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...

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...

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...

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...

#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...

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...

#Indian "journalist" Barkha Dutt tells colleague Madhu Trehan how she self-censored while reporting from #Kargil in 1999. She self-censors "anything she saw that Indian #Army did" in #Indian Occupied #Kashmir "in the interest of national security". #media