UNT web journal chronicles issues in Pakistan
Daniel Bissell / Staff Writer
Pakistaniaat, a free web journal with a base at UNT, shortens the nearly antipodal distance between North Texas and Pakistan.
Chief Editor Masood Ashraf Raja, an English professor at UNT, described Pakistaniaat as a web journal that reports on current events and cultural issues revolving around Pakistan.
”It’s a free academic journal, mostly publishing scholarly articles about Pakistan by Pakistani scholars,” Raja said. “We cover a wide range of humanities and social issues, and we have about 25 people from all over the world who write for us.”
Raja said he launched the journal in 2009 while working at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. After accepting a job offer at UNT he moved the publication to Denton with him in 2010.
“The English department [at UNT] offered me a job,” he said. “My wife and I really liked the town, so I took the job and moved the publication down with me.”
The journal publishes three issues a year. In addition to the publication, the site has a blog that is free and open to the public. Raja said the publication covers the more formal issues in the region, while the blog covers the day-to-day news.
“Most of the contemporary issues happening in Pakistan are covered by the blog,” he said. “U.S.-Pakistan relations, regional [Pakistani] issues…”
Pakistan and the surrounding region have been a hotspot for violence and political turmoil for decades, and American involvement in the area has increased over the last 11 years.
Possible dangers to journalists and international tourists in the region have been highlighted by Western media since the 1960s, but writers for the journal have never felt pressure about how they cover an issue, Raja said.
“We have never had to worry about drastic consequences with our journalists,” Raja said. “We generate a lot of discussion, but we have never felt the threat of violence. It is part of our mission to report with cultural sensitivity.”
UNT Director of Multicultural Programming Uyen Tran-Parsons said the publication provides students with insight about the world around them.
“125 nations are represented at UNT,” Tran said. “Pakistaniaat really helps bring that part of the world to our students.”
Raja said that the most important thing for American students to realize is the similarities, not the differences, between the United States and Pakistan.
“Since so much [regarding Pakistan] is in the news, and so much of it happens to be negative, I think that students should do their own research,” Raja said. “Since we are online, we are available anywhere Internet is available.”