Jagran and Nawai-e-Waqt stoke paranoia

BY subarno c| IN Media Monitoring | 08/03/2006
The Jagran analysis reiterated an old idea that India is a soft state that panders to its minority community. Indo-Pak monitoring--Part I

This fresh round of Indo-Pak monitoring on the Hoot looks at how regional newspapers in India and Pakistan cover each other¿s countries. A Panos-funded project on the Hoot.

Subarno Chattarji

Overview: 

A survey of four newspapers - Dainik Jagran, Amar Ujala, Daily Ibrat, Nawai-e-Waqt - reveals common attitudes and some divergences in the coverage of Kashmir and terrorism. The period of survey is from January 15 to February 15, 2006. While the first two are Hindi language papers, Ibrat is a Sindhi daily and Nawai an Urdu one. Language does imply different constituencies and sometimes differing political attitudes toward the same event. Analysis of  a few articles in Dainik Bhaskar and Punjab Kesari have also been included. 

Cross-border terrorism: 

An editorial in Dainik Jagran, ¿Half-hearted initiative against terror¿, dismissed the forthcoming foreign secretary level talks. ¿Is it possible that in the name of friendship, the issue of cross border terrorism is not being firmly put forward before Pakistan?¿ (January 1) The editorial associated this lack of firmness with domestic political compulsions: ¿It is unfortunate that the Indian government appears to be attaching more importance to vote bank politics when it comes to dealing with the issue of Pakistan sponsored terrorism. [...] It seems that the greed for the vote bank has made the government forget that terrorists are only enemies of peace and cannot be grouped into religion, creed or class.¿ 

The Jagran analysis reiterated an old idea that India is a soft state that panders to its minority community. It also identifies terrorism with Pakistan and Islam despite the final claim that terror knows no religion or class. 

In another editorial, ¿New initiative in peace talks¿ (January 16), Jagran exhorted the Indian government to talk to Kashmiri Pandits in addition to separatist leaders in the valley. It then returned to the old theme of Pakistan-sponsored terror: ¿This cry of independence is engineered by Pakistan. [...] The solution to the problem of Jammu and Kashmir is inherent in the end of activities of terrorist organizations and lessening of Pakistan¿s influence. In reality, terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir has taken the form of a business.¿ While there is some truth in the assertion that terrorism in Kashmir is no longer an indigenous movement, to place the entire blame on Pakistan is to absolve India of all responsibility. Such historical amnesia obliterates events such as the rigged elections of 1986 or subsequent depredations by the Indian armed forces. 

Pakistani perspectives: 

Nawai-e-Waqt carried 71 articles and/or edits on Kashmir. A front page headline ¿Five Kashmiris martyred due to Indian brutalities¿ (January 17) and the article indicate a change in language registers with frequent use of words such as ¿martyr,¿ ¿mujahideen,¿ ¿brutalities,¿ ¿jehad.¿ ¿Indian forces following on their tradition of committing brutalities have killed five more Kashmiris including two Mujahideen.¿ Details of Indian army atrocities co-existed on the same page with a fairly balanced piece on Pakistan Foreign Secretary Riaz Khan¿s visit to New Delhi to pursue Confidence Building Measures (CBM). Thus while Nawai included articles on the composite dialogue between the two countries, it was much more forthright about Kashmir. 

An editorial, ¿India-Pakistan talks - where is the Kashmir issue?¿ (January 20) was followed by an article, ¿Kashmir can only be liberated through jehad¿ (January 24). Nawai mirrored Jagran¿s terminology of soft states in its headlines: ¿Pakistan¿s soft approach has increased India¿s violence against Kashmiris. India considers discussions with the Hurriyat as an internal matter. Kashmiris do not consider anybody other than [Syed] Ali Gilani as their leader.¿ It also cited Saleem Hashmi, Hizbul Mujahideen spokesman: ¿"We are only waging a jehad to liberate Kashmir from India and make it a part of Pakistan."¿ 

Coverage of Kashmir often verged on paranoia as in a front page piece, ¿Kashmiris to observe the Indian Republic Day as Black Day¿ (January 26): ¿According to various intelligence reports they have received information that India might try to stage terrorist activities during the January 26 celebrations in which the Saudi King is also a guest of honour and will implicate Pakistan in it. [...] The report also suggests that during President Bush¿s expected visit in March there is a possibility of creating such a situation.¿ 

An article the following day, ¿India and Saudi Arab friendship is unnatural: Sahibzada Fazal Karim, head of the Jamiatul Ulema Islam¿ was in keeping with the general anti-India bias of Nawai-e-Waqt. The article implied that foreign policy is predicated on ¿natural allies¿ determined purely on the basis of religious affinity. It also expressed anxiety at the bonhomie between India and Saudi Arabia and was unconsciously indicative of India¿s strength as a pluralist polity. 

Nawai editorialized on Kashmir on January 29, ¿Nine Kashmiris martyred¿: ¿On the one hand India is extending the hand of friendship towards Pakistan and on the other hand is killing the innocent people in Kashmir. [...] The [Pakistan] government should look at resolving the Kashmir issue; starting of the Amritsar bus service or the Munabao-Khokrapar train service are not the solutions to the real problem!¿ Quite clearly CBMs are not enough for Nawai; in fact it perceives a contradiction between the CBMs and Kashmir. 

Nawai-e-Waqt¿s obsessive concern with Kashmir was reflected in an editorial, ¿Kashmir Solidarity Day¿, on February 5: ¿In occupied Kashmir, Azad Kashmir, Pakistan, India and any where else in the world, the Kashmiris are observing February 5, today as the Kashmir Solidarity Day. The brave people of the valley since the past 58 years have been fighting a war for their independence. Thousand have lost their lives fighting against the Indian hegemony in the region. Indian forces, police and the Hindu goondas have burned several houses; destroyed thousands of homes and this valley of peace and love have been turned into a graveyard.¿ The intemperate language and exaggeration give the lie to any notion of editorial balance. 

The edit concludes with a statement of Pakistani solidarity for Kashmiris: ¿On February 5, the whole world has united behind the Kashmiris and has assured them that they will get their civil and democratic rights and nobody can stop them. India can delay in granting them this right but it cannot stop the freedom movement. Pakistani government and its people have always supported our Kashmiri brothers because Kashmir is Pakistan¿s main artery. Pakistan will be complete only with the freedom of Kashmir and that time is near.¿ The rhetoric of historical inevitability and completion of unfinished agendas relates to Pakistan¿s conception of itself as well as the memory of the dismemberment of its eastern flank, ably aided by Indian forces. Kashmiri freedom becomes in this context a mode of retrospective vengeance. Ironically the language of completing the unfinished business of history finds an echo in the Indian notion of ¿Akhand Bharat¿ with which the Pakistan media is acutely uncomfortable. 

On February 6, the same theme of solidarity and imminent unity was repeated in a report on a speech by the Pakistani Prime Minister: ¿PM Shaukat Aziz has said that Kashmiris will soon reach their destination and Kashmir and Pakistan will become one. Adding that Pakistani people will not sit in peace until the Kashmir issue is resolved according to the wishes of the Kashmir people. There is no other "short cut" to permanent peace in South Asia.¿ 

A lead editorial, ¿Kashmir Issue - Don¿t Expect Too Much¿ (February 13), perceived the peace talks between the two nations as foisted on Pakistan and a futile exercise: ¿The CBMs and the process of dialogue between India and Pakistan started under pressure from America and Europe after 9/11 has so far resulted only in exchange of trade and cultural delegations, start of train and bus service and trade of useless things from India.  India on the other hand, is making use of the peaceful situation with Pakistan and has increased state terrorism in the region, killing almost a dozen people on a daily basis.¿ 

It went onto outline India¿s interest in occupying Kashmir: ¿By keeping Kashmir with itself, India not only wants to take control of all the rivers of Pakistan so that it makes Pakistan barren. It also wants to create disturbance in the entire region so that Pakistan will be forced to spend its resources on increasing the war budget instead of spending on overcoming illiteracy, reducing poverty and on developing infrastructure in the country.¿ While admitting that Pakistan spends an inordinate amount of its national capital on the military and that this results in illiteracy and poverty, the edit places the blame on India, as if no internal factors were responsible for the lack of development within Pakistan. 

The edit ends with an attack on the west and the need for Pakistan to focus on the Kashmir agenda: ¿Expecting any support from America and Europe is useless as we have seen their attitude during the blasphemy incident and they will never put pressure on their anti-Islam friend India on this issue.¿ India is clubbed along with the anti-Islamic west and the only hope of the Kashmiri people lies in Pakistan. 

In contrast to Nawai-e-Waqt, Ibrat was more hopeful and temperate in its responses to Kashmir. Imdad Soomro in ¿Hyderabad Letter¿ (a weekly column) wrote: ¿Now enough is enough. For the last half century all our resources have been utilized for the Kashmir issue. […] Now there is a need for a big interval and during this period a permanent solution of Kashmir problem should be found¿ (¿When will snow melt on both sides of the border?¿ January 16). The mode of achieving this ¿permanent solution¿ was left unclear but Soomro did not see Kashmir as the unfinished business of partition. 

An editorial on Kashmir, ¿The announcement to withdraw 15 thousand Indian army soldiers - "Much needed for permanent peace"¿, began by highlighting the disjunction between peace talks and killings: ¿Is it not a joke with peace talks that on one hand dialogue for security in the region is in process and on the other hand Indian Army is harvesting the crops of human lives in Kashmir? […] It is a sad situation that the country, which claims to be one of the largest democracies in the world, has crossed all the imperialistic limits for suppressing the Kashmiris¿ historic right of self determination. But the outcome of this has proved that despite using every type of force, India has failed to suppress the voice of Kashmiris and now the only way out left for it is to find a peaceful solution of this problem.¿ (February 8). 

Nevertheless Ibrat perceived the withdrawal as a symbol of hope and future intent of peace: ¿Anyway, it is better that India has at least initiated the process; even it is small and limited. It has taken the first step in the right direction, so we welcome this announcement. […] The sooner India takes a step towards withdrawal of its army, the earlier the dream of peace in the region would be realized.¿ This conciliatory tone is in contrast to that of Nawai which saw Kashmir from the point of view of jehad rather than a space for future reconciliation. 

Terrorism in the rest of India: 

In the period under survey articles on Jammu and Kashmir were interspersed with pieces on terror attacks elsewhere in India, particularly the Indian Institute of Science shootout. Dainik Bhaskar declared that ¿Pakistan has formulated a new strategy to continue the terrorist activities against India. It trained a number of South Indian youth in Baluchistan. It is being said that the attack on the prestigious Indian Institute of Science was accomplished by one of these terrorists¿ (¿IIS Bangalore Attacker Trained in Pakistan?¿ January 1). 

An article in Punjab Kesari, ¿South India too in the web of Pakistani Terrorists,¿ was a more detailed exegesis of why Pakistan targeted Bangalore. ¿Pakistan aims at targeting these [defence related institutes] in order to cripple India from the military point of view. [...] It also wants to prove to the world that now it is in a position to target any Indian city it chooses.¿ It then speculated on how the attack had been planned: ¿It is to be noted that a group of Pakistan industrialists had toured the two cities [Bangalore and Hyderabad]. It seems that there had been a spy amongst them who must have inspected the place.¿ This speculation is reflective of a paranoia that thrives on and feeds off anti-Pakistan sentiments, whereby all Pakistanis and their co-religionists in India are terrorists. 

The article then went on to provide a historical perspective on the growth of Muslim fundamentalism in south India. ¿Due to Nehru¿s appeasement of Muslims, Kerala saw the birth of a new large district, Malapuram. A candidate of Muslim League has been winning from the region. [...] In Kerala these days a pro-Pakistani extremist group, "Al Umma", is quite active.¿ The enemy within has been nurtured by the pseudo-secularists and the article implies that the chickens are coming home to roost. 

The analyst deals next with Hyderabad ¿once the capital of Nizam¿s kingdom¿ and reminds the reader that the ¿Nizam had declared the merger of his kingdom with Pakistan¿. Finally, Bangladesh is pilloried because it ¿happens to be the most prominent centre of anti-India activities.¿ The article is a classic example of the manner in which Muslim aspects of India and its Muslim neighbours are treated as treasonous. In referring to the Nizam¿s desire to accede to Pakistan, historical memory is dredged to prove the proverbial disloyalty of Indian Muslims. India is projected as a state under siege beset by enemies within and without. 

The paranoiac strain in Hindi papers was reiterated in Amar Ujala, which declared ¿2500 Pakistanis hide in India¿ (January 20). It cited the Union Home Ministry which ¿admits that 7216 Pakistanis live in India illegally¿ and concluded ¿There will always be a possibility of danger to the internal security of the country.¿ The latter follows from the assumption that all Pakistani nationals within our borders are suspected terrorists. 

Significantly Amar Ujala and Dainik Jagran ran 46 stories and/or edits in the one month under survey related to the presence, threat, and arrest of Lashkar-e-Taiba or other terror groups or persons related to terror attacks. This number does not include articles related specifically to Kashmir and cross border terrorism. The density is indicative of the obsessive focus on Islamic terror. Across the border, Nawai-e-Waqt had 71 stories related to Jammu and Kashmir, mirroring a similar obsession with the ¿other¿ as the fountainhead of all violence and brutality. Daily Ibrat was less obsessed with Kashmir and more concerned about the Munabao-Khokrapar rail link, indicating a regional Sindhi bias towards more local affairs. The contrast between the two Pakistani dailies will be looked at in a later piece.

 

Contact: chattarji_s@yahoo.com

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