Thursday, April 30, 2015

Nepal Quake Coverage Exposes Indian Media's Malice Toward Pakistan

Pakistan's relief efforts to aid Nepal earthquake victims went unnoticed by the hostile Indian media until some doctors from India "discovered" beef packets in the relief material brought in by PAF cargo planes to Kathmandu.

MREs from Pakistan's PANA Foods

This "discovery' then triggered the shameless 24X7 anti-Pakistan propaganda in the mainstream Indian media that was unsparing even amidst the horrific death and devastation suffered by the Nepalese people.

Pakistan Army Field Hospital in Kathmandu
Pakistan's humanitarian relief supplies in response to the tragic suffering of the Nepalese earthquake victims included available emergency stock of MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) that were specially prepared for Pakistani military by PANA foods.  It is possible that the relief supplies contained some beef packets which were clearly marked, as Pakistani foreign ministry spokeswoman Tasneen Aslam explained: "The Meal Ready to Eat (MRE) is a pre-packed kit of 20 items for a full day's meals. On each and every packet inside the kit the name of the dish is clearly written in English and Urdu so that people may choose whatever they like to eat or discard."

Indian Media in Indian Army's Pocket Source: Himal

An Indian reporter of The Daily Mail quoted Dr. Singh, a doctor from India, as saying, “When we reached the airport to collect the food items from Pakistan, we found packets of ready-to-eat meals, including packets of ‘beef masala’. There were other food items too."
Most Googled Product Or Service Source: Business Insider

It seems that the Indian media and Hindu Nationalists have become obsessed with cows and beef since the  election victory of Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year. It has been recently reported by Business Insider that "cow" is now the most googled product in India.  It seems to have been prompted by the beef bans now spreading across Indian states. The most googled product (service) in Pakistan is that of wedding-related products and services.

This is not the first time that Indian media have whipped up war sentiments against Pakistan; there are many many past examples.

In January 2013, India accused Pakistani soldiers of beheading an Indian soldier at the Line of Control in Kashmir. Barkha Dutt, a hawkish TV anchor at NDTV, led the Indian media charge against Pakistan by accusing Pakistani military of "savagery" and "barbarism". Indian prime minister talked of "no business as usual", and Indian Army chief told his "commanders to be aggressive and offensive" and the Indian Air Force chief threatened to  use "other options". Pakistan's offer to have the incidents independently investigated by the United Nations was rejected.

All the talk of "Aman Ki Asha" went out the window when Pakistani hockey players were unceremoniously ejected from India as the right-wing Hindu organizations were aided and abetted by the hawkish anti-Pakistan  Indian media. Hindu Nationalist BJP leader Sushma Swaraj demanded "ten Pakistani heads for one Indian head".

Soon, Barkha Dutt's phony outrage and Sushma Swaraj's bloodthirsty rhetoric about "beheading" were exposed by a quick Google search by Najam Sethi. Sethi found an article in a Nepalese publication Himal in which Barkha described how she was shown a severed head of a Pakistani as war trophy by an Indian Army officer in Kargil in 1999.

Other examples of hate-mongering Indian media coverage include:

1. Alice Albinia in the preface to her book "Empires of the Indus":

"It was April, 2000, almost a year since the war between Pakistan and India over Kargil in Kashmir had ended, and the newspapers which the delivery man threw on to my terace every morning still portrayed Pakistan as a rogue state, governed by military cowboys, inhabited by murderous fundamentalists: the rhetoric had the patina of hysteria."

2. John Briscoe, Harvard Professor and water expert on coverage of India-Pakistan water dispute:

Living in Delhi and working in both India and Pakistan, I was struck by a paradox. One country was a vigorous democracy, the other a military regime. But whereas an important part of the Pakistani press regularly reported India's views on the water issue in an objective way, the Indian press never did the same. I never saw a report which gave Indian readers a factual description of the enormous vulnerability of Pakistan, of the way in which India had socked it to Pakistan when filling Baglihar. How could this be, I asked? Because, a journalist colleague in Delhi told me, "when it comes to Kashmir – and the Indus Treaty is considered an integral part of Kashmir -- the ministry of external affairs instructs newspapers on what they can and cannot say, and often tells them explicitly what it is they are to say."

3. Shekhar Gupta in Indian Express:

Can we deny the fact that every new terror attack on the Pakistani establishment, every development that marks a further decline in the authority of its government is greeted with an utterly unconcealed sense of delight? This is not just the mood of the mobs here. Even the “intelligentsia”, the TV talking heads, opinion page columnists, government spokespersons, all have the same smug air of “I-told-you-so” and “so-what-else-did-they-expect” satisfaction. And they ask the same patronising question: hell, can Pakistan be saved?

Here's a video of Pakistan C-130 Relief Flight landing in Kathmandu during a strong aftershock:

PAF's C-130 Landing in Nepal by PakistanDefenceCommand

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Earthquake Fears in South Asia

Indian Media Manufacturing Consent?

Indian Media Whip Up War Hysteria

Disease Burdens in South Asia

Pakistan's Media Boom

Manufacturing Consent: Political Economy of the Mass Media

India 63 Years After Independence

Pew Poll in India

Media Subdues The Public. It’s So In India, Certainly

Empires of the Indus


Mohd said...

it was an honest mistake.But,pakistan should have accepted and apologised rather than starting a blaming game with india.

Riaz Haq said...

Mohd: " it was an honest mistake.But,pakistan should have accepted and apologised rather than starting a blaming game with india."

It's none of #India's business. India should focus on #NepalQuake relief and let Pakistan do the same

Mohd said...

You r forgetting that Nepal people were not taking the Pakistani aid just because of beef.

Riaz Haq said...

Mohd: " You r forgetting that Nepal people were not taking the Pakistani aid just because of beef."

No evidence of it. It's just false Indian propaganda. Pakistan relief camps, field hospitals are full in Nepal

noter said...

Mohd said >>You r forgetting that Nepal people were not taking the Pakistani aid just because of beef.

When a man is dying, he pays less attention to the content of the food.
And it was not even food, just a beef masala, like something in a pouch.grow up
These hindus are so obessed with us, like an ex girlfriend.

Riaz Haq said...

#GoHomeIndianMedia trending in Nepal after insensitive Indian media coverage of Nepal earthquake.

#India media stir up anti-#Pakistan propaganda on beef masala. Shows insensitivity amid tragedy. … #GoHomeIndianMedia

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - Why is #India media facing a backlash in #Nepal? #GoHomeIndianMedia …

One biting (Nepalese) cartoon showed a (Indian) TV reporter in the pocket of a gleeful Indian soldier posing with a box screaming Aid for Nepal.

"The shrillness, jingoism, exaggerations, boorishness and sometimes mistakes in coverage have rankled the host community," Kanak Mani Dixit, editor of the highly respected Himal magazine, tells me.
Indian media's overdependence on access-based journalism means that a disproportionate amount of coverage often ends up on eulogising how their government and its agencies handle crises - there was similar criticism of the media's coverage by flood-affected people in the Kashmir Valley last year.

Some channels also pretty openly identify themselves with the ruling government and the bias is amply reflected in the coverage.
"The mainly social media backlash in Nepal does point to an irritation of local people with the way their tragedy has been covered by India," says Kanak Mani Dixit. "It is possibly time now for India's news channel to introspect and give some due respect to the host country."

There are mounting worries at home over the declining quality of Indian media and what many call the "tabloidization of news". Also, more disturbingly, as Prannoy Roy, chief of India's leading NDTV news channel worries, "Why is India becoming 'no country for honest journalism'?"

Riaz Haq said...

Baby '#Pakistan' born in #Nepal in Pakistani-run field hospital. #NepalEarthquake via Al Arabiya English​

The second baby to be born in a Pakistan Army field hospital in Nepal since the devastating earthquake on April 25, has been named Pakistan in honor of the country that aided its birth, the news website Dawn reported citing Inter-Services Public Relations on Monday.

The field hospital was built by the Pakistan Army to support relief efforts in earthquake-struck Nepal.

According to Pakistan daily, the Foreign Office stated last week “the first baby born at a Pakistan Army field hospital had been named ‘Lahore’.”

During a visit by Nepal Army Chief General Guarav SJB Rana to a Bhaktapur field hospital on May 3, he expressed ‘his gratitude over the support extended by Pakistan’ through the army, and that the country would always be remembered by the people for providing medical care and supplies to the victims of the earthquake.

Riaz Haq said...

Indian media and beef controversy: Using Nepal’s tragedy to defame Pakistan
By Birat Gautam Published: May 7, 2015

The Indian team seemed to only be concerned with rescuing Indian nationals residing in Nepal. TIA was overcrowded due to hundreds of Indians waiting to be airlifted and a large number of Indian planes parked at the runway. This caused utter chaos since it disrupted the schedule of other planes that had to land. For instance, a plane from China had to be sent back because the airport was overflowing with Indian planes and passengers. A TIA official stated that TIA was virtually being controlled by Indians.

Kathmandu witnessed a large number of Indian soldiers and media-persons. Quake affected locals reported that the Indian search and rescue teams on social media were reporting and advertising rather than rescuing survivors. Three Indian helicopters rescued 118 people, whereas four Nepalese helicopters rescued 656 people,

The reason behind this gaping difference in rescued people was that the Indian aircraft was only concerned with airlifting Indians; moreover, they reported this incident on Indian news channels under the pretence that Indians are rescuing Nepalese survivors – and not just Indian nationals. Apart from this incorrect coverage, India has been vocally anti-Pakistan since the beginning of this tragedy.

Online media reported that India hinted to the Nepalese foreign ministry to not allow Pakistani support through, ensuring that India would do everything instead. However, the foreign ministry did not oblige to India’s request and Pakistani aid started to pour into Nepal, in the form of sacks of eatables and relief materials.

The Indian media kept a close tab on Pakistani goods and searched every possible loophole to blame the Pakistanis in some issue or the other. Later on, the Indian media reported that Pakistani relief materials contained ‘beef masala’. This became a topic of controversy since the relief packages were sent to a Hindu-majority republic.

Pakistani foreign office spokesperson, Tasnim Aslam, cleared the issue by publically announcing that,

“There was no beef content in the ready-to-eat food dispatched by Pakistan to Nepal.”

Despite this official clearance on the accusation and no statement by Nepal, the Indian media are turning the issue into a propaganda aimed at derailing relations between Pakistan and Nepal. Many Nepalese were saddened by the Indian propaganda which was aimed at damaging Nepal’s proximity with Pakistan.

Officials at the Nepalese Press Council, Nepal’s media monitoring authority, and the former chairperson of the organisation of Nepali journalists, Suva Gaule, and many other Nepalese were critical of India’s anti-Pakistan activities in Kathmandu, as reported by Nepal’s popular online news portal

Hindu volunteer organisations and its activists are at the forefront of the anti-Pakistan activities in Nepal. Popular yoga guru, Ramdev, was at the forefront of the beef propaganda, as was obvious from his Facebook updates. However, beef masala was not of any concern amongst Nepalese citizens.

Instead, numerous famous artists and citizens staged a demonstration against unnecessary Indian interference in Nepal.

Nepal is a Hindu-majority Himalayan nation; it is not a ‘Hindu kingdom’ as described by India’s Zee News. Nepal is a federal democratic republic as well as a secular nation. True, the Nepali Civil Code Amendment 1990 has made cow-slaughtering punishable by 12 years in prison, but, it does not mean imported beef items are completely banned. No Nepali law states a ban on beef items from foreign countries. At present, Kathmandu’s star hotels import beef items to serve foreigners.

The entire point of sensationalising such a petty issue only reflected badly upon the Indian government, not Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

August 3, 2008, 10:01 am
Filed under: India, Nepal
Movement of RAW in Nepal , a book by Dr Shastra Dutta Pant
At the time when local newspapers, political leaders, intellectuals, among others, are talking about the active presence of Indians while destabilizing our politics as well as the economy, thus making defunct one after another institutions, Pant has brought out the publication “Nepalma RAW Ko Chalkhel (Movement of RAW in Nepal).

There are many questions yet to be answered. Just look at the current issues: Why the Royal Palace massacre took place immediately after the late King’s China visit? Why the parliament passed the finance bill in a disguised manner? Was King Birendra’s decision to consult the Supreme Court before giving Royal assent on a controversial bill the reason for the Royal Palace bloodbath? Why Indian political leaders put pressure on the marriage of the then Crown Prince Dipendra? How could the Maoists get safe shelter in
Indian territory? How did they get arms from India? Why the five political parties are launching a “joint-movement” at the time when the Maoists have announced cease fire? Why the political parties are trying to limit the Royal Palace role as well as the Army affairs? Why KV Rajans are here at the time of change of the government? After all, who are running such games from behind the scene?

One may get some answers to the above questions while reading the book “Movement of RAW in Nepal”.It is strongly assumed that the Indian intelligence unit is actively involved in manipulating newspapers, intellectuals, political leaders making them supporters of India. The fact is that leaders of major political
parties do not speak about the Kalapani issue, the India constructed embankments inundating Nepalese fertile soil, border encroachment by the Indians, among others.

It is very much interesting to note that Nepal has no problem with our neighbouring country China whereas we are facing countless problems with India, either it is in the operation of the dry-port in Birgunj or export of ghee, beer etc..While giving the background, the publication explains about RAW activities
while creating Bangladesh from Pakistan, RAW activities in Bhutan, Maldives, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Sikkim annexation.

The main objective of the RAW is to create internal trouble in neighbouring countries and take benefit from the trouble that the neighbouring countries face. That apart, their present interest towards Nepal is to fail the Nepalese economy and create monopoly in the Nepalese market. India is showing double-standards towards Nepal. On the one hand the Indian government is supporting our government with arms on the other the RAW is supporting the Maoists.

RAW, a powerful Indian intelligence – Research Analysis Wing – ultimately aims to defunct Nepal.The publication has cited on Nepal-India government level relations,relations of political parties and people of the two countries, and Nepal’s relations with RAW.The publication has also referred to the RAW intention and expectations in Nepal.

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - #India opposes #Nepal's new constitution …

Nepal's adoption of a new federal constitution has led to a souring of ties with its giant neighbour India.
The document defines the majority Hindu nation as a secular republic divided into seven federal provinces.
Although Delhi was one of the major backers of the process over the past decade, it believes the new constitution is not broad-based and is concerned that it could spur violence which could spill over into its own territory.
India's reaction in the past few days to events in Nepal has been quite remarkable.
On Friday, just a couple of days before the constitution was formally adopted (but after it had been passed by the Constituent Assembly) India's top diplomat was sent to Kathmandu at the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar held discussions with Nepal's president and prime minister and leaders of all the major political parties including those who had opposed the constitution in its current form.
He is believed to have pressed the Nepalese government to delay the adoption of the constitution and hold discussions with political groups opposed to it.
Reports in the Indian media say that India's ambassador in Kathmandu spoke to Prime Minister Sushil Koirala hours before Sunday's constitution ceremony to express Delhi's disappointment at the process going through.

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - #Nepal constitution: Mind your own business, media tell #India. #BackOffIndia … …

India's reaction to Nepal's new constitution and the violence preceding and following it, has been criticised by Nepal's media and Twitter users.
The Indian government expressed "concern" over the constitution and on Monday recalled its ambassador to Nepal for urgent consultations.
Since then, leading Nepalese newspapers have been criticising what they see as interference.
More than 40 people have been killed in protests in areas adjoining India.
'Crossing the red line'
"Certainly, while drafting the constitution serious problems have erupted in our country," says the prominent Nepali paper Kantipur, but goes on to add that "it is for us to solve these problems".
"A neighbouring country's coming into the picture, or its being invited to solve our internal problems and challenges, is not acceptable at all," the paper says.
The English-language Kathmandu Post says in an editorial that "Delhi would do well not to be seen as crossing the red line to meet its objective. It could box itself in a difficult position and see it lose its diplomatic leverage against certain parties and sections of the polarised society".
My Republica, another English daily, carries a prominent story on how former Nepalese diplomats find Delhi's response "inappropriate".
"If India involves itself in the micromanagement of its neighbouring countries, such a move may give a wrong message to the international community," the paper quotes Shankar Sharma, Nepal's former envoy to the US, as saying.
Another paper, The Rising Nepal, adds: "In all, India has not yet supported the new constitution, which many fear would invite trouble in the shape of rousing disturbances in the Terai region which borders India."
Fuel worries
Meanwhile, the response from Nepalese Twitter users has been even stronger, with the hashtag #backoffIndia trending worldwide till late on Tuesday, with more than 180,000 tweets posted on the day.
The violence in Nepal is also said to be affecting the supply of fuel in the capital, Kathmandu, and other major towns. Nepal relies on India for fuel but reports say many truckers are wary of entering Nepal because they fear violence from clashes between protesters and police.
Twitter users in Nepal are concerned about this, with some accusing India of deliberately stopping the fuel supply.

Riaz Haq said...

Nepal looks to China for trade amid India hiccups

Kathmandu: Nepal has urged China to reopen the two trading points on the Sino-Nepal border at the earliest amid problems along the border with India, media reports said on Friday.
Amid a diplomatic standoff with New Delhi over Nepal's new constitution and continuous unrest in the country's southern border with India, Kathmandu is now mulling an alternative to do business with China.
India and China are landlocked Nepal's two giant neighbours.
Nepal is surrounded by India from three sides and China on the north. Nepal's over 90% trade and economic activities are with India as nationals from both sides do not need visa to travel to each other's country.
According to Nepali media reports on Friday, with the supply of essential commodities being hit by disturbances at major custom points in the southern plains, the government has urged Beijing to reopen trade routes that have remained out of operation following the April 25 earthquake.
Officials from the ministry of commerce and supplies of Nepal held talks with Chinese embassy officials here on Wednesday and Thursday.
They requested Chinese assistance for an early reopening of custom points at Tatopani and Rasuwagadhi, two key trading points between Nepal and China.
"With major festivals like Diwali and Dussehra around the corner, we have requested China to resume border operation as soon as possible," said Naindra Prasad Upadhyaya, secretary at the ministry.
He added that the Chinese authorities had responded positively.
The Rasuwagadhi route came into formal operation in December 2014. Since the April earthquake, the trade routes of Barabise-Tatopani-Khasa and Nuwakot-Rasuwagadhi-Kerung have remained closed.
According to the ministry, the Chinese government has been undertaking road repair on its side of the border.
"We are ready to open the border as soon as the Chinese side completes work on their end."
Upadhyaya said a meeting of the Central Monitoring Committee of Nepal on Thursday also decided to ask China for speedy road repair in Kerung (Rasuwagadhi).
The meeting also decided to coordinate with the ministry of physical infrastructure and transport to clear roadblocks on the Araniko highway in order to request the Chinese side to reopen the Tatopani customs point.

Riaz Haq said...

Opinion: After #Pakistan, #India's #Modi Isolates Another Neighbour: #Nepal … via @ndtv

Modi's propaganda machine, never far behind Goebbels', swung into action when Modi visited Nepal in August 2014, proclaiming that Modi had visited neighbouring Nepal within weeks of becoming PM whereas Dr. Manmohan Singh had failed in ten years to go to Nepal even once.

Saner voices tried to explain that this was because Nepal was engaged in a delicate Constitution-building exercise and an Indian PM wandering the hills and plains of its tiny neighbour would be misunderstood and mischievously portrayed as India seeking to interfere in that country's tangled, seven-year-long Constitution-making process. But saner voices are always drowned out in the cacophony of crowing hype. And the fact that little Nepalese children (the cutest in the world) waved back at Modi as the 56-inch giant strolled barrel-chested down their roads was played up as a huge diplomatic success.

The truth took another three months to hit home. On his way to Kathmandu for the SAARC summit in November 2014, Modi sought to make a stop-over at Janakpur in the Madhesi plains to address a huge public gathering there as if he were on Indian, not Nepali, soil. The principal Constitutional gridlock was over the plains people seeking proportional representation in the proposed Nepal parliament and the hill people's demand for equitable not equal representation. Modi, by stopping-over and speaking at Janakpur, was trying to tilt the balance in favour of the Madhesis. A more blatant interference in Nepal's internal affairs could not be imagined. The Nepalese shrewdly saw through the game. And refused Modi permission to hold a public meeting in Janakpur. This was covered up in polite noises about security issues - but was an unambiguous signal from the self-respecting and sovereign Nepalese that while friendly advice might be welcomed, there could be no stepping on sensitive, sovereign corns.

Modi passed up Janakpur but remained determined to remain the final arbiter in Nepal's constitutional processes. Why this unwarranted interest in Nepal's internal affairs? Two reasons - one, ideological; two, electoral.


Instead of partisan (indeed, let's face it, racial) bickering with the Nepalese, Modi needs to recognize that there are not just two or three communities in Nepal with ethnic ties to India, such as the Madhesis, Tharus, Janjatis and Muslims: Nepal is trying to strike a just balance between 125 identified communities stretching from remote, sparsely habited mountain outposts to the teeming plains. It is doing so through a combination of 240 first-past-the-post directly elected seats and 335 proportionately elected seats; special provisions for ethnically cohesive provinces for the plains' people; 33 percent reservations for women; and other such progressive provisions that India ought to be applauding, not sulking over.

Alas, good grace is not one of Modi's virtues. The best the rest of us could do is to apologize to the Nepalese for the atrocious behaviour of our establishment and wish them all the best for a stable future. Otherwise, Nepal, like Pakistan and Sri Lanka, will keep meandering for a Constitution with which it can live.

Riaz Haq said...

Is #India's #Modi's "Neighborhood First" Policy collapsing? #Nepal #Pakistan #Maldives … via @dailyo_

Ajit Doval, said to be “handling” Nepal, took his eye off the game. Presumably, he was busy with Pakistan and the NSA talks-that-were-never-held. Doval is also the PM’s special representative with China, which means he is fully updated with developments in that country. The episodic attention to Nepal was a readymade recipe for disaster.

Third, by the time a furious PM asked his foreign secretary to travel to Kathmandu to make amends, it was already too late. Jaishankar’s tough and unforgiving attitude made things worse, at least in the eyes of the Nepali leadership, whom he told in no certain terms that a Constitution that marginalises the Madhesis was a bad idea. As to the 117 Madhesi MPs from parties like the Nepali Congress who voted in favour of the Constitution — evidently, there was a party whip and they couldn’t refuse — he wanted to know why they had betrayed the cause.


The real problem with the PM’s Neighbourhood First policy is that it is excitable and episodic. The Pakistan story is too old to recount. Even the success in Bangladesh almost didn’t happen when the Assam BJP wanted to keep the state out of the land boundary agreement. Now rumour is that India is about to execute yet another about-turn with the Maldives —Sushma Swaraj is expected to visit soon — and make nice with its proto-dictator Abdulla Yameen.

Remember that PM Modi had cancelled his visit to Male when Yameen threw the democratically elected former president Mohamed Nasheed into jail. India is now petrified that Yameen is opening the floodgates to China and believes it must keep the dialogue going to try and prevent that from happening. Delhi remembers well the recent Chinese statement: “The Indian Ocean is not India’s.”

Although Ajit Doval is said to be also “handling” the Maldives, he and Jaishankar clearly agree that a democrat-president can be sacrificed for a pragmatic cause (read China). It is significant that the foreign secretary didn’t bother to visit Nasheed who was under house arrest (he is since back in jail) when he visited Male a few weeks ago. In fact, if pragmatism is the name of the game in Delhi, Nasheed is among the few who can really tell Delhi about the Chinese — and what happened when they tried to woo him.

So as the prime minister charms America, flanked by his two key aides Ajit Doval and S Jaishankar, the thought surfaces: Let him also spare a thought for India’s crisis-ridden neighbourhood.

Riaz Haq said...

Groundswell of anger in #Nepal agnst #India. #Nepalese accuse #Indians of deliberate economic blockade to pressurize

At first India was publicly unhappy with the new constitution that its Himalayan neighbor passed last week. Then Indian trucks carrying cooking fuel, gasoline, salt, sugar and rice stopped crossing the border with Nepal after local protests erupted against the new charter.

The result: There is now a groundswell of anger against India in Nepal, a country still struggling to recover from the devastating earthquake in April that killed over 9,000 people and left tens of thousands more homeless.

The Nepali people are accusing India of punishing them by deliberately blocking the supply of essential goods. What makes matters worse is that the landslides caused by the earthquake have destroyed alternate supply routes from China and increased the landlocked nation’s reliance on imports from India.

People in Nepal are calling it the “unofficial economic blockade by India.”

On Monday, Nepal’s Home Ministry said the country is facing an "emergency" situation in fuel supply. Long lines are a common sight at gas stations across the country. Angry protesters are shouting anti-India slogans on the streets. Nepal’s cable television association has stopped showing 42 Indian news and entertainment channels across the country because of rising anger among the people.

Indian officials say that there is no official embargo and that the truck drivers carrying goods are afraid of going into Nepal because of the violent demonstrations by the ethnic minority groups living in the country's southern plains. The groups, considered close to Indians, are seeking greater political power in the new constitution.

Dozens of people have been killed in the protests. “The reported obstructions are due to unrest, protests and demonstrations on the Nepalese side, by sections of their population,” Vikas Swarup, India’s foreign ministry spokesman, said last week. But analysts in Nepal contest the Indian statement.

The head of the Nepal Workers and Peasants Party, Narayan Man Bijukchhe, said India has declared a “communal war” with Nepal. The former attorney general in Kathmandu, Yubaraj Sangraula, called the lack of supplies “an act of aggression.”

The shortage of fuel and goods has brought back horrific memories for many people in Nepal who suffered an official economic blockade by India in 1989. New Delhi shut down border crossings into Nepal and cut off links to an Indian port after a trade dispute. That blockade lasted 13 months.

Riaz Haq said...

Shivam Vij: "#India looks bad rebuffing #Pakistan peace overture" at #UNGA2015. #Modi #NawazSharif. @DilliDurAst …

In his speech at the United Nations General Assembly yesterday, Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made a direct proposal to India to normalize relations. India immediately and summarily rejected his overture, blaming Pakistan for terrorism and taking strong exception of his description of Indian-administered Kashmir as a foreign occupied territory.
In the never-ending saga of India-Pakistan relations, it is usually Pakistan that looks like the party that does not want peace. It is Pakistan that gets blamed for terrorist attacks in India, heightened military confrontation on the disputed Kahsmir border, or militant incursions. Now, with New Delhi not responding even to very specific Pakistani proposals for reducing tensions, India risks being seen as the party that is shunning dialogue and peace.
The Pakistani prime minister proposed putting into a signed document the 2003 ceasefire agreement. Back then, India and Pakistan did not sign that agreement due to diplomatic differences over phraseology. Nevertheless, the 2003 agreement did result in substantially reducing tensions on the disputed Kashmir border, at least until 2013. Over ten years, a lot of military and civilian lives and property were saved. Signing such an agreement can only be in India's interest.

India instead blamed Pakistan for ceasefire violations. It is true that Pakistan's ceasefire violations in Jammu and Kashmir are often aimed at helping militant incursions, but it is not as if India doesn't respond to them.
An objective outsider can never tell what the two armies - standing eye to eye on a volatile disputed border - are up to. That is why the monitoring mechanism of the United Nations Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan, better known as UNMOGIP, can only be to India's advantage. While Pakistan wants an enhanced role for UNMOGIP, India would rather have UNMOGIP's international observes pack up and go home.
India says that Kashmir and other disputes are strictly between India and Pakistan, and that the two countries signed an agreement in 1972 that there would be no third party.
However, Nawaz Sharif did not seek the UN's intervention in mediation, or dispute resolution. Indeed, India is missing the departure from the strict Pakistani line that Kashmir needs a plebiscite under the UN Security Council resolutions. That is the usual Pakistani rhetoric meant to go nowhere.
But Nawaz Sharif this time tried to show meaningful intent by proposing that India and Pakistan reaffirm that they will not use, or even threaten to use, force against each other. India could take this up and demand commitments from Pakistan on terrorism, asking Islamabad to walk the talk and bring to justice the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008. India could also ask Pakistan to reciprocate India's commitment to not be the first to use nuclear weapons.
Nawaz Sharif proposed demilitarization of Kashmir, to which India has responded by saying that the real solution is “de-terrorizing Pakistan”. However, Pakistan did not demand demilitarization of only India-administered Kashmir. This would apply to both sides of the disputed border. India knows better than anyone that Pakistan's terrorist infrastructure is centered in Kashmir. India could demand linking demilitarization of Kashmir to Pakistan shutting down Kashmir terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Riaz Haq said...

Shivam Vij: "#India looks bad rebuffing #Pakistan peace overture" at #UNGA2015. #Modi #NawazSharif. @DilliDurAst …

It is bizarre that India is unwilling to seriously talk to Pakistan to achieve peace and stability in the region. Military action against a nuclear-armed Pakistan is not an option for India. Pretending that Kashmir is not a dispute is not viable. Pakistan is India's greatest foreign policy challenge and India's answer seems to be disengagement.
Talks announced in July went nowhere; they were announced clearly under international pressure. India and Pakistan both typically blamed each other for the failure of talks. India said it would not let Pakistan pay even lip-service to the Kashmir issue and won't let Pakistanis meet Kashmiri secessionists.
Now, with Pakistan making specific proposals to bring down tensions, it is looking difficult for India to make Pakistan look like the party that does not want peace. In this game of play-acting before the international community, India thinks it can isolate Pakistan. But, India might be punching above its weight because Pakistan's geographic location makes it important to the international community. To keep the Taliban in check in Afghanistan, the world needs Pakistan. Deepening Pakistan-China relations have also been a cause of concern for India.
Given these circumstances, it would be fruitful for India to accept Nawaz Sharif's overture, sit down for talks, show serious intent, and not put forward unreasonable and pointless demands. Should there be another Pakistan-backed terrorist attack in India, it will be Pakistan, and not India, that will look like the party in the wrong.

Riaz Haq said...

Shivam Vij: "#India looks bad rebuffing #Pakistan peace overture" at #UNGA2015. #Modi #NawazSharif. @DilliDurAst …

It is bizarre that India is unwilling to seriously talk to Pakistan to achieve peace and stability in the region. Military action against a nuclear-armed Pakistan is not an option for India. Pretending that Kashmir is not a dispute is not viable. Pakistan is India's greatest foreign policy challenge and India's answer seems to be disengagement.
Talks announced in July went nowhere; they were announced clearly under international pressure. India and Pakistan both typically blamed each other for the failure of talks. India said it would not let Pakistan pay even lip-service to the Kashmir issue and won't let Pakistanis meet Kashmiri secessionists.
Now, with Pakistan making specific proposals to bring down tensions, it is looking difficult for India to make Pakistan look like the party that does not want peace. In this game of play-acting before the international community, India thinks it can isolate Pakistan. But, India might be punching above its weight because Pakistan's geographic location makes it important to the international community. To keep the Taliban in check in Afghanistan, the world needs Pakistan. Deepening Pakistan-China relations have also been a cause of concern for India.
Given these circumstances, it would be fruitful for India to accept Nawaz Sharif's overture, sit down for talks, show serious intent, and not put forward unreasonable and pointless demands. Should there be another Pakistan-backed terrorist attack in India, it will be Pakistan, and not India, that will look like the party in the wrong.

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - Has Narendra #Modi's #India's foreign policy bubble burst? #Nepal #Pakistan …

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has returned to India after a high-profile visit to the United States where he rubbed shoulders with global leaders, met industry representatives and also reached out to the large and increasingly influential Indian diaspora.
The highlight of the visit was his trip to Silicon Valley - the first by an Indian premier in decades. It was high on symbolism - the Bay area is where many Indian Americans have built their professional reputation and, of course, a number of them now head some of the world's leading technology firms.
But even as the prime minister wowed the US, there is trouble back home - in India's immediate neighbourhood.
Its relationship with China has never been particularly strong; Maldives and India are straining at the edges and ties with Sri Lanka are only just back on track. And in recent weeks, India's relations with two of its most significant neighbours, Nepal and Pakistan, have turned decidedly rocky.
That's not good news for a prime minister who not long ago appeared to place improved relations with India's immediate neighbourhood at the core of his foreign policy. So what has gone wrong?

A spat with Nepal over the country's new constitution is threatening to break out into a full-fledged diplomatic row.
India is Nepal's powerful neighbour but is the only country that did not wholeheartedly welcome its new constitution after protests by ethnic communities living in the plains bordering India.
The protesters have blocked the main border crossings into Nepal from India, choking off a key supply route through which the landlocked country gets much of its requirements, including fuel.
Nepal has accused India of both fanning the protests and imposing the blockade. Delhi has strongly denied this, saying truckers are refusing to cross the border because of the security situation on the other side.
It's an astonishing turnaround in relations which many Nepalis find inexplicable.
Last year, Nepal was among the first countries that Mr Modi chose to visit after his landslide election victory.

If relations with Nepal are bad, those with Pakistan are back on familiar ground.
There is tension along the border, acrimonious exchanges at the UN and almost no progress on long-delayed peace talks.
But even here, there had been a flicker of hope a year ago.
Mr Modi surprised everyone by inviting Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Delhi for his inauguration. Mr Sharif surprised most by attending, apparently against the wishes of his powerful army chief.
Since then, scheduled foreign office talks and a planned meeting between the national security advisors of the two countries have been called off by India because of differences over Kashmir.
In Islamabad, many believe that Mr Modi has undercut Mr Sharif.
Cancelling the talks "weakened Nawaz's ability to improve relations with India", writes Saira Bano of the Stimson Centre in The Diplomat.

Riaz Haq said...

#India Army threatened me for #Kashmir coverage: Veteran Journalist Shekhar Gupta - Rising Kashmir …

Noted Indian journalist, Shekhar Gupta Thursday said he would often receive threats from the Indian Army and other government establishments for covering Kashmir.
“We got a lot of flak for covering Kashmir,” he said speaking at the book release function of Aina Numa, a collection of writings of the former Member of Parliament and editor of ‘Aina’, late Shamim Ahmad Shamim.
Gupta, who remained the editor-in-chief of Indian Express for 19 years and also served as the vice chairman of the India Today Group for a while, was the chief guest on the occasion.
“When we broke the story of Pathribal fake encounter in Indian Express, and did a number of investigative follow up stories, I was getting phone calls from the Indian Army who would tell me, ‘What type of stories are you covering,’” he said.
Gupta, a recipient of Padma Bhushan award for his contribution to journalism, writes a weekly column ‘National Interest’ for India Today magazine and hosts an interview-based television show ‘Walk the Talk’ on NDTV news channel.
He said Kashmir was inextricably woven in the national security story and had been covered as a problem not as a place or people.
“National media sees it purely through the paradigm of that story – Line of Control, infiltration, gunfights, militants, and so on,” Gupta said. “This type of journalism has bedeviled the concept of Kashmir in India.”
Gupta, an author of Assam: A valley divided and India redefines its role, said it was unfortunate that journalists with very little knowledge of Kashmir were parachuted to the Valley to cover Kashmir.
“These people spend a week inside a hotel, do not even come to know about the day-to-day problems of the people like long hours of power curtailments, and return with stories of underlying danger of security increasing in Kashmir,” he said and accepted that Indian media had never been truthful with Kashmir coverage.
Gupta, who did his initial schooling from an RSS-run institution, said reporting anything truthful, embarrassing, or a setback was seen to be anti-national.
“But does it serve the national interest? We came to the conclusion that truth will never hurt the national interest,” he said. “We did a story when the GoC of the 15 Corps called DCs and SPs and told them to target people under the Public Safety Act and we did stories on fake surrender of militants, Srinagar sex-abuse scandal, and the killings of three persons allegedly by the DGP Kuldeep Khoda.”
Gupta, a keen Kashmir watcher, who has written extensively on Kashmir, said Kashmir does not need parachute journalists.
“Previously, calling an encounter a fake encounter was seen as a punishable act but it is no longer so as troops are now even punished in court martial proceedings,” he said. “There still are distortions but the coverage is much more open now.”
Gupta also criticized the Indian media for hyperbole while covering Nepal earthquake after praising Indian Army out of way during the coverage of Kashmir floods.
“We didn’t learn our lessons in Kashmir and we paid for it in Nepal,” he said.
Gupta said he had been laying a stress on reporters to report stories other than that of conflict from Kashmir.
“I tell them there is a state of Kashmir and the people there have their aspirations, they have their problems, there is a story on power cuts, shortage of jobs, how well Kashmiris are treated in different parts of India,” he said.
Gupta said Kashmir journalists working in India were serving as great ambassadors of Kashmir.
“My mother won’t believe Bangladesh had fallen until Mark Tully reported it and Rajiv Gandhi won’t believe his mother was dead till Mark Tully reported it,” he said asking Kashmiri journalists to be ambassadors of Kashmir like Mark Tully.
Gupta said there cannot be any better tribute to Shamim Ahmad Shamim than knowing that people of his profession from Kashmir were doing good.

Riaz Haq said...

#China refuels #Nepal as #India fails to deliver - via @FT

China is to supply fuel to its impoverished neighbour Nepal for the first time, amid a halt in Indian supplies that has severely disrupted life in the mountainous country still struggling to recover from April’s massive earthquake.
Nepali officials flew to Beijing on Monday to negotiate the terms of the petroleum purchase deal, which will in effect end the longstanding role of India’s state-owned Indian Oil Company as Nepal’s monopoly fuel supplier.

Nepali government officials have said the initial transaction will lead to China providing 1.3m litres of fuel, but analysts suggest it could evolve into a long-term arrangement that would end Nepal’s dependence on India.
The deal comes as Nepal and its 28m people face crippling fuel shortages amid severe disruptions to supply from India.
“Nepal is reeling,” Kanak Mani Dixit, publisher of Kathmandu-based Himal Southasian magazine, told the Financial Times. “The hospitals don’t have oxygen. The ambulances don’t have gasoline and the roads are empty. All industry has come to a standstill.”
New Delhi denies imposing a deliberate fuel blockade on its poorer neighbour, blaming the disruption on the unwillingness of Indian truckers to pass through parts of Nepal where residents are protesting — sometimes violently — against a recently adopted constitution.
But after nearly a month of fuel and cooking gas shortages, most Nepalis believe the crisis is the result of New Delhi seeking to force the country to change the document.
“India is trying to blunderbuss its way to forcing Nepal to be a client state and do its bidding so the Indian state can get what it wants,” said Mr Dixit. “But India must understand that it is playing with fire, which will ultimately not do itself any good.”
Nepal’s constitution — crafted after more than nine years of tortuous negotiations — was adopted in September with a two-thirds majority of Nepal’s elected constituent assembly. But it has been criticised by members of the Madhesi community, which lives in Nepal’s plains, accounts for 32 per cent of the total population and has close ethnic, cultural and social ties with people from the adjacent regions of neighbouring India.
Many Madhesi politicians are aggrieved that the plains — home to about half of Nepal’s population, including people from other ethnic communities — was not designated as a distinct province but divided into different parts of multiple provinces. Madhesis have seen this drawing of state boundaries as a deliberate plot to weaken their political influence.
New Delhi has not called publicly for any particular changes, but has urged Nepal to find a “mutually acceptable solution” that will satisfy all parties.
The tension between Kathmandu and Delhi is an unfortunate turn in a relationship that was poised for strong improvements a year ago, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi became the first Indian premier in 17 years to visit Kathmandu.
In an emotional address to Nepal’s constituent assembly in November last year, Mr Modi won many hearts by speaking in Nepali, emphasising the ancient cultural, spiritual and social ties between the two countries, and promising to help boost Nepal’s physical and economic “connectivity” to India.
India also won many hearts with its rapid rescue and relief efforts after Nepal’s devastating earthquake in April.

Riaz Haq said...

#India blockade has shattered my dreams, says #Nepal PM K P Sharma Oli. #NepalChokedByIndia via @timesofindia

Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli on Sunday said his dream to develop the Himalayan nation as "vibrant" had been shattered by the "embargo imposed by India". Receiving a memorandum submitted by academicians on Sunday, Oli said his plan to make Nepal a developed nation was under a cloud. Nepal's economic growth witnessed a sharp fall following the April 25 earthquake which claimed over 9,000 lives and devastated vast areas of the nation.

After being elected prime minister, Oli said, he had made many commitments to the nation, including ending the long daily load-shedding, plying electric vehicles in Kathmandu, and building a self-reliant economy. "I had dreamt several dreams on becoming prime minister," he said.
"I became prime minister in a very difficult situation. As we were trying to overcome the pain caused by the quake, the embargo along the border came as a serious jolt," he added, "I have been trying my best to overcome the pain and suffering."

Oli admitted that he had not been able to fulfil his commitments because of the unrest in Nepal's southern plain for the last four months. Due to protests and demonstrations at the border, thousands of Nepal-bound freight vehicles are stuck on the Indian side of the border

This has brought the economy of the landlocked Himalayan nation to a grinding halt. Officials say that if the standoff continues, Nepal will soon face a humanitarian crisis.

Riaz Haq said...

#China to build rail link with #Nepal to end #India's monopoly on land trade route to land-locked #Himalayan nation …

Underlining the growing role of China in South Asia, Nepal on Monday secured transit rights through China following an agreement in Beijing between Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang.

Earlier, China extended a ceremonial welcome to Mr. Oli who held official talks with the Chinese leadership. News reports said Mr. Oli would also conclude agreements on building of multiple train routes connecting Nepal with China’s key production centres.

However, playing down the impact of the agreements between Nepal and China, official sources told The Hindu that the future of the agreements depended on the issue of “economic viability” of the transit facilities and train connectivity projects.

The Ministry of External Affairs, however, refused to issue an official statement immediately, considering that the agreements were between two sovereign countries.

However, officials pointed out that India-Nepal ties could not be compared or curtailed by Nepal’s agreements with China.

“After all, 98 per cent of Nepal’s third country trade goes through India and to the port of Kolkata,” an official pointed out. India at present has two rail lines under construction and three more are being planned to increase Nepal’s trade ties.

During the February visit of Prime Minister Oli to New Delhi, India agreed on giving dedicated access to Nepal to the port of Vizag.

Officials pointed out that in comparison to the Nepal-China agreement, India and Nepal had 25 crossing points, two integrated checkpoints and 2 more checkpoints were under construction.

Even as official sources played down the impact of the transit rights through China, Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli clinched in an agreement with his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang in Beijing on Monday and other proposed agreements for rail connectivity, diplomat and academic Dr. S.D. Muni pointed out that the development represented “a challenge not just for India but for entire South Asia.” However, he cautioned, it should not trigger a panic reaction from India.

Dr. Muni pointed out that China would have to ponder about how it could implement a rail and transit agreement for Nepal without opening up the Tibet region to the world.

“Rail connectivity from Nepal to China will be used by the non-Chinese to travel to China through Tibet. Will China open up Tibet to facilitate connectivity for Nepal?” asked Dr. Muni.

The agreements, however, will take some time before being implemented on the ground and political developments may impact the deals concluded. However, Dr. Muni pointed out that the implementation of the deals would depend on how far China was willing to invest in Nepal considering the economic and political risks associated with the deals. However, as of Monday, Nepal could not seal a vital fuel supply agreement with China which Nepali sources said would also come up for detailed discussion during the seven-day visit of Mr. Oli to China.

Nepali commentator Kanak Mani Dixit, pointed out that the five month-blockade on the Nepal-India border which ended in February, “pushed Nepal to open its northern borders with China for transit trade.”

“Historically, the Himalayas were seen as barrier but now the Himalayas can be a connector between Nepal and China,” said Mr. Dixit, underlining that transit and train agreements will create new dynamics in South Asia.

Riaz Haq said...

"9 out of 10 #Indians who eat #beef are from #Indian Institutes of Technology" #India's Minister Giriraj Singh. #IIT …

The Modi minister, known for his controversial statements, dropped another bombshell on Thursday.
M I Khan reports.

Giriraj Singh, a member of Narendra Modi's council of ministers, now has a peeve against IITians.

"Aaj samaj mein jo bachche gir gaye hain ha, gau maans kha rahein hain. Padhe likhe dus log jo gau maans kha rahein hain unmein se nau IITs ke hain (People who have fallen in society eat beef. Out of 10 educated people who eat beef, 9 are from IITs)," Singh, the Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Nawada, Bihar, said on April 21.

Earlier, Singh demanded that the voting rights of couples with more than two children be revoked, to develop the nation.

"If Malaysia and Indonesia can make such a law, why can't we?" the minister asked, adding, "The nation won't progress without population control."

"There must be a balance. Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians -- all must have at least one to two children. Those who don't follow, their voting rights must be revoked," Singh declared.

"A law is needed on population control for all religions if development is required," he added.

On Wednesday, Singh said if India did not change its population policy and enforce a two-child norm for all religions, then the nation's daughters would not be safe and may have to wear a veil as they do in Pakistan.

Speaking at a cultural yatra in West Champaran's Bagaha town, Singh was apparently referring to Bihar districts Araria and Kishanganj, where the Muslim population has increased faster than the Hindu population.

Riaz Haq said...

#Nepal cancels President visit as #India-#Nepal ties sour. #Nepal recalls its Ambassador in #Delhi via @sharethis

In a move without parallel, the Nepal government had cancelled the trip of President Bidhya Devi Bhandari to India barely 72 hours before her departure for Delhi, without giving any reason. This was coupled by another act of vengeance, the recall of its ambassador, Deep Kumar Upadhyay in Delhi.
Both these acts came barely 24 hours after Prime Minister K P Oli defeated a move to unseat him from the post, under an initiative taken by the main opposition party, the Nepali Congress. The move was to have seen Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Chairman of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists and the second largest constituent in the cabinet, lead the new government.

The move collapsed at the last minute after Dahal entered into a fresh deal extracting promises from Oli that he will withdraw all politically motivated cases pending against Maoist leaders and cadres during the decade-long insurgency dating back to 1996.
Oli reportedly believes that India was behind the move to topple him. The decision to scrap president’s visit to Delhi, along with the recall of Ambassador Upadhyay, clearly indicate that Oli is upset with India.
A seasoned Nepali diplomat, someone not enamoured of India and its role in Nepal, went to the extent of calling it an ‘unfriendly act’. Bhandari who became President a week after Oli, Chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), took over as the prime minister in October, belonged to the same faction of party, and apparently do not differ much in her views on India.
Bhandari’s proposed visit was being viewed as a move to explore traditional cordiality in bilateral relations that suffered a series of setbacks especially after India supported the Madhesi groups anti-constitution protests and the subsequent blockade for months beginning in September, csusing Nepal an acute shortage of essential goods and fuel.

Riaz Haq said...

#India ‘3rd most dangerous’ nation for journalists after #Iraq and #Syria via @htTweets #freepress

The murders of journalists Rajdeo Ranjan in Bihar and Akhilesh Pratap Singh in Jharkhand within 24 hours of each other confirmed a 2015 international report that named India among the three most dangerous countries for media personnel.
Since 1992, 64 journalists have been killed in India with reporters exposing corruption the most hunted, says a compilation by the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Most of them died in smaller towns where graft is rampant and exposing it means earns the wrath of powerful politicians and industrialists. Earlier this year, a group backed by the Chhattisgarh government forced journalists Malini Subramaniam and some lawyers out of the Maoist-affected Bastar region. Activists also said the state administration was muzzling free speech after three journalists were arrested on allegedly flimsy charges.
The high death rate of journalists in the country is only lower than war-torn Iraq and Syria. India is the deadliest nation for reporters in Asia, more than Pakistan or Afghanistan.

Riaz Haq said...

South Asian media
All hail. The Economist

India’s press is more craven than Pakistan’s
Oct 22nd 2016 | DELHI | From the print edition

most Indians assume, their media are freer. When Cyril Almeida, a Pakistani journalist, revealed earlier this month that he had been banned from travelling abroad after writing a story that embarrassed Pakistan’s security forces, India’s tabloid press gloated.

The Schadenfreude proved short-lived. To general surprise, Mr Almeida’s colleagues rallied in noisy support. Pakistani newspapers, rights groups, journalists’ clubs and social media chorused outrage at his persecution. The pressure worked; the ban got lifted.

On the Indian side of the border, however, there has not been much critical examination of the government’s actions. Instead, Indian media have vied to beat war drums the loudest.

When an army spokesman, providing very few details, announced on September 29th that India had carried out a retaliatory “surgical strike” against alleged terrorist bases along the border, popular news channels declared it a spectacular triumph and an act of subtle statecraft. Some anchors took to describing India’s neighbour as “terror state Pakistan”. One station reconfigured its newsroom around a sandbox-style military diorama, complete with flashing lights and toy fighter planes. A parade of mustachioed experts explained how “our boys” would teach Pakistan a lesson it would never forget.

Such jingoism was predictable, given the fierce competition for ratings among India’s news groups. Disturbingly, however, the diehard nationalists have gone on the offensive against fellow Indians, too.

This month NDTV, a news channel with a reputation for sobriety, advertised an interview with Palaniappan Chidambaram, a former finance minister from the opposition Congress party. Mr Chidambaram was expected to say that previous governments had also hit back at Pakistan, but with less fanfare than the present one. Abruptly, however, NDTV cancelled the show. An executive sniffed that it was “not obliged to carry every shred of drivel” and would not “provide a platform for outrageous and wild accusations”.

Arnab Goswami, the anchor of a particularly raucous talk show, has declared that critics of the government should be jailed. Extreme nationalists in Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, have urged filmmakers to ban Pakistani actors. One party has threatened to vandalise cinemas that dare show a Bollywood romance, “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”, due for release later this month, which features Fawad Khan, a Pakistani heartthrob. The film’s director, Karan Johar, has aired a statement declaring his patriotism, explaining that the film was shot before the current trouble and promising never again to work with talent from “the neighbouring country”. One commentator described his performance as akin to a hostage pleading for mercy.

Why, asks Mr Chidambaram, are the media toeing the government line so slavishly? Some answer that they have become ever more concentrated in the hands of big corporations, many of which carry heavy debts and so are wary of offending the party in power. Others ascribe the shrinking space for dissent to the unchecked rise of chauvinist Hindu-nationalist groups. Repressive colonial-era laws on sedition and libel also play a part.

Riaz Haq said...

#Indians, What to do if you can't hate a #Pakistani? #BJP #ABVP

Last week, I got a frantic call from my friend V, who seemed very upset.

“I can’t tell you what I’ve done!” he sobbed over the phone.

“What happened?” I said. “Did you stab someone in murderous rage?”

“No,” he said. “It’s worse.”

“Did you accidentally slap your boss?

“Even worse.”

“Did you forget your anniversary?”

“I allowed a Pakistani to hug me.”

“Oh my god, tell me you didn’t!”

“I did, I did,” he said, and began to wail so loudly I had to hold the phone away from my ears.

I let him wail peacefully for five minutes.

“Okay, enough,” I said. “Sometimes bad things happen to good nationalists.”

“But why me?” he said tearfully. “I’ve hated Pakistan all my life. I’ve been a member of the ABVP since the age of two. What will I do now? With what face will I ask anti-nationals to go to Pakistan? They will laugh at me.”

He blew his nose extensively, which seemed to calm him a bit, but grated on my nerves.

“Look, we all make mistakes,” I said. “What matters is how we make amends.”

“I know what you mean,” he said. “I’ll surrender myself to the police. I’ll confess that I was hugged by a Pakistani.”

“But how did this happen?”

He then told me the whole sordid story. Apparently, V, a tax consultant, had attended a conference of tax consultants in the Bahamas, which is a Mecca for tax consultants, and a favourite tax haven of patriotic Indian politicians, some of whom were his clients. One of the conference delegates happened to be from Pakistan, a man named — you guessed it — Khan.

One balmy evening, after a day spent exchanging notes about the global best practices in tax dodging, V was having dinner in an open-air restaurant and generally minding his own business, when the Pakistani sat down at his table and began to make small talk. V, of course, put up a strong resistance.

“Nice weather,” Khan had said.

“Pakistan must be hell,” replied V. “How do you guys manage?”

“I love your shirt,” said the Pakistani.

“What was Kasab like as a friend?”

“I quite enjoyed your presentation.”

“Do you work for the ISI?” V persisted. “How do you juggle tax consultancy and terrorism?”

“India is a beautiful country,” Khan answered. “Indian women are lovely.”

“Really?” V snarled. “Your ‘love jihad’ won’t work any more.”

“India and Pakistan have so much in common,” Khan said. “It would be wonderful if we could visit each other easily.”

“You guys visit us anyway, sneaking across the border once the snow melts.”

“I’ve always condemned cross-border terrorism,” Khan said, helping himself to an olive.

“Do you dodge bullets on your way to work?” V said. “How does it feel to live in a failed state right next to a vibrant democracy like India?”

Khan’s response was sedate. “As a young nation, we have a lot to learn, and we are learning from India too.”

“He was charming like the devil,” V recalled. “He paid for my food, my drink, and even shared a few accounting tricks I didn’t know before.”

“You mean, you actually liked this Pakistani guy?” I said, disbelievingly.

“I... I couldn’t help it,” V stammered. “By the time we were leaving, we’d become such great friends, he gave me a hug. To be honest, I didn’t mind it at the time.”

“That’s utterly shameful,” I said.

“I realise that,” V said. “My biggest fear is, what if every Pakistani turns out to be as likeable as the one I met? What if they are not all devious, evil monsters out to destroy India?”

I couldn’t believe my ears. “You are sounding like Arundhati Roy,” I said, which was the worst insult I could think of, and I hung up.

Riaz Haq said...

Arun Shourie On Media Freedom: #Indian govt raids are an attempt to intimidate #India's free press. #Modi … via @ndtv

My dear friends, I want to first begin by expressing my deep gratitude to Narendra Modi. He has brought so many friends together. And as a return favour, I want to read him a couplet, which Kuldip Nayar will tell us who it is by:

Tujhse se pahle vo jo ik shakhs yahan takht-nashin tha
Us ko bhi apne khuda hone pe itna hi yaqin tha

(He who occupied this throne before you
He too believed himself to be God as much as you)

And as that is from a Pakistani poet (Habib Jalib) I must protect myself by reading from the Granth Sahib: Ram gayo, Ravan gayo, jake Bhau Parivaar...Ye bhii jaayenge. (Ram is gone, so is Ravan, and these people too will go.)

So we must have that confidence. As there is no fact that needs to be added, no point in law that needs to be added after the person who has been the shield of freedom in India, Mr Fali Nariman, has given us such a good exposition.

I will address the question which (journalist) Nihal Singh sahib proposed. The question is: What should we do? And as Mr Kuldip Nayar said, it is not necessary to answer this question, at the time of the Emergency, but the fact of the matter is every generation is taught the lesson of freedom.

So this time, once again that lesson has begun. The first thing we must do is to recognise that a new phase has begun. Because thus far the government was using two instruments. One was to stuff the mouth of the media with the bribe of advertisements. There is a Zulu proverb that a dog with a bone in its mouth can't bark. So, they were converting the media into a dog with the advertisements in its mouth that cannot bark at them.

And the second point was, they were controlling and managing the media by the subterranean spreading of fear: Yaar, tum jaante nahi ho, Modi sab sun rahaa hai, uske paas saari team hai, ye hai, woh hai... Amit Shah CBI ko control kartaa hai, kal tumhaare par ye hogaa...Arre yaar, ye ho gayaa hai, phir bhi aadmi zindaa hai (points towards Prannoy Roy). Phir bhi channel chal rahi hai. (You know, Modi is listening to everything. He has this big team, he has this, he has that...Amit Shah controls the CBI, tomorrow they will do this to you... But, this has happened (the CBI raids) and the man (Prannoy Roy) is still alive. The channel is still going strong.)

You must see that now they have got what they could from those two instruments. So now they are using the third instrument, which is overt pressure. And they have made NDTV an example of that. And this will intensify in the coming months, I believe this will intensify. One because of the nature of the regime, the nature of the regime - its genes are totalitarian. What does totalitarian mean? Total domination in the entire geography of India, in every sphere of life - in all fora, they must dominate. So, they are extending it step by step, if you look at the pattern. The second is, that the gap between what they claim in their advertisements and speeches, and what the people are feeling on the ground in their lives - whether you're a farmer or a person who is losing his job, that is so wide already but that will become wider in the next two years as investments doesn't revive and other things happen. For that reason, they will then take to not just managing but suppressing the voices of dissent. So that's the first thing to realise.....

Riaz Haq said...

Dangerous liaison: #Bhutan people drift away from #India, toward #China as #Dolklam continues. #IndiaChinaStandoff

As the Doklam crisis continues to linger, Bhutan seems to be drifting away from India. In the capital, THE WEEK finds young Bhutanese openly proclaiming their love for China. Even monks and senior officials are not immune to China’s charm

Outside the arrival gate at the Paro airport, the only international airport in Bhutan, I was greeted by a gush of wind on August 11. It was, however, not too cold, and thick clouds were kissing the surrounding hilltops. As the taxi reached the outskirts of Thimphu, the capital city 48km away, it started raining heavily. And the lush green hills glittered like a string of pearls.

Bhutan has been witnessing a glittering transition over the past decade. Once a conservative monarchy, it made a smooth switch to democracy in 2008. Three years ago, the country witnessed a dramatic break from the past as the young king, Jigmey Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk, publicly kissed his wife, Jetsun Pema—twice on her cheeks and once on the lips. The king’s public display of affection hinted at a big change in the Himalayan kingdom.

Some of the changes are quite visible. I was under the impression that smoking was banned in Bhutan, and that there were no pubs or discotheques. But the taxi driver, Karma Dorjee, said there was no such ban. “This king is great. He has given us the freedom of choice,” said Karma. In Thimphu, I saw several pubs and discotheques. “Young girls dance here for money. These dance bars are only for adults,” Karma said. Although smoking is banned, tourists and others were puffing away in public. And, public displays of affection are no longer taboo.

What seems forbidden is any discussion of the Doklam standoff in the trijunction of India, Bhutan and China. “Two big nations are fighting and we are caught in the crossfire. We don’t know where will we go if war breaks out,” said tour operator Sonaem Dorji.

So, no open support for India. Is support for China growing?

Sonaem said some Bhutanese supported China out of fear. “They will finish us if we get closer to them. China is a nasty country and we don’t want it to be here in any form. India controls Bhutan, but it will never invade us,” he said. As I spent more time in Bhutan, I realised that people like Sonaem could be in the minority.

For an official reaction to the Doklam crisis, I rang up the prime minister’s office and requested an appointment. Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay replied through his personal secretary: “For the next two months, I am totally occupied. I have a series of meetings and foreign trips.” The secretary directed me to the ministry of foreign affairs, with a word of caution. “If you raise the Doklam issue, you will not get any response. It is a calculated decision, which has come from the top. No one would speak a word,” he said.

Foreign Minister Lynopo Damcho Dorji’s secretary told me over the phone that the minister was in Nepal for a conference of BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation). “Neither the minister nor the officials would make any further comment on the Doklam standoff,” he said.

Located in northwest Bhutan, Doklam is an inaccessible piece of strategic real estate. The crisis erupted after China started building a paved road, which can carry vehicles up to 40 tonnes, in the region. It would have linked Bhutan with Tibet and threatened the vulnerable Siliguri corridor.

Strategic experts in Bhutan say that, to resolve the crisis, India should respect the Anglo-Chinese treaty (1890), which has been accepted by successive Indian governments since independence. “And that clearly says India would have access to Nathu La while China could access Doklam,” said political commentator and blogger Wangcha Sangey.

Riaz Haq said...

Geopolitically, the (Nepal) elections also reveal to what extent China will emerge as a viable alternative to India in Nepal's foreign policy. Nepal, sandwiched as it is between the nuclear rivals, is the quintessential buffer state. Although India has long been the dominant actor in Nepalese foreign policy, the country faced a tipping point during the 2015 blockade at the India-Nepal border. The nearly five-month ordeal exposed Nepal's almost singular economic dependence on trade routes crossing through India and gave the government an incentive to diversify its relations through closer ties with China. In addition, the blockade caused many of the ruling elite in Kathmandu to cast a suspicious eye toward India, believing that the government in New Delhi tacitly supported the blockade.
Although none of the parties explicitly aligned themselves with India or China during the campaign, clear preferences along party lines emerged in rhetoric and in the minds of voters. Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba's ruling Nepali Congress party is generally seen to be pro-India, while the recently stitched-together Left Alliance between the country's two main communist parties is seen as pro-China. Left Alliance leader and former Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli also suggested he would renegotiate treaties with India and try to forge closer ties with China if elected. Going forward, the election winner will be able to draw the country closer to India or China through development deals. For example, Dueba's administration recently revoked a contract for a hydroelectricity project held by a Chinese firm, with rumors suggesting it will be awarded to an Indian firm.

The elections mark a critical phase in Nepal's transition to democracy, though the country has a long way to go as it embarks on the arduous task of administering a new political system. One thing, however, is certain: The rivalry between India and China for influence in Nepal will only ramp up.

Riaz Haq said...

What the Success of the Left Alliance Means for Nepal

But perhaps the biggest reason people rejected the NC this time has to do with the 2015-16 shutdown of the Nepal-India border. As the Congress has always been close to New Delhi, its leaders were at the time seen as mincing their words in condemning the ‘Indian blockade’. But while they vacillated, Oli and his comrades felt no such qualms. They openly blamed India for bringing misery to Nepalis.

Deuba and company were seen as weak and doing ‘India’s bidding’. In contrast, Oli came across as a strong nationalist leader who was not afraid to call a spade a spade. Oli, the blockade-time prime minister, got the credit for courageously standing up to the ‘Indian bully’.

Oli back then also signed the landmark trade and transit agreements with China. These agreements ended Nepal’s total dependency on Indian ports for business with third countries and put paid – at least in terms of optics if not reality – to India’s monopoly on the supply of fuel. Both these acts were seen favorably by Nepalis who had felt humiliated by India’s highhandedness during the standoff. India-bashing has traditionally been a foolproof electoral strategy in Nepal, and Oli milked it.

Perhaps Prachanda, who has long since abandoned his revolutionary zeal, also realised that it would for the moment be wise to align with Oli and try to steal some of his thunder. On the campaign trail, Prachanda was seen as openly projecting Oli as the new prime minister. Apparently, the deal is that while Oli will lead the country, Prachanda will head the new party formed after the left merger. (A more cynical interpretation is that Prachanda is looking for Oli, who has multiple heath issues, to step down sooner rather than later so that he can then become the undisputed communist leader in Nepal.)

China’s puppet?

Speculations are rife that with the Left alliance poised for at least a simple majority, and very likely a two-thirds majority, the new government under Oli will firmly align with China. But this would be an over-simplification of the ground realities in Nepal. Oli understands very well – as does Prachanda, who in 2009 lost his prime minister’s chair after angering India – that no government in Nepal can afford to be seen as openly anti-India. Former Indian foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon rightly refuses to label Oli ‘pro-China’ and thinks of him as ‘just another politician doing whatever is convenient to get to power’.

Oli, who was until a few years ago among India’s most trusted lieutenants in Kathmandu, embraced the pro-China nationalist image because he knew it would pay off electorally. But once in power, he will not need to be so openly hostile to India and will, in all likelihood, make efforts to mend his frayed ties with New Delhi, safe in the knowledge that there is no immediate threat to his government.

Riaz Haq said...

#Indian #Muslim: How I Got Over That Dark Geographic Shadow Called #Pakistan: “Musalman ke do hi sthaan, qabristan ya Pakistan” (A Muslim has only two choices of abode – graveyard or Pakistan). #BJP #Modi #Islamophobia … via @thewire_in

Pakistan became an enemy that came between my friends and me occasionally, and between my country and me often. My yearning for acceptance of my loyalty as an Indian was strong, even though it came at the cost of irrationally bashing ‘Pakistan’ for its cricket and its politics, and anything that kept me on ‘the side of my people’ was acceptable to me.

So, Pakistan, with which I had maintained a safe distance growing up, came close, uncomfortably close, when my husband had to travel to Pakistan for his journalistic pursuits. It was almost an irritation when my father had to go to the Pakistan High Commission to fetch my husband’s visa in his absence.

My work got me in touch with Pakistani academics and researchers, and that is when I began to know Pakistan as its people. I found a window into their research, courses, and universities, daily email exchange and communication grew, and very soon my Facebook profile could list at least a hundred ‘friends’ in Pakistan. In early 2017, as my son recovered from a major heart surgery at Jaypee Hospital, I learnt of a family who had traveled from Pakistan for their son’s surgery. Our children were in the same ICU, fighting bravely for life, and outside, their Indian and Pakistani mothers shared their grief and bonded over the pain that they were going through. After three months of tough fight, the Pakistani boy passed away, and I remember his inconsolable mother as she cried in disbelief at her misfortune and the futility of her struggle. The little hope and courage that I would gather every day to see my son for two minutes every morning in the ICU seemed ruptured, and I could feel her pain. I hugged her, as this was the only solace that I could offer to another mother, who happened to be a Pakistani.

A few days ago, I was at the Chaophraya Emerging Leaders’ Dialogue in Bangkok. A first of its kind in a nine-year-old Track Two dialogue between India and Pakistan, the dialogue brought together mid-career professionals who represented the next generation of leadership across industry and scholarship from both countries.


I can claim to know the ‘people’ side of Pakistan now, which is as humble, passionate, and desirous of amity as are the people in India. They are also progressive, articulate, and ambitious, as are my people.

I can appreciate them for what they are without the fear of being abused and demonised for this. I have come of age. But not all Indian Muslims who are subjected to verbal abuse and violent attacks and are repeatedly asked to ‘go to Pakistan’ will have the opportunity of mental healing. School-going Muslim children, who are derogatorily called ‘Pakistani’ by their classmates, will grow up as vulnerable and marginalised adults. No cricket enthusiast will ever be able to appreciate cricket for the spirit of the game, and no one will offer a hand of friendship.

So next time, when some Vinay Katiyar (founder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s youth wing, Bajrang Dal) asks Indian Muslims to go to Pakistan, we should be able to tell him: I belong to India, it is my homeland, and Pakistanis are friends.

Riaz Haq said...

#Modi refuses to meet #Nepal PM's special envoy to discuss #Kalapani row amid souring ties. Kalapani is a 35 square kilometre area, which is claimed by both India and Nepal as an integral part of their territories.

The Narendra Modi government has refused to meet Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli’s special envoy Madhav Kumar Nepal, who was expected to arrive on a trip to New Delhi earlier this week to discuss the contentious issue of Kalapani.

Kalapani is a 35 square kilometre area, which is claimed by both India and Nepal as an integral part of their territories — India as part of Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh district and Nepal as part of its Darchula district.

Madhav Kumar Nepal, the former PM of the landlocked country and senior leader of the Nepal Communist Party, was expected to visit India to discuss the latest row between New Delhi and Kathmandu over Kalapani, sources told ThePrint.

Nepal was planning to visit New Delhi between 4-5 December and wanted to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to urge him to “immediately establish” a foreign secretary-level dialogue mechanism to settle the border dispute, the sources said.

But, they added, the Indian government refused to meet the special envoy.

Nepal eventually cancelled his plan to come to India.

Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali said Thursday it has not yet received any response from the Indian side on their request to meet Indian officials.

The high-level dialogue mechanism, consisting of foreign secretaries of both the countries, to settle Kalapani and other issues was finalised by former and late external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj during her visit to Nepal in July 2014.

However, despite a subsequent visit by PM Modi to Nepal in August in the same year, the mechanism was never put in place, though he gave a renewed push to settle the Kalapani and Susta boundary disputes.

The present dispensation in Nepal has come under massive pressure from the opposition parties to take a firm stand against India over the unsettled issue of Kalapani as well as Susta, which are on the country’s western and eastern borders, respectively.

Ever since India released a new map on 2 November this year, there has been a spate of protests in Nepal over New Delhi’s move to show Kalapani as part of India. Nepalese students, affiliated with opposition party Nepali Congress, were seen burning the new map in front of the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu.

The sources also said the “invisible hand of Beijing” cannot be ruled out in the entire controversy as Kalapani also borders Tibet and, therefore, China is closely monitoring the developments.

Nepal is also part of the mega ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI), under which China is planning to build a massive trans-Himalayan railway network in Nepal connecting both the countries.

“If India can solve the boundary issue with Bangladesh, which also included a maritime boundary, then why not with Nepal, with which we have a special and friendly relationship. We have given Bangladesh much more than they needed, then why let the issue fester with Nepal,” asked Jayant Prasad, veteran diplomat and former Indian ambassador to Nepal.

He said he doesn’t see any reason for the Indian government to not solve the border issues. “This (India’s delay in discussing the matter) will only help those who are inimical to India-Nepal friendly ties,” added Prasad.