Pakistsan/India- Stunned by the Mumbai terror attacks and dismayed by the strain it has put on India-Pakistan ties, many Pakistanis are blaming the media of the two countries for vitiating ties through “irresponsible” reporting.
“I have been monitoring TV channels and newspapers of both countries and am shocked that they are insisting that their leaders issue harsh statements against each other,” said Ambreen Hussain, a political science student at Iqra University.
Most anchors of the Indian channels are busy blaming Pakistan for the attacks, while Pakistani anchors are busy refuting these charges and trying to prove that the attacks were done by terrorists groups within India.
Misbah Fasih, who works with an international NGO, said: “I believe the media in India and Pakistan are free but highly irresponsible… it seems that either they are not trained to cover events of such sensitive nature or they are trained to excel in accusing others.”
Indian authorities have blamed “elements in Pakistan” for the Mumbai terror strikes. However, Islamabad has denied playing any role in the tragedy and offered to help New Delhi probe the attack.
Some Pakistani media reports have suggested that the attacks were orchestrated by Indians for political gain.
Giving examples of the “dirty role” played by the Indian and Pakistani media in souring relations, Fasih said the anchor of a private Indian news channel repeatedly said that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was directly involved in the attacks.
Similarly, a Pakistani private television suggested that India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) had masterminded the attacks for the benefit of the ruling Congress party, which was losing popularity and is likely to lose the polls scheduled for early next year.
“I don’t know if this campaign is sponsored by the respective governments or the journalists themselves are trying to prove their loyalty to the country… this is no nationalism but unprofessionalism,” said Fasih.
Meanwhile, Pakistani politicians have agreed to come together to tackle the diplomatic crisis arising out of Mumbai terror attacks even tribal leaders in the restive North West Frontier Province (NWFP) urged the government to remove troops from their region and focus on securing the border with India.
All the parties, including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), Jama’at Islami (JI) and the coalition partners attended the National Security Conference.
President Asif Ali Zardari had also spoken to several world leaders, including Afghan President Hamid Karzai, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and discussed the situation.