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December 02, 2007
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December 02, 2007

Page: 18/36

Home > 2007 Issues > December 02, 2007

Media Watch
Media callous on dictators

THE saddest and most revealing part of the Indian media?s attitude towards the Emergency imposed on the people of Pakistan by a besotted military dictator is its indifference. One would have imagined that the print media would devote more time and attention to it. Yes, the Emergency was a lead story in all papers but in no time it came to be treated as just one more story on the front page eliciting a yawn.

The Times of India (November 5) recalled Karl Marx?s famous dictum about history repeating itself, the first time as tragedy and the second time as farce, only to add that, that is ?nowhere more applicable than in Pakistan? where the army?s image has plummeted and the country itself has slipped further into anarchy than it had in 1999. The paper noted that the Emergency order made it quite clear that apart from invoking the usual terrorist threat, the judiciary was a principal target. What is interesting is that no daily has put the blame on the United States which, really, started it all in its effort to drive Soviet influence out of Afghanistan.

The General has now been revealed in his true colours as a ruthless military dictator in the mould of Zia-ul-Haq.

Ramesh Thakur, a distinguished Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation and Professor of Political Science at the Canadian University of Waterloo, in The Hindu has hit the nail right on its head by noting that Pakistan is ? an artificial creation carved out of British India with brute surgery using machetes rather than a scalpel? and that ?Saudi financing and American arms and training built up a battle-hardened jihadist army?.

According to Thakur, Musharraf ? is not the solution but part of the problem, with a track record to prove it ?. Thakur bravely adds: ? He has to go.? The Indian Express (November 5) commenting on the Emergency wrote what has been in the minds of everybody. As it put it in plain terms: ?What else can be expected when a dictator considers himself to be above the law?? The paper dismissed Musharraf?s excuse for ordering Emergency to a rise in extremism. ?It is unclear? said the paper, ?how this phenomenon will come down in the near future considering that Musharraf is filling Pakistan?s jails with everyone but Islamic extremists and radicals?.

Strangely, again, the paper had nothing to say about America?s own role in supporting jihadists . How can one explain that? At least one paper, The Hitavada had the courage to say that it was Pakistan which joined forces with the United States to prop up mujahideens who fought the Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

However, it noted that ? history has repeatedly shown that when you create monsters, sooner of later they turn upon you?. Very aptly the paper referred to the Emergency experiment that Indira Gandhi conducted and which cost her life, though it added that ?India has learnt? its lesson.

US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is supposedly giving some thought to cutting economic aid to Pakistan. It is a big joke. The US, as the Free Press Journal rightly pointed out, is fully aware of the situation in Pakistan. It is not for nothing, said the paper, that President Bush recently characterised the North West Frontier Province as ?wilder than the wild West?. Only recently The New York Times reported that large areas within the Province were being used as a training camp for al Qaeda elements ?showing either the helplessness of the Pakistan army or its complicity?.

It is not a matter of either/or. The truth is that the Pakistan Army itself has become a terrorist army with a terrorist General leading it. To forget that is to duck truth. What should India do, in the circumstances? To quote The Free Press Journal: ?In such circumstances India cannot remain oblivious to the goings on in its neighbourhood. It must engage in constant dialogue with the US since the Americans too are greatly exercised over the nuclear threat?There are ominous signs that amid the turmoil in Pakistan, Kashmiri refugees are approaching Indian authorities in Islamabad for passage into India. This could indeed pose a major security threat. Any lowering of guard and any softening of Indian stand at this stage could lead to disastrous consequences.? That is sound and pertinent warning.

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