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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2674

War of Words

By Allabaksh – Syndicate Features

Pakistan’s export of terror to India will remain unchecked until India learns to speak loudly against all the busy bodies in the west who fail to distinguish between the wounds inflicted on India and the consequences of its own follies Pakistan has to bear. Also, India must not only counter Pak propaganda but also cultivate the habit of ‘acting’ rather than ‘reacting’, says the author.

Many in India feel that successive governments on the Raisina Hill have been indifferent to fighting the war of words with our perennially hostile neighbour, who describes India as its ‘permanent enemy’. In the past India might have militarily humbled Pakistan many times—never mind what the Pakistani history textbooks and ‘historians’ of that country say—but it has been repeatedly outwitted by the Pakistanis in the war of words, mostly fought through the media.

This fact is once again in evidence after the Mumbai terror attacks, which India says were planned and executed by Pakistani ‘elements’. Even if for a moment it is assumed that the attacks were launched by men who came from ‘heaven’, nobody, not even Pakistanis, can dispute that India was the clear victim of a terror attack. The world agrees with that. Yet, there is a tendency to hyphenate India and Pakistan. All because of Pakistan’s ability to use its enviable expertise in propaganda warfare to position itself alongside India as a ‘victim’. It becomes obnoxious and really irritating when Pakistan is brought in the same frame as India when discussing terror attacks.

Western expressions of ‘concern’, in the media and official statements, over the tension in the sub-continent are couched in a language that would suggest that Indian reaction to the Mumbai attacks has been excessive. If there are fears of a war breaking out the West attributes it to India uttering the prohibited phrase ‘all options are open’. Could a deeply hurt and wounded India have presented a humble face after the Pakistani audacity in Mumbai?

India has to consider why Pakistan has managed to implant certain misleading notions in western capitals and their media—that after refusing to hand over any ‘evidence’ of Pakistani complicity, India has unreasonably rejected its offer of joint investigation into the Mumbai terror attacks. The biggest myth that Pakistan has successfully created in the world is that there are certain ‘non-state’ players and ‘rogue elements’ in Pak army’s Inter Services Intelligence who act independently.

Leading media organisations in the world, particularly the BBC, make it a point to elaborate the Pakistani viewpoint in any dispute with India but are stingy with the ‘balancing act’ when Pakistan levels allegations against India. For instance, if India buys any defence equipment, the BBC listeners would be promptly told by in-house ‘experts’ or Pakistani guests what a great threat it would be for the poor Pakistanis. The Indian concern over constant arming of Pakistan, much beyond its legitimate needs, is rarely if ever aired on the BBC. How often does one hear a western ‘expert’ questioning the relevance of supplying anti-submarine equipment to Pakistan for fighting terrorists in the mountains?

The BBC, however, cannot be faulted for appearing to be pro-Pakistan when Indian advertisers—including the government of India’s ministry of tourism—are quite happy to fill its coffers by buying its expensive commercial space. The Pakistani government and its business community, on the other hand, have never felt the need to spend more than a dime on BBC advertisements.

The American government runs a radio station for Pakistan from Washington. Since the Mumbai attacks the Urdu language radio station has sounded like an extension of Radio Pakistan, full of hate-filled and provocative comments against India. In its ‘live’ news-related programmes this radio station allowed full freedom to (Pakistani) listeners to parrot jingoist language, abusing India for describing the lone terrorist caught after the Mumbai attack as Pakistani when he is an ‘Indian’ agent.

The whole Mumbai attack was, so we were told by the ‘well-informed’ Pakistani listeners, an Indian ‘conspiracy’ to malign blameless Pakistan because the Indians have the habit of accusing Pakistan even when a ‘cracker’ goes off in the street. Listeners were also regaled with the usual Pakistani boast of its capacity to teach India another unforgettable lesson. The radio station is, as far as one knows, part of the ‘Vice’ (the way Pakistani announcers pronounce the word) of America network. The VOA need not be ‘pro-India’ but is it its policy to broadcast Pak propaganda against India?

It is sometimes heard that organisations like the BBC and VOA sound ‘pro-Pakistan’ because they are able to easily access top leaders of that country for any comment whereas the Indian leadership is elusive. Agreed the Pakistanis have always been media savvy and always make it a point to cultivate the media—even in an ‘enemy’ nation. It is not clear why should foreign media organisations assume that top Indian officials must always answer their call just because they are used to it in another country. The issue is fairness in reporting important events and the need to view and interpret events in correct perspective, instead of allowing judgement to be influenced by propaganda from India’s adversary.

Even if the western media is held blameless what about the political leaders in countries that are supposed to be ‘friends’ of India? India quietly listens to all the hectoring from Washington about the need to exercise ‘restraint’ irrespective of the provocation from across the border. Is it because the leaders in the West continue to subscribe to the policy of hyphenating India and Pakistan, no matter what the situation? Has India tried to tell these leaders that bracketing India and Pakistan on a question like victims of terror is being unfair to India? Or, is it because the Pakistanis know how to ingratiate themselves with the media organisations in the west?

India has failed to bring it into the consciousness of much of the world that there is a fundamental difference between the terrorism that the two countries face. In Pakistan it is always a cent percent home grown phenomenon. The terrorists who attack targets inside Pakistan are drawn from the jehadi army that Pakistan had gleefully raised to safeguard its ‘strategic’ interests. On the other hand the overwhelming number of terrorists who attack India have been Pakistani citizens trained, equipped and sent by Pakistan army’s Inter Services Intelligence. Pakistan sees uses of terrorism against India as a legitimate policy. Pakistan talks about ‘home grown’ variety of terrorists in India who cropped up only around 2002. Most recently the disturbing phenomenon of ‘Hindu terrorists’ has also come to notice—and provided ‘relief’ to Pakistan.

The birth of ‘Hindu terrorism’ is certainly a matter of great worry, even though it is not for ‘export’ unlike the Pakistani variety. But does it justify shifting the blame from the terrorism that Pakistan has been exporting to India since late 1980s? It is also important to note that Pakistani citizens and agencies were involved in all the ‘high value’ attacks on India and its symbols in and out of the country—Red Fort in Delhi, Parliament House, Indian embassy in Kabul, the IT hub of Bangalore and the financial hub, Mumbai.

The purpose of these attacks planned in Pakistan is clear: weaken India and undermine its rising economic power. Pakistan has hardly hidden the fact that it is not comfortable with the 'enemy' gathering economic and political clout on the global stage. Hence, the urge to keep ‘exporting’ terror to India—even during the phase of ‘friendship’! That ‘export’ will remain unchecked unless and until India learns to speak loudly against all the busy bodies in the west who fail to distinguish between the wounds being regularly inflicted on India and the consequences of its own follies and mischief that Pakistan has to bear. The point has to be driven home by India, not only by countering Pakistani propaganda but also by cultivating the habit of ‘acting’ rather than 'reacting'.

- Asian Tribune -

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