An American in Islamabad

Mar 282014
  • U.S.-Pakistan Professional Partnership in Journalism participant Tonya Alanez with fellow journalists in Pakistan in February 2014 (Tonya Alanez / Sun Sentinel, 2014)

Ten American journalists returned from Pakistan in mid-February after touring the country for two weeks under ICFJ’s U.S.-Pakistan Professional Partnership in Journalism. From Karachi to Islamabad and places in between, the group met with government ministers, visited development projects and even took tea at the home of Imran Khan – the former cricketer and Pakistani politician.

But for Tonya Alanez, a crime reporter for Florida’s Sun Sentinel newspaper, the reality of the danger faced daily by Pakistani journalists is what stuck in her mind.

“When I and nine other American journalists set off for the troubled region, I knew that members of the Pakistani press were routinely intimidated, threatened, kidnapped and killed. But it was an abstract kind of knowing.”

Describing her visit to The Express Tribune, a leading Pakistani newspaper, Alanez was impressed by “the pluck and resilience of the [paper’s] close-knit, youthful staff.” On January 17, less than a month before Alanez’s visit, three staffers of the paper lost their lives when they were gunned down in an attack by the Pakistani Taliban.

Put simply, “[t]hey risk their lives to report truth,” Alanez said of her Pakistani counterparts. Read a full account of her experience here.