January 23, 2006Foreign Affairs

Without understanding

Where are the blinkers?

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

Omar R. Quraishi, writing in Pakistan’s daily Dawn, wonders why the Indian media gave a cold, even hostile, reception to Musharraf’s latest proposal for demilitarising three Kashmiri cities. He, like his fellow columnist Ayaz Amir, finds that the Indian media is given to covering Bollywood and other frivolities, glossing over the ugly reality of the umpteen social and economic problems that plague the country. Again echoing Ayaz Amir in their opinions on foreign policy, Quraishi finds that (unlike the Pakistani press) Indian newspapers hardly ever differ from the government’s position. In reaction to Musharraf’s heavily discounted peace proposal, he writes that even Frontline magazine chose to focus on Pakistan’s continuing support for jihadi groups. In Quraishi’s view, Pakistan deserves better. Not least because the Pakistani media is extending favourable coverage to the cricket series and its musicians making greater inroads into Bollywood popularity?

In this one case at least, greater exposure to India through its newspapers has not contributed to a greater appreciation of Indian sensitivities. Quraishi may be right in contending that the Indian press generally toes the official line when it comes to foreign policy, but many Indians feel that the media has been way too fawning in its coverage of Gen Musharraf. The lofty-softy brigade continues to defy objective reality and frequently advocates further masochism. Quraishi’s fault is that he fails to see why everyone from Kuldip Nayar to the editor of the Indian Express were uniformly unimpressed by Musharraf’s protestations. It was not so long ago that Musharraf had promised to stop sponsoring terrorism against India for even the most dovish newspapers to accept that demilitarisation of just three Kashmiri cities can be accepted in lieu.

Take, for example, the Times of India, which ran an editorial on the interview in its Jan. 10 issue with the headline “Grow up, General”.

The paper did not use the word ‘president’ for Mr Musharraf, instead referring to him as ‘general’ throughout. [Dawn]That is the right title for the man, and not just because that’s what the President of Pakistan’s official website says.

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