Last summer Pakistan native Meeran Karim ’13 found herself standing at the gas station at the intersection of Durrand and Shalimar roads in central Lahore. Assigned to interview motorists, Karim was compiling a televised report on the effects rising gas prices were having on Pakistan’s drivers.
As an intern in the reporting department at Dawn News TV—Pakistan’s first 24-hour English-language news and current affairs channel—she was given the opportunity to explore previously unfamiliar dimensions of Pakistani society. While some news stories she reported were predictable, others were unexpected.
For example, "I had assignments that led me to reporting on the surprisingly popular pet care industry in Pakistan," she said. "I really found myself taken aback by the level of enthusiasm exhibited by the Kennel Club of Pakistan's fairly large membership."
When not covering championship dog shows in the Punjab, Karim was tackling the more serious business of Pakistani domestic politics and national security concerns. She was asked to report on a series of bombings that targeted Pakistan's minority Ahmadi Muslim community, to edit reports on flood relief efforts, and to coordinate meetings with regional political figures. The experience sharpened her awareness of the problems that plague Pakistani society and motivated her to pursue a career in journalism to also raise the awareness of her fellow citizens.
"Especially now, the media has really begun to occupy an influential role in informing the Pakistani public and holding the political class accountable. I was grateful to have the opportunity to in some small way contribute to that process of increasing transparency," she said.
From a young age, Karim has been involved in social and political activism. Her previous experience as an intern at the AGHS legal aid cell run by 2009 MHC Global Scholar-in-Residence Asma Jahangir—an organization that provides free legal aid to abused women—was formative in sparking her passion for promoting civic engagement and women's empowerment. Chosen as a Global Changemaker by the British Council in 2008, Karim represented Pakistani youth at the 39th Annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and advocated for better governance and increased civil and political rights in her home country.
At Mount Holyoke, Karim has channeled that civic fervor into her position on the board of Kuch Karo: Pakistani Students for Change, a student organization committed to promoting political awareness and participation as a means of confronting some of Pakistan's most significant challenges.
According to Karim, a politics major, her internship experience was not only valuable in honing her skills as a journalist, it also helped make her a better student of South Asian politics and a more informed citizen.
"Reporting in Pakistan was very much a grassroots experience. What was really great was that after expanding my knowledge about the dynamics at work in South Asian societies through many of the politics and history courses I have taken at Mount Holyoke, I was then able to observe those dynamics firsthand over the course of my internship," she said.