LAHORE (Staff Report) – SAARC Council of Ministers has extended South Asian Free Media Association’s (SAFMA) certification as SAARC’s Recognized Body for three more years-till March 2019.

SAFMA, formed in July 2000 in Islamabad, was recognized by SAARC as its mainstream media body in all member countries in 2004. With its central secretariat located in Lahore, Pakistan, SAFMA has wider membership of media persons in all countries of SAARC with eight national chapters.

In its existence for the last 16 years, SAFMA has been a great promoter of regional cooperation and peace. Its think tank, South Asian Policy Analysis (SAPNA) network, produced best of the research work on major issues faced by the countries of the region and South Asian Journal was rated as one of the best research-based quarterly journal.

Besides its regional activities, it helped build confidence and understanding between Pakistan, India and Afghanistan by actively engaging parliamentarians from all the parties, experts and officials of the region. The recommendations of SAARC Information Ministers’ conference were implemented by SAFMA. It came under attack for defending press freedom in Nepal and other parts of the region. Annually SAFMA helped produce South Asia Media Monitor by South Asia Media Commission consisting of leading editors of the region.

Actively engaging women journalists, SAFMA supported creation of South Asian Women in Media (SAWM). It has been running South Asian Media School which provided training to young journalists from the region.

SAFMA plans to hold its 6th SAARC Journalists’ Summit in Islamabad before the next SAARC Summit in Islamabad in November this year. Various media organizations and SAARC regional bodies have felicitated SAFMA in recognition of its services for an economically integrated South Asian region without conflicts. SAFMA Secretary General Imtiaz Alam and President Vinod Sharma thanked media fraternity for its support to its cause of peace and cooperation.