Pakistan and India recently made major headlines in view of their respective security concerns in the larger context of regional security. Both countries found each other engaged in yet another round of temperamental brinkmanship. The current wave of aggression between India and Pakistan, rooted in the suicide attack in the Pulwama district in the Indian administered Kashmir on February 14th, 2019, drew significant attention from all facets of regional politics alongside the domestic politics of both countries. The responsibility of the attack that killed more than forty members of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Pulwama district was claimed by Jaish-e- Muhammad, a militant outfit based in Pakistan. Soon after the attack, Narendra Modi, the Indian premier, promised Pakistan a jaw-breaking response.
It was however not unexpected to see the lack of objectivity in the reports surrounding the aforementioned Indian intrusion and the course of events that followed, on the Indian media
Though what seemed like a game of usual exchange of rhetoric, reached dramatic heights when the DG ISPR, Asif Ghafoor took to his twitter handle to confirm the violation of Pakistan’s air space by Indian aircrafts. It was however not unexpected to see the lack of objectivity in the reports surrounding the aforementioned Indian intrusion and the course of events that followed, on the Indian media. Following Indian adventurism, the rebuttal from Pakistan Air Force (PAF) earlier this week was also misreported amidst misplaced, heightened hyper-nationalist sentiments over Indian channels. This misreporting was apparent particularly in the irresponsible role of Indian media outlets whilst dealing with a matter of such grave sensitivity with potential national and regional implications. The absurdity that surrounds the afore-discussed irresponsibility ranges from issues within the reporting of the incident to the unauthenticated sharing of content over social and electronic media. This also includes television shows and news transmissions with overly charged analysts and military strategists yelling at the top of their lungs, working out war plans, insentiently nurturing a sense of hatred among the audience. Yet, the most significant and a substantially disturbing aspect of this entire Pakistan-India fiasco lies in the means and methods used to channelize an absolutely distorted version of events.
Unfortunate as it is for media houses to operate in such fashion, the reporting and the analyses of the unfolding events over Indian media came majorly blurred by a perversely unreasonable sense of national chauvinism.
India attacked Pakistan and targeted major Jaish-e- Muhammad hideouts – India did not commit any such endeavour.
Indian strike caused massive casualties killing over three hundred men – There was not a single dead body recovered from the site.
India dropped off bombs – Indian planes dropped off their payload, scuttling back to their airspace.
India gloriously avenged the Pulwama attack – Pakistan could not prepare timely enough to strike back.
Pakistan F-16s violated Indian air space – Pakistani planes merely made an attempt but failed to enter Indian air bounds.
Pakistan captured an Indian pilot – Pakistan did not capture the Indian pilot.
The Indian pilot in Pakistan’s custody is being humiliated and attended to brutally – Pakistan’s behaviour with the Indian prisoner is in clear violations of the Geneva Conventions.
Pakistan must hand over Wing Commander Abhinandan back to India – Pakistan must do so immediately.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan announces in a joint session of parliament to release the Indian pilot as a gesture of peace – India managed to force the Pakistani PM to give in.
Imran Khan’s decision to release the Indian pilot met massive appreciation from national and international circles, lauding his approach to revive peace and stability to the region.
Such was the course of news dissemination in India and Pakistan. Whilst some credit can be attributed to the Pakistani news channels for acting out with immense maturity, Indian news channels, carelessly wrote shadowy tales of maybe-s and maybe not-s adding to a flawed sense of achievement, not to mention the toxic hatred that their narratives instilled within the minds of the audience.
Imran Khan’s decision to release the Indian pilot met massive appreciation from national and international circles, lauding his approach to revive peace and stability to the region. However, the news flashes that swarmed the Indian media as soon as the decision was released, were rather disturbing, engendering a prejudiced component, glorifying the capability of the Indian authorities to dictate Pakistan upon its terms whilst originally, this wasn’t the case. India’s roughly four hundred 24/7 news channels, mainly including India Today, NDTV, News 18, the Indian Express, First Post, Mumbai Mirror, ANI and others in their haste to chalk out the most effective war plan for their country completely bypassed the very linchpins of media ethics. With most of them flagrantly prejudiced, the narratives and the misleading, falsified reports added to the already amplified situation, upholding the option of war and potential military adventurism in the needlessly long debates. Old videos, fake facts, with anchors screaming and functioning as on-ground fighters, narrated a tale of triumph blinded by a keen sense of hyper-nationalism.
Given the extensive role of media in shaping and altering of public opinions and narratives, the media outlets and the analysts that huddle up every evening on various TV shows must also recognize the role that their uncalculated, irrational and inaccurate analyses play as major influencers for the public.
Distressing however, remains the obliviousness of the Indian media houses towards the jingoist discourse(s) marred by an irreversible sense of hatred and bitterness fed to the people, by the day and by the night over a period of weeks’ time. This does not insinuate that there is something wrong with the idea of nationalism itself or with the intent to glorify one’s national potential and/or ability. But the Pulwama episode and the subsequent ‘striking adventurism’ between India and Pakistan has necessitated the need to question the role and responsibility of media and journalism in the larger context. This entire chapter of India-Pakistan fiasco will historically be remembered as an instance when the two countries did actually engage in a ‘metaphorical war’ over media channels in their respective countries. The media, be it Indian or Pakistani, must realize the mere fact that when it comes down to matters as sensitive as the one in question, there is little room for engineered overstatements and deliberate compromise of objectivity in the process. Given the extensive role of media in shaping and altering of public opinions and narratives, the media outlets and the analysts that huddle up every evening on various TV shows must also recognize the role that their uncalculated, irrational and inaccurate analyses play as major influencers for the public.
is a graduate from National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad. She holds MS degree in Peace and Conflict Studies. Her areas of interest include local politics, radicalization, terrorism & counter-terrorism and discourse analysis .She currently works as a Research Associate at the Centre for Strategic and Contemporary Research (CSCR), Islamabad.