Portrayal of India in Urdu Press of Pakistan

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Manzoor Turabi
The former Washington Post president and publisher, Philip Graham, once described journalism as ‘the first rough draft of history’. Pakistani media houses, especially those associated with the vernacular print media seem totally unaware of this fact and that could be the reason why they are feeding people with distorted news and analysis and thus obliterating facts.
Instead of reporting the events as happened they are sticking to a particular line fed by the establishment and echo the maximalist Pakistani official position and at times even go beyond that. This is true in the case of reporting on India where the objectivity becomes the first casualty. Amid all these they also don’t miss any opportunity to sermonize other media houses about the ethics and norms of journalism. Sermonizing and falsification go hand in hand.
This could also be construed as a well-plan effort to build a narrative which reflects the mind-set of the Pakistani establishment and its conservative clientele base. When on January 2 this year the terrorists attacked the Air Base in Pathankot, the Pakistani vernacular media came down heavily on the Indian media, criticizing it for blaming Pakistan for the attack without proper investigation. It was like the pot calling the kettle black because they are the ones who blame India for almost everything that happens in Pakistan. The Pakistani vernacular media always toes the official line in its reportage and analysis on India. Almost on a regular basis, the Urdu newspapers carry articles and editorials portraying India as a country ruled by ‘Hindu Baniyas’ who, from their point of view, are ‘enemies of Muslims’ and hell-bent on disintegrating Pakistan.
Umpteen articles and editorials have come up recently on India’s role in various terrorist incidents in Pakistan. The masses are made to believe that separatism in Balochistan is also fuelled by India, and the Baloch separatists and other disgruntled persons are trained in different training camps operated by India and Afghanistan.
Besides this, the BJP-led government in India, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are constantly berated. The words used to refer to Narendra Modi are often offensive, and describing them as just provocative would be an understatement. The words commonly used for him include Muzi Modi (Modi the pest), Gujarat Ka Kasayee (butcher of Gujarat), Musalmanon ka qaatil (murderer of Muslims), Insaaniyat ka dushman(enemy of humanity), Aalami dehshat gard(global terrorist), Hindu Baniya, Hindu Intiha pasand (Hindu extremist), etc. Sometimes Hindus in general are also subjected to this kind of vilification.
For instance, Owais-ul-Hassan wrote in an article in Hilal that, “Hindus never came out of the mentality of casteism and untouchability. Backstabbing is an indispensable instinct of Hindus. Moreover, their narrow and dark houses, their way of living, their places of worship and their
stone-made idols indicate that Hindu civilization is meaningless and hollow and to hide that hollowness they
take refuge in wickedness and follow Chanakya’s abhorrent policies of statecraft.”
1 To vent his hatred, Hafeez Saeed, the chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, wrote in an article in Daily Muhasib that, “the narrow mindedness and cowardice of Hindus is not accidental; rather they are born with such instincts.
There is no concept of brotherhood, tolerance and humanity in Hinduism. Hinduism is a religion defined by bloodshed, hatred, selfishness and deceit.” This narrow and skewed narrative set by Pakistani media against India will obviously serve the interests of the Pakistan army and Islamists, but in the long run it will hurt Pakistan more, as it would not help Pakistan to pursue peace with India, which in turn would strengthen the hands of the army.
Post-Pathankot Pleas
As expected, the Pathankot attack attracted attention from both sides of the border. Baring a few, most of the columnists and analysts did not waste any time to declare with certainty that the attack was the handiwork of India. Reasons cited were many, but some were repeated ad nauseam. Some believed that India was never interested in normalizing relations with Pakistan and by doing this they have forestalled the dialogue process. Many others argued that these incidents are orchestrated by India to blame Pakistan with the eternal objective to humiliate and isolate Pakistan globally by linking it to terrorism.
The former Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan, Mirza Aslam Beg supported the first view when he wrote in Daily Ummat on January 4 that, “the RSS and Shiv Sena cadres
within Indian army have done this because they were
not happy with Narendra Modi’s decision to normalize
relations with Pakistan.”
The same newspaper on its front page carried the headline in bold letters, “Hamlay ko Jawaz bana kar Muzakarat say farar honay ki koshishein.” (Making excuse of attack India running away from dialogue) This headline not only gave the impression that the attack was the handiwork of India but it also conveyed that India can go to any extent to evade the process of normalization with Pakistan. The Daily Dunya editorial also called the Pathankot attack as “the conspiracy by India to sabotage peace talks.”
Manzoor Turabi is a researcher in
Pakistan Project of IDSA
To be coontinued

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