In­dia’s Pol­icy of Pak­istan-bash­ing

Southasia - - The Last Stop - By Anees Jil­lani

Iam some­times in­vited by an In­dian news chan­nel go­ing by the name of `Times Now.’ Arund­hati Roy calls it the Fox News of In­dia. The chan­nel ap­pears to be on a con­stant spree of Pak­istan bash­ing. Arnab Goswami in his pro­gram `Newshour’ rou­tinely in­vites a Pak­istani and a cou­ple of hawk­ish In­di­ans con­stantly crit­i­ciz­ing Pak­istan’s pol­icy of spon­sor­ing terrorism in In­dia and what a fail­ure the coun­try is. The whole ex­er­cise puts the Pak­istani in a tight spot: most of us in Pak­istan do not ap­prove of ISI’s poli­cies and things that our gov­ern­ment does but is the Pak­istani ex­pected to whole-heart­edly agree with what the In­dian hawks are say­ing on the other side or be­come a spokesper­son of ISI. I have learnt over a pe­riod of time that the best course is sim­ply not to go.

But one thing I have no­ticed about the In­dian me­dia is that it loves Pak­istan bash­ing. The me­dia is def­i­nitely free to say what­ever it likes when it comes to its own gov­ern­ment but it ap­pears to be an ex­ten­sion of the MEA (Min­istry of Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs) when it comes to Indo-Pak re­la­tions. There is no doubt that the MEA never of­fi­cially di­rects the me­dia to fol­low the of­fi­cial line. It is ac­tu­ally the pub­lic pres­sure; the In­dian nation de­spite its mind-bog­gling di­ver­sity is con­form­ist when it comes to cer­tain mat­ters. Take cricket for in­stance. Ev­ery In­dian is ex­pected to ex­press eu­pho­ria over its world cup vic­tory and praise Dhoni and Ten­dulkar even if you give two hoots about the sports. You can­not sup­port the In­dian Kash­miris de­spite their legally ten­able case; if you do like Arund­hati Roy then trea­son cases are clamped down on you. Sim­i­larly, you can­not even think of sup­port­ing Pak­istan on any is­sue.

This is so un­like Pak­istan where the whole me­dia ap­pears to be on a cru­sade to cru­cify its own coun­try, in­clud­ing the mil­i­tary and the ISI. This is de­spite the fact that some like Umar Cheema and Syed Saleem Shahzad face the con­se­quences, in­clud­ing death, and many jour­nal­ists re­main on the pay-roll of the in­tel­li­gence agen­cies.

It is now nor­mal for the me­dia to crit­i­cize ISI’s pol­icy in Afghanistan and Kashmir. In In­dia, as op­posed to this, one can find few ar­ti­cles crit­i­ciz­ing the In­dian pol­icy in Kashmir and would be lucky to come across a TV pro­gram do­ing the same. The unan­i­mous view in In­dia is that Pak­istan is the vil­lain and In­dia is the hero, like in a typ­i­cal Hindi movie; there are no grey ar­eas. You op­pose it and you be­come Arund­hati Roy. You stick to it and you be­come In­dia’s Sal­man Rushdie and can even go higher if you are a Pak­istani; let the lat­ter slightly twitch and he would be dropped like a hot potato.

In­dia is im­pa­tient with the pace of the trial of mil­i­tants ac­cused of in­volve­ment in the Mum­bai at­tacks. It, how­ever, has noth­ing to say about the courts there tak­ing 18 long years to de­cide a sim­ple Babri mosque case and the trial of the ac­cused in the Gu­jarat ri­ots lin­ger­ing for the past decade. There is hardly a case of any­one ever con­victed for com­mit­ting a hu­man rights abuse in Kashmir.

Pak­istan no doubt is in bad shape and one be­ing a cit­i­zen of this coun­try only wishes that it rec­ti­fies its mis­takes and pro­ceeds in the right direc­tion. The mass hys­te­ria of `Pak­istan bash­ing’ in In­dia, how­ever, is also off-track, and lead­ing to the wrong sta­tion which def­i­nitely is not `peace.’ The writer is an ad­vo­cate of the Supreme Court and a mem­ber of the Wash­ing­ton, DC Bar. He has been writ­ing for var­i­ous pub­li­ca­tions for more than 20 years and has authored sev­eral books.

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