Posts Tagged ‘Indo-Pak relations’

Propaganda: the (blatant) Indian way

February 26, 2013

ZoneAsia-Pk

Indian media can be called many things – free, vibrant, opinionated – but if there is one thing it cannot be called is subtle. The Indian media has had a long history of bias, Pakistan-bashing and a general lack of uniformity on national issues.

When the gang rape story broke in December, there was an intense media debate in India about the consequences of the tragedy on the country. The Indian Express advocated reform and called for a safe environment in the country on its Op-Ed pages. The Hindu, on the other hand, took off on a different tangent and discussed the need for death penalty and castration for rapists. The Times of India chose to remain on the fences, calling for “long term solutions.” The Asian Age focused on the political fall-out of the gang rape. Navbharat Times, on the other hand, filled its Op-Ed pages with a debate on the oppressed classes of the Indian society and raised an entirely existential question. Nai Dunya, went off in a completely different direction, and called for an end to protests since laws could not be “made over night.”

However, this is tame compared to some of the attacks the Indian media has made on its national athletes. And that onslaught is nothing compared to the continuous Pakistan-bashing that occurs every time wind blows from the west. Over the years, the Pakistani establishment has consistently demanded that the Indian media tone down its anti-Pakistan stance for better Indo-Pak relations. Several times over the years, former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf has blasted the Indian media for fabricating stories about Pakistan’s military. Furthermore, Pakistan High Commissioner to India Salman Bashir said in an interview, “Pakistan-bashing has become fashionable in India whenever there is an issue.” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar also said several times that she was saddened by the constant barrage of negative comments emanating from the other side of the border.

“Pakistan and India are both important countries of South Asia. It is imperative that they demonstrate requisite responsibility for ensuring peace by addressing all concerns through dialogue. Rhetoric and ratcheting up of tensions is certainly counterproductive. We are saddened and disappointed at the continued negative statements emanating from India both from the media as well as certain Indian leaders. For its part, Pakistan has observed a measured and deliberate self-restraint in our public statements on India. This has been done keeping in view the interest of peace in the region,” said Khar.

The LoC, Pakistan-India cricketing rivalries, political and security debates aside, the latest stunt pulled by the Indian media was worthy of a good laugh.

In the wake of the Hyderabad blasts in India that left 16 dead and 117 injured, the Indian security forces issued a statement that slain Pakistani MQM leader Manzar Imam was the mastermind behind the attack. Within a few hours of this statement, the Indian media men dug out a photograph of Manzar Imam and declared him the chief terrorist behind the incident. Except the fact that Imam had been killed in a targeted attack a few weeks ago. It took them another few hours to realize their mistake and retract their statements.

This incident, again, just goes to prove how the Indian media looks for any outside sources to blame without looking inwards for their own security woes.

The Indian Home Minister Shinde announced in a statement that they had been expecting some form of retaliation after two high-profile hangings – Afzal Guru and Ajmal Kasab. If it was expected, perhaps the Indian journalists should focus their energies at investigating how there was such a massive security failure in one of their busiest, most populous cities instead of pointing fingers on dead men across the border.

In every journalism course there is a section on media ethics and responsibility. It seems that either the Indian journalists missed those important classes or need to revisit them once more.

KASHMIR: TIME TO MOVE FORWARD

December 10, 2012

By Air Commodore (R) Khalid Iqbal
Spearhead Research

Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid’s recent wish that: ‘it is high time India and Pakistan move forward together hand-in-hand’, is rather captivating. Recent overtures from both sides clearly indicate that two neighbouring countries want prosperity in the region and for that they agree that resolution of all disputes, including Kashmir, is a priority.

Pakistan has all along been pursuing this objective. It is unfortunate that some of very meaningful peace processes between the two countries went astray on one reason or the other. As Pakistan is likely to be a beneficiary in case of equitable resolution of most of territory related disputes, Pakistan is always keen to see the conclusive phase of the efforts aimed at resolving these issues. Unfortunately, the two countries have not been able to achieve anything worthwhile in territory related disputes.

Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has recently said that India wants to resolve all issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, with Pakistan through dialogue. Indian Independence Act had laid down clear terms of reference for the rulers of princely states. They were given the choice to freely accede to either India or Pakistan, or to remain independent, while doing so they were to take into account the aspirations of their people. Ruler of Kashmir failed to do so, and while under duress, he invited the Indian armed forces to invade his own state.

Kashmir is certainly at the pinnacle of India-Pakistan disputes – an issue recognized by the UN, and on which settlement framework has also been specified in the relevant UN resolutions. To remind the world about the continuation of the conflict, UN Observers mission continues to be stationed in the region. The first group of United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) arrived in Jammu and Kashmir on 24 January of 1949 to supervise the ceasefire between India and Pakistan. The UNSC resolutions remain arguably the best and judicious way out for settling this dispute. While addressing the 67 thsession of the General Assembly, President Zardari had rightly attributed the non-resolution of Kashmir dispute to the failure of the UN system.

Therefore, to succeed, any durable peace initiative between Pakistan and India must cater to break the stalemate on this important issue. It would have been in the fitness of thing had the Indian foreign minister put forward any fresh proposals on the Kashmir issue as well. Without demonstration of political will to tackle the Kashmir depute, even fairy tale wishes remain, at best, just noble desires; devoid of implementation tools.

Spells of Kashmir intifada, in their scope and scale, visibly get out of India’s control despite Indian army’s heavy presence. There is now considerable resistance from the Indian mainland as well, where conscientious members of the civil society have started to censure the central government for continued occupation of Kashmir. World watches with dismay that even by stationing of around 600,000 combatants for over a decade, India has not been able to subdue the spirit of Kashmir’s of the IHK.

IHK has the unenviable distinction of being the most militarised zone in the world. The hardest hit victim of the conflict has been the socio-economic fabric of the Kashmir. Agriculture which forms about 48 percent of the state domestic product is witnessing a negative growth. Tourism involving the livelihood of thousands of people has also been badly hit by the conflict. During October 2012, two reports were released pertaining human rights situation in the IHK. Reports by Amnesty International (AI) and Citizen’s Council for Justice (CCJ) were released in a quick succession. Both dossiers have adequately exposed the deplorable Human Rights (HR) conditions in IHK.

To make the people of Kashmir feel secure, it is necessary to scrap all the draconian laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Public Safety Act, Disturbed Areas Act, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act etc. Moreover, as confidence building measure, it is essential to retrieve the armed forces to their barracks and let the police take care of the law and order. IHK government should also release all prisoners of conscience.

Pakistan has consistently maintained its stance on Kashmir. It wants the resolution of Kashmir issue in line with the wishes of Kashmiri people, as ordained by a number of UN resolutions and as envisaged by universally accepted democratic principles of the right of self determination. Pakistan will continue diplomatic and political support of Kashmiri people in their struggle to achieve their right to decide their future.

In this backdrop, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister has extended an invitation to 8 members of the executive council of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), to visit Pakistan from 15 to 22 December 2012. The initiative has been taken to begin a consultative process between the political leadership of Pakistan, AJK and pro-movement leaders of IHK. This initiative is expected to jump-start the process for peaceful resolution of Kashmir issue. Kashmir experts believe that such visits by the Hurriyat leadership suit both sides. Pakistan envisages that APHC could act as a catalyst in bridging the gap between the respective government’s standpoint and public aspirations of the people of Kashmir.

From Kashmiri perspective, leaders of both side of Kashmir should be facilitated to meet each other frequently to narrow down their perceptional gaps. And at the same time, India and Pakistan should continue with their good-will initiatives kick-started during President of Pakistan’s non-state visit to India, because this could enable both the countries to discover common grounds for conflict resolution. Pakistan feels that the Kashmiris of both sides should take advantage of the current improvement of relations between India and Pakistan, and it is in this context that APHC leadership has been invited.

Rumours have it that under pressure from India’s hawkish politicians and media elements, hurdles could be created to disrupt the process. Some elements of Indian media have started a negative campaign against the visit of APHC leaders branding them as ‘Separatists’. Understandably, some elements from India are not sincere towards resolution of Kashmir issue through consultative process. They do not want Kashmiri leadership to visit Pakistan and interact with Pakistani and Kashmiri political leadership. Their motive is to jeopardize the consultative process initiated by Pakistan. These disruptive elements are focusing at creating divide within the pro-movement camp by allowing only a few leaders to visit Pakistan. It would be unfortunate if India lets this opportunity slip by through administrative manipulation to deny right of travel to all the invitees. This will indeed be the first test of the new foreign minister of India.