Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR) is a media wing of the armed forces of Pakistan. ISPR broadcast military-related news and coordinate information to the civilian media and the civic society. ISPR as a voice of the Pakistani military and serves to strengthen public relations of the armed forces by interacting with the general print and electronic media and the masses.
It was through my friend and classmate Moiz Khan that I heard about the Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR) Internship program. The internship program provides a chance to the Pakistani youth, especially currently enrolled or recently graduated journalism or Mass Communication students to interact with the armed forces of Pakistan and acquire first-hand experience regarding the institution. It was an interesting opportunity that was knocking on my door, thus, without giving a second thought, I decided to apply. I called the ISPR internship coordinator directly on the phone in hopes to acquire information on how to officially apply for the program. She was nice and asked me to send my documents to the ISPR directorate by post directly. Besides that, I had also got a recommendation from one of my professors, Colonel (retd) Ashfaq Hussain, where he himself served at ISPR for a number of years.
It was July 1, 2018, when I got a sweet phone call from the ISPR directorate which apprised me that I got acceptance into their internship program. Let me tell you one thing, before the acceptance call, they do a lot of background checks on applicants which they should for security reasons. So, don’t get stressed if an officer visits your house or you get a phone call from a police station. It’s just a normal verification routine for security reasons. So, the first day was tiring and we had spent a big chunk of our day over instructions and introductions. Though the internship is not paid however they do provide free lunches and transportation for tours during the program. The officers in charge of the internship program were extremely friendly, nice and cooperative. If you are the lucky one that got accepted to the program, prepare to attend a lot of lectures however these lectures are extremely informative and thought-provoking. Once you successfully complete the internship program with ISPR, I guarantee you that you will get the consummate knowhow of the armed forces and their way of working.
The general media have spread a lot of misinformation about the role of the armed forces which is creating a kind of negative image of the institution. However, the majority of Pakistani people loves the armed forces and deems them as saviors of the country. So, to be honest, personally the ISPR internship program eradicated myriad of misconceptions and misinformation from my conscience about the army that I had contracted from different sources throughout my life.
With regards to the inception of the program. To the best of my knowledge, the ISPR internship program was the initiative of the then Director-General of ISPR, Major General Asif Ghafoor. Furthermore, throughout our internship journey, we got numerous chances to interact with him. He was very eloquent and open in his interactions with the internees. He never shied away from our spicy questions and always answered it with reason, logic and a big smile on his face.
In addition, the Internship was full of activities and hands-on experience. Topnotch journalists and TV anchors of the country were invited to the ISPR directorate for us to interact with them and learn from their experiences. They organized a plethora of field tours for the internees. Visits to the SSG commandos base and the Qasim Aviation Airbase were the two best tours of the Internship program.
Towards the very end of our internship, we had a meeting with the incumbent Chief of army staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa. We had discussed almost all the pressing issues pertaining to Pakistan with him. He was very straightforward, open and honest in his discourse and while answering our questions. The internship concluded with a certificate ceremony where we had received certificates from then DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor for successfully completing the internship program. We are grateful for the opportunity ISPR provided us.