Expulsion Of Indian Journalists: A Retrograde Step By Pakistan
by Ravi Nitesh
There is so much diversity all around us. It includes culture, history, and geography as static diversities and political situations and other continuous changing practices as dynamic diversities for which one individual or community becomes different than another at any point of time. For the already recorded or static diversities that developed over a longer period of time, we know about each other through various available mediums, however for moving diversities and changes of present time, that may also include present short term socio-political changes and often be seen as news, is usually communicated through media. This media includes Newspapers, News webportals, TV channels etc and involves journalists to provide the information as it is, in view of enriching the universal information system as well as other for other objectives.
With the Media persons exchange initiatives between India and Pakistan, an agreement was made that allowed for two journalists to be stationed in each other’s national capital. With this agreenment, these countries found another powerful objective of media in developing ties and regarded it to be one of the important tools of diplomacy. So under the initiative, wherein both countries can nominate their journalists to station in each other’s national capital, India initiated and deputed two journalists – Meena Menon (The Hindu) and Snehesh Alex (PTI) at Islamabad.
Both Meena Menon and Snehesh were working fine and were continuously sending the voice, facts and opinions of Pakistan to India. Unfortunately, on other side, no journalists were deputed by Pakistan at New Delhi. Earlier journalists were deputed at New Delhi, but later they returned on their own due to high expenditure. The last journalist who was deputed at New Delhi was Javed Jadoon of Radio Pakistan who returned to Pakistan in 2011.
While it may be a wise step by wise persons working in the Pakistani interest, in my opinion, it was a back step of not deputing any of journalists in India.
In view of the people’s desire on one side and continuous confrontation on various other issues at the other side, this step to depute journalists could serve as wise and well diplomatic step to foster ties and understanding each other in a better way. Recent expulsion through not extending visa of two Indian journalists, is now another back step by Pakistan. The reasons are still unknown. If we look at the news reports on other debated issues these days, a probable reason seems to be that the Pakistan Government, particularly (may be) a special section within Govt or its functionaries, see it harmful for Pakistan’s interest. If it is really the reason, I consider it to be unfortunate. It is because, as far as news reports are concerned, it must be seen that such news reports only pave a smooth way of flow and share of information. Also, as the virtual media is becoming stronger, no news remain in the veil. However, it should also be understood that these journalists would not only cover political news, but also brought other aspects of life and culture, of people and places.
With the long sustained hatred, that is obviously doubled with diplomatic failures and individual country-centric political scenario, we all know that how with any act of terror in India, people start probing on Pakistan. It should not be seen as problematic, as it is not actual the fault of these people directly, instead it is very much based on historial lack of mutual trust and peace building, a major part of which, was required to be covered by bilateral talks and ties. Now, if Pakistan has really started viewing the two Indian journalists as a problem for their country, I think it can be regarded as a short-sighted view. why are the decision makers not looking at these other aspects? It is crucial that news about Pakistan should be reported from there.
Also, in view of the change in government in India, that is led by a nationalist party and whose leaders had objectionable remarks about Pakistan, such steps will only gave strength to their argument and thoughts and will weaken the voices who are working to remove the stereotype. Also, at a time, when there are many complicated things going on within the Pakistan controlled areas, such decisions will only worsen the image of the country. I remember the speech of the newly appointed high commissioner of Pakistan in India, at the time of Pakistan Day reception in the high commission premises just few months ago, where he emphasised about the Indo-Pak joint initiatives to build mutual trust in all sectors, I found the speech very progressive in terms of ground working, however this decision of expelling the journalists is probably unmatched with that determination.
But I would also like to mention that this move being seen as anti-Indian is also incorrect. It must be mentioned that this expulsion of journalists by Pakistan is not confined to India. Prior to this recent case of non extension of visa validity of India journalists, Pakistan had done the same with a New York times journalist in the past. Therefore, it must not be seen as Indian centric decision of Pakistan, rather it should be seen as general professional decision by Pakistani authorities. In this view, it would be better to bat for deputation of journalists in each other countries, but their expulsion must not be seen as any special decision for that country.
It also should be viewed that this event must not be advertised as too unfortunate, as it had happened in past as well with Anita Joshua (The Hindu) and Rezaul Laskar (PTI) when their visas were not extended last year. Even after not granting visa extension to them, Pakistan again allowed fresh journalists from India. If the case is all about the non desirous Pakistan to participate in free flow of information, it would not have again allowed journalists. Also, there is a need to identify the thin line of difference between ‘non extension of visa’ of journalists and ‘expulsion’ of journalists.
It must not be seen as anti-Indian. But yes, I do hope that Pakistan reverts this decision. The present situation of practicing free media is very much required in all countries and Pakistan must not be an exception. It also must be understood that expulsion of the journalists is not going to help in improving any situation, instead it will pull the legs of people’s initiative towards fostering peace and trust and towards stronger P2P (People to People) connect. I see that still there is an ample scope to take back the decision and to invite the journalists with a fresh invitation, however this time, it can be made better by mutual exchanges and we will be happy to have few journos at New Delhi as well.
This article was published at Countercurrents
Ravi Nitesh is the founder of Mission Bhartiyam (India) and core member of Aaghaz-e-Dosti.