Post the recent Uri attack in J&K and the Indian Army’s action thereafter; there has been a steep escalation of war-like hysteria between India and Pakistan. This escalation is not only limited to ground zero but is palpable in the media coverage in both the countries and has resulted in a full scale media war that is being witnessed on both sides of the border.
Pakistan media’s war games
Pakistan media launched a full scale media war post the announcement made by the Indian Army about the surgical strikes, it has now been reporting that the surgical strikes were never conducted in the first place, a clear attempt to negate India’s claims. Well known Pakistani author and journalist Zahid Hussain in one of his recent columns published in Pakistan’s leading daily Dawn made a reference to it and underplayed the surgical strike claims by the Indian government. He wrote, “It is not important whether technically speaking it was a surgical strike or just an incursion. The real issue is that the Modi government has set a new and dangerous precedent signalling its willingness to go to the extreme in the event of any militant strike on its soil in the future. It is what is described as Modi’s doctrine of aggressive diplomacy.”
Another Pakistan Daily The Express Tribune in one of its reports published on 6th October stated, “Very credible sources confirm that the Indian army is filming videos in the Nowgam and Leepa sectors, adjacent to the border, to show as if it is carrying out covert operations in enemy territory.”
Even Pakistan’s popular English weekly-The Friday Times painted a different picture of the operation that was carried by the Indian armed forces in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. In its recent issue dated 29th September, popular weekly The Friday Times reported, “The war hysteria, revolving around surgical strikes and what not, gave more oxygen to the cyclical acrimony that has gained currency under Modi in the shape of an anti-Pakistan chorus that has only grown in the last two years. At this particular point in time, it also felt like a ploy to deflect attention from Indian oppression in Kashmir.”
Looking at the Pakistani media coverage, it is apparent that its political and military establishment is making all attempts to paint a different picture of what we hear and believe in India. Recently, Pakistan even invited a group of international journalists in its attempt to counter the Indian media offensive. Its electronic media coverage is no different with channels making the most of Indo-Pak crisis to boost TRP’s. With some Indian politicians seeking proof of the surgical strikes, the Pakistan media has got a good reason to continue its India bashing coverage.
Commenting on the coverage by the Pakistani media and the full scale media blitzkrieg that it has launched to counter Indian claims, Sudhir Chaudhary, Editor Zee News says that it is far removed from reality and scripted by the army generals in Pakistan. He said, “The journalism in Pakistan is low on facts and high on propaganda. The Pakistan establishment has been conducting guided tours for foreign media, which in reality is nothing but a part of its propaganda against India. The reportage of post Uri events by the Pakistani media clearly point out to its agenda of deflecting from the facts since it’s controlled and directed by its army. Moreover, the irresponsible comments made by some of our politicians have been used by Pakistan media to paint a different picture ,but one can see through the falsehood of such statements and the politics behind them.”
How the Indian media reported the Indo-Pak flare up
The Indian media has spent considerable time and space as far as the post Uri coverage is considered. Some of the leading English and Hindi channels have devoted a chunk of their primetime reporting to the ongoing Indo-Pak flare up, and even the print media has been generously allotting space to the issue that has pushed the two countries on the brink of a war like situation.
Indian media is making all efforts to counter the Pakistan’s claims that no surgical operations took place. In a recent article by noted Indian Foreign and Security policy expert Shashank Joshi, which was published in The Hindu, he argues, “There are reasons to be even more sceptical of Pakistan’s insistence that nothing, beyond routine shellfire, occurred overnight on September 28. Pakistan’s case appears to be that the LoC is impermeable, but we know this to be nonsense from the history of tactical raids in both directions. Pakistan itself has acknowledged some of these in its complaints to the United Nations, and Indian officials have tacitly owned up. “
While explaining the rationale behind Pakistan’s latest media campaign against India, Lieutenant-General Prakash Katoch in his column which was published in Firstpost stated, “Pakistan has mounted a massive campaign of disinformation against the surgical strikes in PoK by India on 28 September — to attempt to portray that these strikes never occurred. This was logically response with Raheel Sharif, the Pakistani army chief — who is due to retire shortly — made to look silly with all the chest-thumping about the Pakistani Army being on full alert for 10 days since the attack on the Indian Army's Uri post.”
Varun Kohli, CEO India News believes that Indian media is taking a responsible line as far as its coverage of post Uri events is concerned. He said, “I would say that the Indian reportage has been responsible and driven by facts and reflected the sentiments of the common citizen. Unfortunately same cannot be said about the Pakistan press because they have been following a set script which is often directed from their bosses in the army. If you compare the media coverage post the Uri attack, there is a visible element of Jingoism in the Pakistan coverage which also reflects their insecurity.”
While the war on ground zero is witnessing a new twist daily, the ongoing media war is definitely following suit.