The Impact of Arts, Culture, and Media in Afghanistan and Pakistan: Implications for U.S. Policy

Principal Investigator:
Cynthia P. Schneider, CPD Research Fellow, 2009-2011

Contributing Researcher:
Fatana Temory

Past Contributing Researcher:
Justin Rashid

Project Overview

This project assessed the impact of arts, culture, and media in Afghanistan and Pakistan, with the goal of developing recommendations for U.S. public diplomacy policy towards each country. Researchers approached public diplomacy in a manner that focused on empowering local voices, as opposed to simply promoting American ideas.

The focus on exploring how independent voices in media and the arts can hold governments accountable, as well as foster social change, was an integral component to this research. In this respect, two specific points of interest were monitored: 1) how arts, culture, and media strengthen voices of moderation 2) how they add a sense of national identity against the Taliban incursion in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and 3) exploring how the intersection of the arts, media and society functions in urban and rural settings, from television, to social networking and the traditional arts.


This research was measured through the following outputs:

1) a policy memo with recommendations on the integration of knowledge about arts, culture, and media into U.S. policies for the Afghanistan/Pakistan region;

2) specific policy recommendations to support local arts, culture, and media in these countries; and

3) programmatic ideas, potentially using U.S. assets in arts, culture, and media, including new media, to support, and possibly collaborate with counterparts in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The policy memo included a discussion of the implications of integrating an awareness of and attention to arts, culture, and media into U.S. policy regarding Afghanistan and Pakistan. Finally, consideration was given as to how to bring the for-profit creative industries into the mix and how to leverage their assets to meet needs in Pakistan and Afghanistan while still respecting their integrity as private entities.