Pakistanis blame media for strained India ties

December 1st, 2008 - 3:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad Dec 1 (IANS) A lot of people in Pakistan, shocked as they are by the terror attacks in Mumbai, are accusing the media of the two countries of “irresponsible” reporting and playing a “dirty role” in vitiating ties.”I have been monitoring TV channels and newspapers of both the countries and am shocked that they are insisting that their leaders issue harsh statements against each other,” said Ambreen Hussain, a political science student at Iqra University.

“All anchors of the Indian channels are busy blaming Pakistan for the attacks, while Pakistani anchors are busy refuting these charges and trying to prove that the attacks were done by Indians themselves,” Hussain told IANS.

Misbah Fasih, who works with an international NGO, said: “I believe the media in India and Pakistan are free but highly irresponsible…it seems that either they are not trained to cover events of such sensitive nature or they are trained to excel in accusing others.”

Indian authorities have blamed “elements in Pakistan” for the Mumbai terror strikes. However, Islamabad has denied playing any role in the tragedy and offered to help New Delhi probe the attack. Some Pakistani media reports have suggested that the attacks were orchestrated by Indians for political gain.

Giving examples of the “dirty role” played by the Indian and Pakistani media in souring relations, Fasih said the anchor of a private Indian news channel repeatedly said that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was directly involved in the attacks.

Similarly, a Pakistani private television suggested that India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) had masterminded the attacks for the benefit of the ruling Congress party, which was losing popularity and is likely to lose the polls scheduled for early next year.

“I don’t know if this campaign is sponsored by the respective governments or the journalists themselves are trying to prove their loyalty to the country…this is not nationalism but unprofessionalism,” Fasih told IANS.

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has asked all political parties to attend a National Security Conference Tuesday to discuss the issue of weakening relations with India.

President Asif Ali Zardari has also spoken to several world leaders, including Afghan President Hamid Karzai, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, about the issue.

Zardari has assured them that Pakistan was ready to cooperate with India on the issue of terrorism if any “solid evidence” is provided to Islamabad regarding Pakistan or its people’s involvement in the carnage, which left at least 183 dead and 239 injured.

The general public is hopeful that bilateral relations will soon stabilise and the “blame game” will not escalate to an armed conflict.

“For how long will we continue to fight each other? Enough is enough. The politicians need to solve the problem through dialogue,” said 78-year-old Syed Hanif Shah, who has seen three wars between the two countries.

Shah felt that whenever relations improve between the two countries and people-to-people contact increases, some terrorists spoil the atmosphere. He added that it was sad that politicians try to gain mileage out of such incidents instead of ensuring that peace prevails.

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