FSO Shayna Cram is doing something not usually seen in public diplomacy outreach. She is a public diplomacy officer reportedly assigned to the US Consulate General in Peshawar, Pakistan (though listed in key officers list as CON). Peshawar is the gateway to AQ and Taliban strongholds in the tribal belt of the country and has long been considered one, if not the most, dangerous assignments in the Foreign Service.
The Pashto song “Jenaiy”, which means “girl”, was written reportedly as a tribute to Malala Yousufzai, the young girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban. The video features Cram on guitar and vocals with Pakistani musician, Sarmad Ghafoor, on the rabab. A rabab, also known as rebeb or al-rababah is a traditional stringed instrument dating back to the 18th century. If you are in Turkey, check out the collection at the Mevlâna mausoleum in Konya, after you’ve seen the Whirling Dervishes, of course.
The Tribune.com article includes a photo and some quotes from Ms. Cram:
Reaching out across the airwaves is a cheap and easy way to get around the frustrations of restrictions to make contact with people, Cram says.
“How can you do that for example in Peshawar when you can’t leave the (consulate) gates? How do I reach someone’s heart and let them know who I am and what I’m about as an American when I can’t physically go out?” she said.
“One of the most effective ways I think is through music, because it’s something people can connect to and understand in a simple way.”
Remains to be seen if the tune will catch on. Some commenters online were not happy with her Pashto because it reportedly has an Afghani accent. That’s like my Turkish decorated with bang-bang accent. So, she gets points for being out there. You go, girl!
Okay, so don’t look now but the song has also kinda overshadowed the Pakistani visit of David Pearce, who is rumored to be the next Special Rep for Af/Pak.
As of this writing, the US Embassy in Islamabad has yet to take advantage of Ms. Cram’s side project, and the video is nowhere to be found in the embassy’s YouTube page despite local and some US press coverage.
Correction: Corrected the name in press reports from Shayla Cram to Shayna Cram as listed in the key officers list.
- U.S. diplomat hopes song can win over Pakistan (rawstory.com)
- Pakistani Taliban recruiting via Facebook (dawn.com)
- Taliban commander arrested in Peshawar (nation.com.pk)
- Arrests in Shooting of Pakistani Girl (abcnews.go.com)
- Bomb kills 2 police officers in northwest Pakistan (cnsnews.com)