Voice of America and the Pakistani cable TV channel, Express 24/7, celebrated the 100th edition of their groundbreaking co-production, The Platform, with a special program Tuesday featuring a live studio audience in Pakistan posing questions to guests in the United States.
Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jamie Rubin, who is now Executive Editor at Bloomberg News, and former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb, now a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, fielded a range of questions on U.S.-Pakistan relations.
Rubin, speaking from New York, said he was “very worried about the future” of relations between the two countries. He said ties have suffered since Osama bin Laden was discovered living in Pakistan and because of the perception that Pakistan is not doing enough to battle terrorist groups.
Members of the studio audience in Lahore raised the sensitive issue of U.S. drone strikes against militant targets inside Pakistan that have resulted in civilian casualties and anger about violations of Pakistan’s sovereignty.
VOA Acting Director Steve Redisch called Tuesday’s 100th episode of The Platform an “excellent example of thoughtful and informed debate that benefits all sides on an issue of critical importance to the United States, Pakistan and its neighbors.”
VOA host Kokab Farshori says the prime-time, English language show, which airs Mondays and Tuesdays, has a growing audience in Pakistan because it often “tackles topics that are not discussed” on other stations in Pakistan.
VOA’s Raza Naqvi, who also hosts the show, says The Platform offers perspective and balance that viewers “can’t get elsewhere.” Naqvi says it is the first prime-time news program in Pakistan to present U.S. policy experts who can offer counter arguments and opinions on hotly-debated issues.
The Platform is broadcast from the VOA TV studios in Washington and from the Express 24/7 studios in Lahore. Direct satellite links between the facilities and to remote locations allow hosts and guests to freely engage in debate. The program is re-broadcast on YouTube and with Urdu language subtitles on Express 24/7’s Urdu cable channel, one of Pakistan’s leading media outlets.
In addition to the live broadcast of The Platform, VOA and Express 24/7 have created a joint Facebook page for the program to facilitate an ongoing dialogue with the audience. For more on The Platform, visit www.voanews.com and click on our Urdu language page.