The highly respected Pakistani editor Ayesha Haroon first
came to CPJ's New York office in July 2011, along with her husband, Faisal Bari,
and Absar Alam, both of whom work for the Open Society Foundations. We talked
about ways to confront the dangerous conditions facing Pakistani journalists. It
was a bad year: Seven journalists would be killed before 2011 concluded, making
Pakistan the deadliest nation in the world for the press. The year before,
eight had died.
It was a great discussion, genuinely exciting, as we talked through possible ideas. Ayesha was a quiet presence at first, but as ideas started flowing, she served as a reality checker for the rest of us. We all knew there are no quick solutions to the problems for journalists in Pakistan, so we looked for practical projects that would tackle them in the mid- or long-term. The meeting ended, the email trails followed, a plan evolved. In the months after, my family lost my 97-year-old mother, and I received gracious notes from the people who had been at that first meeting.