Advani-mania in Pakistani media

IN Media Practice | 06/06/2005
The News, which normally reflects the Pakistani establishment`s line, was more fulsome in its coverage of the Advani visit.

Indo-Asian News Service

Islamabad, June 5 (IANS) Visiting Bharatiya Janata Party president L.K. Advani continues to make headlines in Pakistan but the English media Sunday chose to focus on the down-memory-lane aspect of his Karachi visit than his tributes to the country`s founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

The glowing tributes that Advani penned in the visitors` book after going to Jinnah`s mausoleum Saturday were reproduced in full but more as the sub-text to the news reports. To the extent that even Dawn, the newspaper Jinnah founded, devoted only the last five paragraphs of a 17-paragraph story to the mausoleum visit, the focus of which was on the BJP leader`s visit to his alma mater and the India-Pakistan peace process.

Dawn also carried a separate story on Advani`s meeting with Sindh Governor Ishratul Ibad, during which he spoke about the peace process. This was headlined "L.K. Advani wants peace process to be irreversible".

The News, which normally reflects the Pakistani establishment`s line, was more fulsome in its coverage of the Advani visit. "The young man born in Karachi who became an RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) organiser here in 1947, only to leave with hatred in his heart after Partition, has returned to his hometown for a brief visit," it said in an editorial titled "Welcome home, Mr Advani".

"It`s a personal trip down nostalgia lane to the city he refers to as `mine`: he lived twenty years in Karachi before migrating. Known as an anti-Pakistan hardliner, the BJP approaching 80, is talking peace. He is reminding everyone that it was (the BJP) that actually started the dialogue process -- not just with Pakistan, but also with the Kashmiri Hurriyat Conference leaders who are coincidentally visiting Pakistan," the editorial noted.

Pakistan, the editorial pointed out, "is not pressing forward with the FIR lodged at Karachi`s Jamshed Quarters police station, on September 10, 1947
, against Advani and 17 accomplices for allegedly conspiring to kill Jinnah and other leaders.

"News of the FIR was leaked to the media when Advani in 2002 presented Musharraf with
India`s most-wanted list of criminals that Pakistan was harbouring according to New Delhi
. The government now says it is unaware of any criminal case against Advani," the editorial said.

The News also ran a long front-page story on Advani`s activities in
Karachi. "The Indian leader was given full protocol in the provincial metropolis and the authorities took strict security measures for the BJP chief and his family," it said in a story headlined "Advani says he is happy to have come to Karachi

The Nation carried, without comment, an 820-world article on Advani`s activities in
, devoting just 110 words in a single paragraph to the visit to Jinnah`s tomb. In a commentative piece on Advani`s visit to the Katasraj temple near Lahore, The Nation said: "Advani would do well to initiate the rebuilding of (the) Babri Masjid and invite (ruling Pakistan Muslim League chief Chaudhry) Shujaat Hussain to lay the foundation stone. That would be history."

During the Thursday visit to the temple, considered the second holiest Hindu shrine of undivided
, Hussain had asked Advani to inaugurate the rebuilding of the complex and to help restore other ancient temples, some of which were three to four thousand years old.

"This is the story of two places of worship, a mosque and a mandir," Humayun Gauhar wrote in the article titled "From Katas to
Kashmir". "This is also the story of two men, L.K. Advani of secular India and Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain of non-secular Pakistan
. The mosque is the Babri Masjid, built by the first Mughal Emperor Babar. The mandir is a series of Hindu temples from antiquity," he noted.

Gauhar went on to condemn what he termed the affront to Hurriyat leaders, who, according to him were unnecessarily kept waiting on the Indian side of the Line of Control before being permitted to cross over to Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

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