Indo-Pak news monitoring, Part III

IN Media Monitoring | 12/09/2004
Analysts in the Dainik Jagran and Dainik Bhaskar debate implications of Indo-Pak détente.

Columnist Rajiv Shukla wrote in Dainik Jagran of the friendly atmosphere towards India in Karachi. Five years ago, when he was in Pakistan, the response was cold, he recalled. Now it felt like being in one`s own country, among one`s own people. The new generation was mesmerised by India and the Indian TV Channels aroused their curiosity about India, Shukla said.

While the two newspapers rely on newsagencies for their news from Pakistan, they have regular columnists like Kuldeep Nayar, JN Dixit and Rakshat Puri and Khushwant Singh writing for them. During this period, the commentary focused on the implications of the United States declaring Pakistan as a major non-Nato ally, the Pakistani army action in the tribal areas to flush out al Qaida leaders and Pakistan`s President, Gen Pervez Musharraf setting a timeframe for progress in the talks. Columnist C Rajamohan wrote in the Dainik Jagran that President Musharraf had forgotten the lessons of history. The powerful British empire could not gain control of the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan and after independence the Pakistani government also choose to allow the tribal areas to continue in the same way. But President Musharraf had now sent in the Pakistani army into the tribal areas. Rajamohan wrote that India had no reason to object to the major non-Nato ally status given to Pakistan.

On the same day, March 28, Sanjay Gupta expressed another point of view in the same newspaper. He said that while India was celebrating its victory over Pakistan, America had diminished the happiness by giving Pakistan a special ally status. The US was giving sophisticated weapons to Pakistan to fight the al Qaida. President Musharraf`s timeframe meant that the Pakistani army could start infiltrating terrorists into India, according to Gupta. Kuldeep Nayar in the same newspaper wrote that it was in India`s hands to commence the process of friendship with Pakistan.

Dainik Bhaskar`s editorial of April 4 said that President Musharraf had set a unilateral time limit for the talks. Though the Pakistani Foreign Office had denied the statement but the intention behind the statement was clear. What would happen after the time limit is over, the Dainik Bhaskar editorial asked, will Pakistan withdraw from the talks. After getting special ally status, President Musharraf was using diplomacy of pressure at a time while India was in the midst of elections, it said.

The abundance of goodwill that overflowed from the sports pages had its impact on the news pages and the analysis. But a slight negative touch made an appearance when Pakistan featured in the election campaign in India. The Dainik Jagran`s staff correspondent reported from Jaipur, Rajasthan that Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani had said that calling him a Pakistani was an insult to lakhs of people who had come to India from Punjab and East Bengal after Partition. Anusham Tiwari wrote on the same day from Nellore, Andhra Pradesh that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had said that the Congress Party was not happy with the NDA`s efforts to make peace with Pakistan.

However, S Shankar in an article in the Dainik Jagran editorial page on April 10 was out of sync with the atmosphere of fraternal ties that the cricket series had generated. Shankar wrote that it was Pakistan`s mentality that was the cause of Indo-Pakistan tensions. According to the author there is a need to understand the mentality of Islamic exclusivity, which is the root cause of the Indo-Pak dispute. Its aim is to insult India and even breakup the country. Anyone who thinks Kashmir is the main problem between the two countries is naïve. "Living peacefully is our natural desire, therefore we feel it natural that Pakistani people also want the same, but many Hindu aspirations are inconsistent with Islamic mentality. It does not mean that there are no people in Pakistan who want friendship and peace with India, but these people never become effective.

The cricket series had the backing of the two governments as an ice-breaking exercise between the two countries, which meant that the frequent sniping at each other in official statements was absent during this period. The ordinary people of India and Pakistan found much affinity and goodwill for each other that got reflected in the newspapers and almost drove out the suspicion and animosity that are occasionally displayed in newspaper columns.

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