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Pakistan News Hunt - First Results

On Monday we kicked off our two-week Pakistan News Hunt, in partnership with the Huffington Post and its Eyes & Ears team of citizen journalists. In just a few days, we've already found some great journalism on this topic, thanks to over a hundred new HuffPost members who signed up for this investigation. Here are some of our top stories so far.

Conflict in Swat Valley
We started by comparing stories on the conflict in Swat Valley, where displaced residents have recently begun to return after months of fighting between military and Taliban forces. Although many militants have been killed or driven from the region, many returning refugees fear for their safety -- and Pakistani, U.S. and international news media offered contradictory reports on security in Swat.

The Wall Street Journal reported (NT reviews) that the Taliban has regrouped and resumed attacks on towns and villages in the past week after being scattered by the Pakistani army. Whether a last hurrah or the sign of  a new campaign, "the renewed violence is a sharp reminder that the offensive for the strategic valley, which won effusive praise from the U.S. and European nations, remains far from complete."

The Guardian and CNN painted more optimistic pictures. "Normal life was slowly percolating" in the Swat city of Mingora, The Guardian reported in a profile (NT reviews) of Pakistanis returning home from refugee camps. CNN detailed the devastation in the region, but suggested (NT reviews) that life in Swat may slowly return with the Taliban defeated.

Dawn, a mainstream English-language daily in Pakistan, also reported (NT reviews) relative calm in Mingora, "but it is too early to declare a victory. Army officials concede that the insurgents have not been completely rooted out and there are still some strong pockets of resistance ... Army claims to have eliminated second and third tiers of Taliban commanders, but the top leadership has so far survived, raising fears of insurgents regrouping once the operation is over."

Which is most credible? A blog post from CHUP -- Changing Up Pakistan analyzed recent coverage of Swat and offered (NT reviews) this conclusion:

"While there is not enough information to really separate fact from fiction, it is clear that we are far, far away from the zero-sum game of conventional warfare ... Therefore, it seems the major difference between this offensive and Pakistan’s past military operations is a deeper understanding of what constitutes a “success.” In counterinsurgency warfare, success is defined not by victories in the battle space, but the ability to maintain security in its aftermath."

U.S. Role in Pakistan
U.S. involvement in Pakistan was the focus of yesterday's news comparison. As the United States sends more troops to neighboring Afghanistan, how is the Obama Administration working to cooperate with the Pakistani government and influence its regional policy with neighbors like India?

The LA Times ran a story (NT reviews) quoting several U.S. and Pakistani military sources who said intelligence sharing and military cooperation have increased between the two countries. And the Washington Post reported on (NT reviews) attempts by Congress to pass legislation that would provide economic relief to Pakistani business -- legislation Pakistani businessmen have rejected as ineffective.

With regard to India, Frontline (India) wrote (NT reviews) the best approach for the United States is a subtle one:

"The idea of “quiet diplomacy” and “behind the scenes” action is very much the hallmark of the Obama approach ... most analysts recognise that the United States’ foreign policy has framed a considerable part of India-Pakistan relations, and given this, the gentle nudge from Washington plays an immense role both in Islamabad and in New Delhi."


Join the News Hunt
Can you help us find the best news and opinion on the critical situation in Pakistan? To join us, all you need to do is sign up (or log in), then review (or submit) a story on our Pakistan topic page.

Our Pakistan News Hunt with Huffington Post and Eyes & Ears will continue through the end of next week, Sunday August 9th. This week we will compare news and opinion on Pakistani refugees, Af-Pak relations, the Pakistani government and other related issues, as covered by global and local news media. 

Next week, we will compare independent and mainstream coverage of Pakistan, as well as reports from Pakistani publications vs. U.S. and international sources. With that in mind, we encourage you to review stories from local publications in Pakistan, including: Dawn, The News, The Nation, The Daily Times, The Frontier Post, Business Recorder, The Daily Mail, Pakistani Times, The Friday Times, Pakistan News, Pak Observer - and blogs like All Things Pakistan, Chapati Mystery, Changing Up Pakistan (CHUP), Pakistan Policy and Five Rupees

Thanks to our Partners
We're very grateful to our partners at Huffington Post: Matt Palevsky (director of Eyes & Ears) and Hanna Ingber Win (editor of the HuffPost's World section) and their team of citizen journalists and researchers, for joining forces with us on this Pakistan News Hunt. It's a true pleasure to be working with such a dynamic group, and we're all learning a lot from each other. Our partnership is based on a shared commitment to a 'smart crowdsourcing' approach -- engaging professionals as well as amateurs in a focused collaboration that helps us all get informed as a community.

Top Stories on Innovation

Last week, as the country celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, we turned our attention to Innovation. We compared stories on the future of NASA, health care innovation, media innovation and more. Check out our full listing of last week's top stories on Innovation.

-- Derek Hawkins, with Fabrice Florin, Kaizar Campwala and Joey Baker



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