film maker. He has reported for ‘5 Live Investigates’ and the ‘File on 4’ strand for Radio 4 as well as BBC One’s ‘The One Show’. He has co-produced landmark documentary strands across BBC1 and BBC2 including ‘Adopting Abroad’, ‘Generation Jihad’ and ‘Gandhi: The Making of the Mahatma’.

Mehdi Hasan is senior editor (politics) at the New Statesman and a former news and current affairs editor at Channel 4. He is co-author of ‘Ed: the Milibands’ and ‘The Making of a Labour Leader’. He is a frequent participant on BBC TV and radio current affairs panel shows including Question Time and Any Questions.

Homa Khaleeli is commissioning editor and writer at the Guardian. Her interests include South Asian fiction, feminism and the Islamic world – but she has written about everything from EastEnders to Iranian rap. Her work has been included in ‘Women of the Revolution’, an anthology of 40 years of the Guardian’s women’s pages. Homa has also written for the Times Literary Supplement, The Dawn, and has broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

Zachary Latif is a banker who has been in credit trading for a decade. He writes for and has been hugely involved in the blogosphere post 9-11 writing on both Pakistan and the British Pakistani community. He is also a founder of Pakistan International People’s Association (PIPA).

Nayha Kalia is the editor of The Samosa. Nayha studied journalism at the University of Sheffield. She has written news, features and travel articles for regional and national media including the Guardian and Times of India. She has also worked on documentaries about religion, international corruption and development with two award-winning production companies – Crescent Films and Guardian Films.

Saima Mohsin is a British journalist, most recently presenting the Channel 4 News with Jon Snow. She has spent the last four years in Pakistan as senior anchor at Dawn News & later special correspondent for PBS Newshour. As the face of Pakistan’s first English news channel, Saima has interviewed key people involved in the region like Benazir Bhutto, Hillary Clinton, David Miliband & Richard Holbrooke. She has a unique insight into the country’s social and political issues and the role the media has played in this developing nation.

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