From staff reports
Altaf Khan, a visiting Fulbright Scholar from Pakistan, will attempt to distinguish fact from fiction in an International Studies forum on "The human face of FATA: People, life and problems in the Pukhtoon populated Pakistani region bordering Afghanistan." Presented by Ohio University's Center for International Studies, the forum will take place at 3 p.m. on Friday in Walter Hall room 145.
FATA, or Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan, has drawn global media attention since the 9/11 tragedy and the arrival of military forces in Afghanistan. Khan has spent the past year at Ohio University researching how to transform FM radio station broadcasts in the northern frontier of Pakistan into forums for development. He hopes to alter the perception of the radio, showing its potential to contribute to development strategy and bring radio owners into a communal dialogue that would "serve the community in a very positive way."
"The content in many cases spread hatred -- Islamic fundamentalism and things of that sort -- that is not healthy for their own immediate environment, Pakistan, or even the whole world," Khan said.
Radio is often the first media experience for people residing in the FATA -- an area that has historically been denied access to all forms of media. Community radios can be created for less than $200, and owners have complete control over content.
Khan received his master's in journalism from the University of Peshawar, and his doctorate from the University of Leipzig. He was the first non-German member of the German Society for Journalism and Communication Science, a renowned European research organization, and the first Pakistani to get a German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) grant in social sciences.
Khan is jointly sponsored at OHIO by the Center for International Studies and the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.
"We are delighted to have Altaf with us this year," said Thomas Hodson, director of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. "He brings a timely and critical perspective from a part of the world that both journalists and average citizens need to know much more about."
While Khan feels his research will be his legacy from his stint as Fulbright Scholar, he appreciates the opportunity to engage students and faculty in discussions about misperceptions between Pakistanis and Americans -- a topic on which he intends to write in the future.
"I think that the images that we get on both sides of the divide are not the true images of people," he said.