By Genevieve Long for the Foreign Policy Association
Masooma Haq is a foreign correspondent for The Epoch Times, based in Islamabad, Pakistan. She writes on foreign affairs and human interest. Haq is ethnically Pakistani, but was raised in the west, mostly in the U.S. A few years ago, she moved back to Pakistan to live and work.
Why did you start writing for The Epoch Times?
“I feel like there isn’t a lot of in-depth or accurate reporting about Pakistan, and I wanted to help give a more accurate perspective [through this newspaper]. My view is not eastern and not western, kind of a combination. I think I have a really interesting perspective–kind of unique. I think a lot of people that grow up in the states have a western perspective.”
What is the mission of your newspaper as you understand it?
“Overall, the aim of the paper is to have really truthful reporting that focuses more on human rights. Most newspapers have an agenda. There’s a lot of things they just won’t cover and write about. One of the biggest issues in the world right now is Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa, and a lot of newspapers won’t cover that honestly, but The Epoch Times does. I think a lot of newspapers won’t cover that because they are too afraid to cover it. That’s one really important and prime example of how The Epoch Times is different.”
How does that play into your reporting in a country like Pakistan that is mostly Muslim?
“I know The Epoch times is interested in creating understandings between people. That’s what I try to do in my reporting—I try to look at things from a slightly different vantage point. I think, ‘How can I tell this in a way that can create understanding between people?’. So consequently the starting point is different. Are you just going to copy what language other people are using, or are you going to find your own language for the situation. What I find with a lot of news writing is there is a lot of copying. I think it takes a different perspective and a lot of work to find that and then try to communicate that to people. Especially about this region.”
You have diff perspectives, east/west, you are woman? How do you do it?
“I think there probably aren’t as many challenges as people think there are. There are unwritten cultural norms here that once you get used to, a woman can go out in public and talk to different people, as long as the role is really clear. There are situations where I won’t go by myself. For example, I wouldn’t be able to walk into a mosque and interview a man, that’s not possible. I wouldn’t be able to report it, it’s just not acceptable. But I could interview a man in the street as long as I bring a companion along. A female approaching a man on the street is not acceptable, so you have to create a context for that [by bringing a companion]. You rarely see women out in public. You do see women, but it’s either eating with their family at certain times of the day, or you see them shopping at certain times of the day, but normally you just see men.”
What types of stories do you typically report on?