India’s Policy of Pakistan-bashing
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.