PR

ISLAMABAD

Diplomats from member countries of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and the European Union lauded South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA)’s efforts for peace and cooperation in South Asia and expressed their support to its future plans.

At a briefing, SAFMA Secretary General Imtiaz Alam shared with the envoys details of the association’s activities during the last 14 years since its inception.

SAFMA, an association of journalists from across South Asia , was formed on July 2, 2000 in Islamabad by the delegates attending the First South Asian Free Media Conference (SAFMC).

The founding conference evolved a programme, “Media Development, Freedom and Peace in South Asia”, which focused on pursuing two-fold objectives: a) media development, the free flow of and access to information and a free, professionally competent, unbiased and independent media in the region; and (b) promoting a culture of dialogue and an environment for understanding, tolerance, peace, conflict resolution and cross-border cooperation leading towards a South Asian union and help bring an end to the menace of extremism and terrorism.

Since then SAFMA has been established in all the eight member countries of SAARC, with elected national chapters and offices in all countries of the region. The South Asia Media Centre was also established in Lahore from where the SAFMA Central Secretariat operates. It is recognised by SAARC as an associated body.

The Action Plan approved by the Information Ministers of SAARC has been implemented by SAFMA, by establishing a South Asian Media Centre, South Asian Media Net, the South Asian Journal, South Asia Media School and various journalists exchanges and Editors conferences.

So far, SAFMA has held eight regional South Asian Free Media Conferences, five SAARC Journalists Summits, two Indo-Pak conferences, two South Asian conferences, two Pak-Afghan Parliamentary conference and various sub-regional exchanges to promote a free media, peace and regional/sub-regional cooperation such as Dhaka-Kolkata, Mumbai-Karachi, Punjab-Punjab and Kashmir-Kashmir exchanges.

SAMC: SAFMA has helped establish the South Asia Media Commission (SAMC) in all eight countries and at the regional level to monitor attacks on the Press and to audit media content. It has held two regional conferences that have elected successive regional executive bodies with representation from major media bodies and the civil society. The South Asia Media Monitor, which covers attacks on journalists and audits media content, has completed 10 years of publication.

SAWM: SAFMA has also backed leading women journalists by establishing South Asia Women in Media (SAWM) to mainstream gender issues and ensure greater participation of women journalists. SAWM now has a regional executive body with eight national chapters. SAWM members are also members of SAFMA and it works in close collaboration with SAFMA.

SAPANA: The South Asian Policy Analysis (SAPANA) network – a virtual think-tank and network of experts, academics and researchers – has produced the high-quality research-based South Asian Media series consisting of 13 books on major policy issues facing South Asia . Another research-based series on seven major subjects is under preparation and is to be published in the South Asian Journal as well as in book form.

South Asian Journal: SAFMA’s joint media productions have had a positive impact on South Asia . The South Asian Journal has maintained its high quality and covering cross-cutting themes. Top experts, academicians, researchers and editors contribute to the Journal, which has a vast readership across the region.

The Journal has focused on major regional and national policy issues to overcome the information deficit and create broader understanding on inter- and intra-state issues.South Asian Media Net: South Asian Media Net has been online for over 12 years.

This news and views website is updated daily to provide one window to all the South Asian countries. It has been renovated with audio-video facilities at www.southasianmedia.net.

South Asian Media School (SAMS): SAMS, which was established to train and educate young journalists across the region, has been successfully undertaking eight-week, five-week and one-week certificate courses under the supervision of a well established faculty and international instructors. SAMS will be expanding its training program to six-month and one-year diploma courses in collaboration with top media organisations in the world.

Ambassador of Nepal, Bharat Raj Paudyal, High Commissioner of India, TCA Raghavan, High Commissioner of Bangladesh Suhrab Hosein, Ambassador of Japan, Hiroshi Inomata, Ambassador of Sweden, Tomas Rosander, Ambassador of European Union, Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, Ambassador of Myanmar Win Naing, Deputy Head of the Mission Iran, Mehdi Abadi, Country Director UNDP, Marc-Andre Franche and representatives of China and United Kingdom were present on the occasion.