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Why Pak expelled Indian Journalists?..Rashmi Talwar / Rising Kashmir


Indian Journalists ousted from Pakistan May 2014

Indian Journalists ousted from Pakistan May 2014


Indo-Pak Relations

Why Pak expelled Indian Journalists?

Rashmi Talwar

May 19th saw two Indian journalists working in Pakistan cross over to their home country from Pakistan. Snehesh Alex Philips of Press Trust of India came through Wagah-Attari Indo- Pak Joint Check Post land route in Amritsar, and Meena Menon from ‘The Hindu’ via Karachi to Mumbai flight. The two, Snehesh and Meena are completely baffled by their unceremonious and sudden ouster from Pakistan, refusing extension of visa, barely nine months after their tenure in Islamabad, Pakistan.

The move to oust Indians by Pak’s foreign office despite Islamabad government’s perceived desire for healthier relations with India is indeed ironic. Infact, newly re-elected Pak PM Nawaz Sharief’s friendly overtures towards India, especially the desire to re-build relations came soon after Sharief’s utterance in Muzaffrabad (Pak Occupied Kashmir) calling ‘Kashmir a flashpoint that could trigger a 4th war between the two nuclear powers at anytime, on Dec 3rd last year’ that peeved India and had to be glossed over. Mending fences after the loud rhetoric, Nawaz tried to smoothen frayed nerves in India. However his desires on cordial relations seem to have ‘irked’ the ‘establishment’ aka ‘Military /Security’, says Mehmal Sarfraz, Deputy Secretary General of the South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA).

Hence merely days after the ouster of two journalists, the Pak PM is again at pains to push the perceived enmity under the carpet, by being the first to congratulate and extend an invitation to the Indian PM designate Narinder Modi after the stupendous win of Bharatiya Janta Party headed by Modi.

Pak ‘establishments’ have always played spoilsports whenever popular home governments have shown a leaning towards bettering Indo-Pak ties. Hence, the assassination attempt of Geo TV anchor Hamid Mir, who was badly injured on April 19th this year in an armed attack, near Karachi airport, was hardly surprising. ISI agency was fuming about Mir’s coverage of the issue of Baluchistan and his criticism of the spy agency. Hamid was termed a pro-India agent in Pakistan by many, as Baluchistan is an issue that India takes up in retort to Pakistan. The subsequent move by Pak Defense Ministry’s cancellation of the broadcasting license of three – Geo News, Geo Entertainment and Geo Tez TV out of five TV channels owned and operated by Geo/Jang group, through ‘Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’ (PEMRA), have clearly spelled out the persons behind the murderous attack.

While Indian Journalist Snehesh Alex Philips snapped “Its a million dollar question!” when I asked him ‘why’ he was shown the door by Pakistan, along with Meena, the answer, it seems is not so mysterious. SAFMA Gen Sect Mehmal adds – “This happened last year too with Rezaul and Anita Joshua. The ‘establishment’ wants to throw around its weight by not letting Nawaz’s government to get its own way vis-à-vis peace with India. The timing seems too suspicious, when India is looking forward to NDA led by BJP- seen as a Hindu nationalist party.”

Pakistan’s army chief Gen Raheel Sharif’s terming Kashmir as the “jugular vein” of Pakistan, on May 1st at GHQ Rawalpindi, also comes in the same sequence, as peace with India is seen as a weakening of the military establishment in Pakistan. Interestingly, Gen Sharief is mentored by ex- Pak President Parvez Musharaff –the architect of Kargil war when Nawaz was the PM of Pakistan. While two statements regarding Kashmir have been made by Pakistan consecutively, to rabble rouse Kashmiris in India, it had little effect in Jammu & Kashmir where most separatists sloganeer for ‘Independence’ rather than melting in Pakistan.

India has termed the ouster of two journalists as a retrograde step. Snehesh Philip’s father, AJ Philips- a noted columnist and senior Journalist-writer stated that the signs were obvious when his son’s wife was not given a visa after she visited India in January this year. Although there is a written agreement between Pakistan-India governments for a reciprocal arrangement allowing two correspondents from each country to be stationed in the other’s capital, the timing of the ouster is being speculated viz-a-viz a new government under Narinder Modi. Modi’s potential foreign policy has caused both anxiety and hope among regional observers. Many fear he might react badly to any incident of terrorism within India, routinely blamed on Pakistan, or a flare-up over the disputed territory of Kashmir.

Like it or not, if Sharif is to deliver on his promises and ensure Pakistan’s progress, he will have to deal with NDA (National Democratic Alliance (NDA). By the journalists’ ouster, Pakistan’s ‘establishments’ have provided more fodder to anti-Pak rhetoric by the newly formed BJP-led Indian government which would further demoralize the elected government of Sharief.

Murtaza Solangi, a former head of state-run Radio Pakistan, pitches that he fears the decision to oust Indian journalists was a sign that the country’s powerful military establishment was reasserting over key areas of foreign policy, in particular the relationship with India. “It seems like foreign policy and national security is going out of the domain of Mr Sharif,” he said. In other words – “The government has been told ‘these things are not your job’.” A case in point is about another journalist. Despite repeated public promises by PM Sharief to look into the case of Declan Walsh, a New York Times journalist, expelled shortly before Sharif’s election, the Pak PM has not been able to arrange his return.

Hence it seems that power may actually be slipping out from the hands of Sharief and it was up to Pak PM to handle this mess or fall into ignominy, with fears of another bloodless military coup hanging over his head, yet again.

BOX
Indian journalists complained of heavy surveillance and being confined to Islamabad
Tweets —–

Achutha Menon: Good beginning, Mr Sheriff, with BP Govt.!
Snehesh Alex Philip: Had a lovely run since August in this case, not even a year ;). Came with an open mind without bias.
Snehesh Alex Philip: I take back home some great moments besides a bit of disappointment. Glad that I saw different sides of Pak and not the usual.
A.J. Philip (Philip’s father): Snehesh says the Pakistanis feared his Facebook-addict father’s posts led to his “expulsion”. I wish it was not a humorous comment and, for once, he was serious!
Snehesh Alex Philip: It is a joke I cracked with my dad.
Snehesh had retweeted some posts lauding Modi’s victory as anticipated by exit polls.
Meena Menon had retweeted: PM’s special envoy stirs hornet’s nest with Kashmir remarks days before Manmohan Singh demits office
Meena had even kept her tweet name ‏@mee’namo’

The author can be mailed at rashmitalwarno1@gmail.com

FIRST PUBLISHED IN RISING KASHMIR ON MAY 24, 2014
URL: http://www.risingkashmir.com/indo-pak-relations/

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Has Pakistan ditched the Kashmiris? ….By Rashmi Talwar / www.sify.com


Has Pakistan ditched the Kashmiris ?

Has Pakistan ditched the Kashmiris ?


Has Pakistan ditched the Kashmiris? ..
..By Rashmi Talwar / http://www.sify.com

At the 8th Regional Conference of SAFMA (South Asian Free Media Association) held at Lahore, comprising media persons from eight South Asian SAARC countries, Kashmir issue appeared to have dimmed and become almost a non-issue.
SAFMA-2013 held its concluding session at Lahore, following its inaugural session in Amritsar wherein India’s external affairs minister Salman Khurshid floated the idea of ‘breakfast in one country, lunch in another and dinner in yet another’ pushing forward for peace between the two neighbours.
However, in one of the most important panel discussions on the theme of ‘South Asian vision for an Economic Union’ in the presence of former Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif, noted columnist and Editor-in-Chief of The Friday Times Najam Sethi,, Nusrat Javed, a famous Pakistani journalist and anchor for Aaj TV, besides Dr Ijaz Nabi Country Director, International Growth Centre, Pakistan, Kashmir issue took a back seat. It seemed that Kashmir was being clearly ditched by Pakistan!
For Kashmiris from India it came as big jolt to hear a Pak speaker say -“The totality of Indo-Pak relations cannot be linked to the single issue of Kashmir.” And further, to make their positions clearer, the speaker said–“We would like to see the welfare of Kashmiris by way of engaging in more trade between both Kashmirs, easing of visas for travel to each other’s places. However, at present, Pakistan has more pressing issues i.e. Indo-Pak trade, water and power generation, which we are greatly hopeful that peace between India and Pakistan is bound to bring in.” And all this time, Nawaz Sharif remained mum, clearly endorsing what was being said-and-missed, about Kashmir.
How would Kashmiris, who suffered for more than two decades aided by Pakistan to revolt against India, feel about this, I wondered. All this time, I had met many Indian Kashmiris, who came to Amritsar and looked longingly at Lahore, from the Indian side of the Attari-Wagha Indo-Pak border, during the beating retreat ceremony. Some, who sat glum during the retreat ceremony came close to grieving over being separated from Pakistan, lamenting that Kashmir on the Indian side, should have been a part of Pakistan.
One, who I met in Amritsar a few years ago, called the border an ‘unnatural divide’ and scoffed disgustedly –“if it were possible, India would station an army man in each Kashmiri kitchen”.
Numberless gullible Kashmiris, who ran the marathon to training camps across the border, were promised a glorious goal of Independence. They returned to fight, flush with money, arms and above all dreams of ‘holy war’ that would ensure a royal place in heavenly paradise for them in case they were ‘martyred’.
Many felt it was easy money and brain washed others to run their outfits in Kashmir with support from across the border. The more vitriolic ones became apples of the eyes of their masters as they fitted in their sinister plans.
There were others who fiercely wrote in newspapers about the atrocities on Kashmiris by security forces while ignoring or soft pedalling the atrocities by the militants. There were those who, while conversing with their counterparts in rest of the country, referred to anything Indian as ‘yours’ and anything Kashmiri as ‘ours’ .
All this while, they were filled with feeling of abhorrence for their present state. The army’s strong arm tactics aggravated the situation. Daily dirges and insults at the hands of the security forces had left them cold and concerned over their future and those of their children. Kashmiris found themselves on a cliff-hanger not knowing whether the militant or the army bullet would kill them.
When the initial itch over being freedom fighters faded and turned sore, the fallout of their actions spilled over. For some hardliners, a bleak future awaited so they tried to continue in their chosen destructive path, sure that their end would come painfully from either of the sides i.e. militants or army. It was a proverbial choice ‘from the frying pan into the fire’.
Others on the sidelines gave only lip service to their bravado and went on with their lives, availing all Indian government sponsored benefits and schemes while leaving them to struggle. Still, they hung on to their ally –Pakistan. Drawing strength and succor from the fact that Pakistan was still their well wisher.
Countless K-agendas raised at International forums by Pakistan had little impact although it endeared Pakistan to Kashmiris. However, Pakistan’s recent position on Kashmiris was shared with Rising Kashmir by a senior Pak bureaucrat who said – ‘Kashmiris had played a double game with them’.
He contended that while Pakistani side had lost more lives than Kashmiris, even as they had pumped in money, men and material as also feted and felicitated them, Kashmiris in turn joined the election process held by India, elected their leaders and lifted them on their shoulders. They availed all Indian government and army schemes.
‘They told us they are unable to offer Namaz in Indian side of Kashmir, but we have seen them freely doing so. They tell us their women are not safe, but their women are freely moving about, getting educated and showing no traces of fear’.
The Kargil misadventure in 1999, after nearly 10-years of turmoil in Kashmir, seemed like a shot in the arm for militants in Kashmir, who saw Pakistan as the saviour. Of course, the battle-end saw Pakistan faced with rebuke and reprimand, as also a royal ignore and the ultimate shaming by US – its funding ally that ultimately punctured its stature in global eyes. Alternately, under the leadership and statesmanship of Indian PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Kargil won India kudos for its restraint in the face of a sly enemy.
Pakistan used Kashmir to save the multitude of high profile chairs, raising the bogey of Kashmir, every time a crisis on home ground erupted. Kashmir served as a diversionary tactics, to gloss over faults of omission and neglect in Pakistan.
US too saw it being used by Pakistan who was trying to fulfil its Kashmir agenda on the pretext of Afghanistan’s occupation by USSR. Therefore, in time, USA too pulled itself out of the mire of Pak mechanizations, cut down its funding and ditched Pakistan partially as the Frankenstein monster of terrorism that it had created sought to feed onto its creator –Pakistan.
Having lost its financial conduit and faced with rebellion and insurgency in its troubled corners, as well as from insurgents it had created, Pakistan today is left with a choice to either save its own or that of Kashmir.
Perturbed over this stand of Pakistan to shelve the Kashmir issue, Shujaat Bukhari Editor-in-Chief of English daily, ‘Rising Kashmir’ raised a query to Pakistan panel and especially to Nawaz Sharif –as one of Kashmiri origin, asking – “If Kashmir issue was to be sidelined thus, why were 23-years and lakhs of lives lost for this cause?” To which he got a reply that welfare of Kashmiris could be in softening of the LoC (line of control) and “not in transfer of territory”.
The sidelining of Kashmir was complete when even in his personal address Nawaz Sharif gave a miss to the Kashmir issue and stated “If voted to power as next President of Pakistan I would bring the same relationship of bonhomie between India and Pakistan as I and PM Vajpayee had brought in February of 1999 by starting the Sada-e-Sarhad, Indo –Pak bus service.”
The present scenario in Kashmir is that Kashmiri households that drilled anti- India venom are left with an educated new generation, many of whom have flown the nest, to seek wider horizons to further their aspirations of a good life, while those who remain are left alone to tend to their festering wounds. Those who supported them from the neighbouring country have now their own hands-full, fighting internal battles, dousing the monster of terrorism that they had created.
Nusrat Javed, the panelist when questioned on the sidelines of SAFMA to clarify the Pakistani stand on Kashmir, counter questioned –“I have a child in Baluchistan crying in pain, should I tend to ‘my’ child or a Kashmiri child?” As a host for a popular programme ‘Bolta Pakistan’ of Aaj TV, Nusrat said people in Pakistanis are least interested in Kashmir issue and his programme’s TRPs drop every time a topic related to Kashmir issue is aired.
It is a fact that Kashmir is fast losing out in terms of media interest in India too. Many foreign media organizations have bid goodbye to Kashmir- a hotbed of news, for past two decades. Reuters, BBC radio and TV, German owned Deutsche Welle , AFP have wound up from Kashmir. Others like The New York Times, Al Jazeera, Time, and Guardian are granting fewer slots to news from Kashmir. It has therefore come as no surprise that Pakistan media too turned its face away to news emerging from Kashmir, which is being relegated to inner obscure corners of leading newspapers.
Mehmal Sarfarz a senior member of SAFMA said in clear terms that ‘Pakistan had decided to drop the issue of Kashmir long ago. If in 60 years, four wars could not solve it, what is the point in pursuing a lame dream, is what Pakistan has slowly realized. With internal problems becoming hard to handle who has the time or the money to fund Kashmir or Kashmiris?’
However there was one such who had the guts to say –“Only those who have been failures or those who set up shops on the ‘tears’ of Kashmir or accrued advantage from the Indo-Pak standoff on Kashmir are banking on continued enmity between both countries. The army in Pakistan is the major beneficiary of Indo-Pak rivalry, he said, because it is only because of the enmity between the two countries that it can retain its hold on the politics and administration of the country. The terrorist outfits in Pakistan are the other beneficiaries who would lose their raison d’etre in case both countries come closer to each other. “They are the ones desperate to sabotage the peace process and stoke the fires of hostility”, he said.
I know Indo-Pak peace would soon be a reality. This statement is not merely a conjecture or hope or guess but based on study of wider spectrum of world affairs, in which US seeks to strengthen and embolden the south Asian region against the growing power of China. China, which is fast emerging, as a bigger threat to US any other country in the world.
The border clash, inhuman torture and beheading of an Indian army jawan and retaliatory killing of Pakistan army man, has come as the most recent example of covert mechanizations. The killing of Kashmiri sarpanches, including shooting a lady sarpanch, are such incidents, which may slow down the peace process, but will not be able to derail it.
FIRST PUBLISHED IN ‘RISING KASHMIR’ ON JANUARY 15, 2013
http://www.risingkashmir.in/news/kashmir-issue-relegated-to-the-back-burner-40044.aspx

SECOND PUBLICATION IN http://www.sify.com URL- http://www.sify.com/news/has-pakistan-ditched-the-kashmiris-news-columns-nbvcIXefhcf.html

Media ‘Jugaad’- Telex to Twitter…SWAM (South Asian Women in Media)….By Rashmi Talwar


Media ‘Jugaad’- Telex to Twitter
By Rashmi Talwar


Two essential tools carried by a reporter- are a ‘nose-for-news’ and ‘Jugaad’- the quick-fix cleverness- the ‘mantra’ behind a great story or visual. Hence it was no surprise when women mediapersons attention was grabbed by ‘Telex to Twitter’ journey that changed ways of news gathering and threw open a novelty of routes with publics and where ‘Jugaad ’frequently played centre-stage .

(Barkha Dutt) A Popular figure on TV and Managing Director NDTV, used ‘Jugaad’ during the unfolding events in Egypt recently via a flip-phone using 3-G services and got a complete stream of the uprise, using ‘skype’ after their cameras and transmission equipment were confiscated by jittery officialdom, as it was seen to embolden the protestors.
In contrast, she relates to time when Abdul Ghani lone was assassinated in Kashmir- and not a phone nearby to report. Another ‘jugaad’ during Kargil conflict when video-tapes were handed to chopper pilots for delivery. Technology indeed has brought a revolution in every strata of news. She was recently addressing women mediapersons at the ‘South Asian Women in Media’ (SAWM) Regional Conference, India Chapter, in Delhi.
Electronic media doubtlessly faces more challenges, though ‘jugaad’ by print media is no less significant in situations risky or requiring presence of mind. At times, a prompt rejoinder or catchword can turn advantageous. A mere ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or ‘blank’ or ‘absence’ can draw a full fledged report.

However, mention of ‘Wikileaks’ made heads turn. (Siddharth Varadarajan ) The RE ‘The Hindu’ elucidated – the Breaking news- ‘MP Shopping’- Rocking Parliament, the connection with the ‘Virtual Internet Tsunami’ –Wikileaks. ‘The cables arrived in top-secrecy from London, uploaded using multi-passwords, studied, vetted before the dark lettering in print’. ‘Yes! We were figuratively labeled, even accused of ‘prurient’ interests for publishing this story’, he admitted and laughed and boomed ‘Journalism is eventually about ‘Power of media’ to take on the powerful’.

Ambika Soni as Chief Guest hailed women journalists as having touched cords and changed the way stories are told, “Stretching Frontiers”. Taking umbrage to gender bias she noted ‘Surely!’-‘it was crucial to sensitize both men and women to problems of women journos’ -We can’t shake hands with clenched fists’

Sunita Aron, RE HT drew nods when she related about covering dacoits, 25-yrs back. ‘Of the two rifled cops accompanying me, one of them asked ‘Are there no men in your office?’

While Shravan Garg Editor Dainik Bhaskar, admitted that women got hired in some papers only to cover women’s issues, the gender bias came to rule an audience that was genuinely perturbed over issues of equal pay, opportunity and maternity leave. All nodded in unison at the pointer that many incidents amounting to sexual harassment of reporters go unreported, because of strong urge not to be cowed down by demented men or self imposed ‘conspiracy of silence’ for being seen as ‘not’ tough enough.

However, it was the comment at the end of keynote address by Patricia Mukhim Editor, The Shillong Times, who called for a ‘break in the glass ceiling in a Ghetto of Patriarchy’ and at the same time censured those who have ‘slept their ways through’.
Sadly, despite Top Editors participation from media houses, not one had a ‘Jugaad’ to bring changes’ in their own establishment for women in media. …..

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