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July 19, 1999
Pak media lament lost opportunity
Pakistani journalists envy the performance of the Indian media during the Kargil crisis while regretting that their own media failed because of the government's policy to keep it in the dark.
At a seminar in Karachi on ''Media in crisis: international and cross-border dimensions'' participating journalists said the press as a whole remained ignorant because the information ministry and other concerned agencies either misled them or refused to guide them at all.
On the other hand, they said, India had realised the significance of using the media to project the crisis in such a way that the world public opinion went in favour of India. The Indian government had taken the media and the people into confidence.
But in Pakistan, they said, the Sharief government had totally failed to anticipate the media requirements in such a situation. Suffering from the hangover of military rule, civilian governments continued to gag the press.
It is significant to note that the preparations for the invasion of Kargil late last year coincided with a crackdown on the press and the arrest and humiliation of journalists by the Sharief government. The press was totally confused about the government's objectives.
While the government claimed that its army was not involved in the infiltration of Kargil, the press wrote proudly that Pakistani troops had captured Indian posts in Kargil. Similarly, while the Pakistan government was telling the world that the militants involved were Kashmiris, the press was carrying interviews with militant leaders who boasted that the intruders comprised men ''from Morocco to Indonesia.''
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