Media, information and new technologies have the capacity to influence social change because of their broad reach and powerful impact.
In Afghanistan today independent media is playing a critical role. It holds government accountable by exposing corruption and incompetence; it introduces new societal concepts, including women’s rights, through soap opera narratives; and through the unlikely vehicle of an American Idol spin off, Afghan Star, it inculcates the practice and principles of merit-based competition and civic participation.
The conversation ranged from the role of independent media in holding government accountable, fostering critical thinking, and empowering women to the most effective strategy for the United States in supporting independent media and the societal changes it promotes.
Discussion focused on the emerging new approach to “strategic communication” from the State Department, which emphasizes empowering local voices and organizations more than advocating American policies.
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[The duplicity of Pakistan's intelligence services was] baked into the stock price of U.S.-Pakistan relations. They were at times minimally responsive, but we always hit a wall. The outstanding list of Al Qaeda-affiliated figures [still operating in Pakistan] is small. But the Haqqani list is moving in the other direction.