2012 Pakistan-India Social Media Mela
Friday, July 13, 2012
Consul General William Martin's Remarks
One year ago, I had the pleasure to open Pakistan's first ever international social media summit. It was a tremendous success, as top bloggers, Twitter users, and other social media mavens flocked to it from all over Pakistan to share their energy and creativity. They were joined by their counterparts from across the globe, including Egypt, Malaysia, Indonesia, and America. The 2011 event was so successful that everyone agreed it should happen every year.
In 2012, we wanted to capture the same energy and inspiration that came out of last year's conference. At the same time, we envisioned an event that would focus on the most dynamic social and political activists on the entire subcontinent: Bloggers from India and Pakistan.
In many ways, it was only natural that this year's event would be focused on India and Pakistan. I have been heartened to see a strengthening of ties between the two great countries, between business people and ordinary people. As the exchange of physical goods through trade has steadily increased, a corresponding in digital and virtual exchange is also happening.
When I think about social media and blogging in India and Pakistan, I am struck by how many common opportunities and challenges both countries share. Internet penetration rates are roughly equal in both countries; most internet users tend to be young and urban, with tremendous room for growth rural areas. There are countless common interests that support social media bridges.
So, why is the United States supporting an event that is for Pakistanis and Indians? Stronger ties -- people-to-people ties, commercial ties, political ties, blogger ties -- are absolutely essential for the long-term peace and prosperity of not just India and Pakistan, but the entire region. The world needs an economically thriving, stable Pakistan just as much as an economically thriving, stable India. We see an event like this Mela as a cornerstone of what we call citizen diplomacy.
I'd like to thank our participants for travelling from India to share their expertise and perspective. I'd like to thank all the Pakistani participants for their ideas and knowledge. And, I'd like to thank our friends at PeaceNiche for all the work they have put into making this event a historic success.