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The perils of India trying to look good on PTV

Last updated on: July 16, 2012 11:58 IST

The perils of India trying to look good on PTV

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In its campaign against India, Pakistan has used terror and its electronic media to great effect proving how useful a psywar campaign is in these adversarial situations. This will not change and let us not be under any delusion about this, writes Vikram Sood

The report that India was favourably considering lifting a ban on the airing of Pakistan Television and private channels, one sincerely hopes, is not true for a number of reasons.

If true, this shows our propensity to want to look good, reasonable and large hearted in our dealings with Pakistan as the main plank of our policy towards that country.

It also shows that we have not thought this through nor worked out the implications about how to deal with a country that has not called off its terror war against India. 

A country that has for decades carried out the kind of terror and media campaign against India and has been singularly reluctant to co-operate on issues like Mumbai 2008 is hardly, unlikely to give up this option against us.

Free exchange of media and easy transmission of channels is a laudable objective provided there is reasonable exchange of ideas including political ideas, culture, arts and entertainment and provided the debates are reasonable and measured.

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This is not what Pakistan will feed the Indian audience because has given little reason to show responsibility especially on issues concerning India.

As it is, Pakistan TV channels show blood curdling speeches of hatred and revenge from luminaries like Jamaat ud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, Samiul Haq and those others who represent the multi-group Difah-e-Pakistan Committee.

Some Pakistan TV channels also have individuals like Zaid Hamid, who diligently campaign on TV against India, Israel and the US (read Hindus, Jews and Christians). In Zaid Hamid's mind, there is a crush India brigade. 

Synchronising with the Pak-India Social Media Mela being held in Karachi, a website called Pakistan Ka Khuda Hafiz carried two reports; one called Pak-India Social Media Mela Decorated in the Carcass of the Youm-e-Shuhhada (on July 13) and the other one was Kashmir: Hell in Paradise (July 14).

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Image: The PTV newsroom


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Here is an extract of what PKKH said: 'The nation must decide, as we are already surrounded by war and terror from all sides and the veins of our water are being cut by Indian dams and the blood of our economy is being readied for transfusion under the MFN-status granting (sic); are we also ready to let our enemy play the 4th generation warfare with us, from within us, in a most fashionable way.' 

Patriotism is increasingly measured by hatred for the "other" now, in these groups and they wish to spread their creed. It is tempting to dismiss this as the ranting of a miniscule minority. This is the mistake we make in assessing how things have begun evolve in Pakistan in the future despite a few reasonable men and women. 

Imagine now if these vituperative and hate filled items were to figure on Pak TV.  They figure on social network sites like Twitter, so why not on TV?

Individuals like Zaid Hamid and organisations like PKKH routinely ridicule other institutions like SAFMA and the movements like Aman ki Asha and they are getting support for their anti-Indian or anti-peace campaign.

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Image: Logo of the website called Pakistan Ka Khuda Hafiz

Tags: PKKH , SAFMA , PTV , Zaid Hamid

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The perils of India trying to look good on PTV

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A campaign sustained over a period of time and seen in Indian households and elsewhere with its anti-India slant is bound to inflame passions across India's multi-religious society with grave repercussions on societal harmony. 

It was Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna who had told the Associated Press on June 13, 2012, that Hafiz Saeed, the man behind the Mumbai attacks, continued his "hate India campaign", adding that India had to tune into Pakistan TV to see the Lashkar-e-Tayiba leader remains free.

It is never easy to see the black and white flags of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba fluttering on Indian TV screens, as they demand jihad against infidel India.

This is in normal times. Now imagine if there is another Mumbai 2008 type attack and there us reasonable certainty here that it will happen. It is not difficult to imagine how some channels in Pakistan will react to this and the reactions this would bring across India.

As it is, the gradually changing attitude toward show Mumbai 2008 is to be handled is gradually changing from obduracy to denial.

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Image: Indian foreign minister SM Krishna with his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani


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Psywar should be seen an essential part of our campaign, internally and externally. It is particularly relevant for country like ours with its various security and developmental problems and our perceived role in global affairs. Perceptions are as important as awareness. 

Only we can ensure our voice is heard. No private agency will be able to create this and sustain this abroad without government assistance and policy direction. Yet the government itself cannot do this on its own; it will be just too bureaucratic and ham handed thereby losing its credibility at the start. 

It has to be on the pattern of the BBC Overseas Service and CNN TV. There is governmental financial support, policy guidelines for overseas use but editorial freedom as a result criticism and exposes are accepted risk. Psywar only gives intangible but important results that need to be synchronised with policy and national aims. 

In its campaign against India, Pakistan has used terror and its electronic media to great effect proving how useful a psywar campaign is in these adversarial situations. This will not change and let us not be under any delusion about this. 

What we are now agreeing to is that Pakistan be allowed to carry on its campaign in India, while we shut off our psywar campaign, as a measure of good faith. 

We need to change all this and ensure we do not succumb to the temptation of wanting to look good.

Vikram Sood is former chief of the Reseach and Analysis Wing and an expert on terrorism

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Source: ANI