The visit by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to India was the highlight for Modi’s political beginning. Like any aware citizen, I have been flipping through newspapers to read about the outcomes of the visit. Not only was the visit stared at and observed by international actors, but even the media played an important role. A transparent and unbiased media is definitely strength for any state. Nonetheless, the role of the Indian media in covering the visit has been dismal. The India media has quite understandably been acting over-enthusiastic about Modi’s victory what with the claims that Nostradamus predicted his rise 450 years ago. As if that wasn’t enough, the convenient cover up by India media about the differences in the SWAT analysis of Sharif’s meeting with Modi is worth noting.
Even before Sharif accepted Modi’s invitation, there were speculations being made about what his response would be and its translation into the realm of internal affairs. Very few analyses were optimistic and most of them were superficial. Post-visit, it is intriguing that there have been several suggestions thrown to point at a specific, optimum strategy that would be beneficial for improvements in the atmospherics between the two countries. In the midst of all this, one comes across reports that make contrary claims. A change in policy or circumstances is always a possibility but the statements are so personified they seem to emanate absoluteness. So much so that sometimes it is difficult to understand what the reality is.
An instance that I would like to take into account are two reports published by an Indian newspaper Times of India over a gap of 5 days. Post-Sharif visit, the Indian newspapers were full of headlines saying “Sharif was not too happy”. There was an article that claimed that the Pakistani daily Dawn had claimed that Sharif felt belittled in India. These headlines in no way seemed optimistic. They portrayed the visit as disappointing and unsuccessful to the public. These make people believe that the effort was a waste and people wonder about the possibility of better times if such a huge gesture failed (there can obviously be discussions about the motives behind the gesture). It is then amusing to find up another article with the headline saying that Sharif was “much satisfied with meeting.” This article blamed the Pakistani media for believing that the visit wasn’t good enough. It goes on to say how Sharif went against the stride of the Pakistani media and affirmed his satisfaction with the visit. There was an undertone of blame thrown at the Pakistani media.
The media in both India and Pakistan has been vocal about its views. Understandably, there have been mixed reactions about the visit that was seen as the pathway for the future of relations between the two states. There has been dissatisfaction regarding the issues addressed during the meeting. But what strikes me is the inherent tendency to put the blame on the ‘other’ in such trivial issues too. The Indian state is going through a transitional phase at the moment. The entire international community is waiting for what lies ahead. The problem isn’t a change in the opinion but the convenient excuse being the Pakistani media. When will the media grow up and take responsibility of what it predicts, professes and says? When will it actually act as a responsible channel to cater to the people in the way it should towards a better scenario rather than leading to confusion?
Image: Pradeep Gaur-Mint, Getty