In a debate on NDTV on the topic of Indo-Pak NSA level talks, BJP spokesperson Sambit Swaraj mentioned that everybody else on the panel (Nidhi Razdan, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Shekhar Gupta and former diplomat KC Singh) is speaking a language which matches that of Pakistan. Razdan immediately took strong objection to this and repeatedly tried to make him apologise for his statement. But was there any truth to his observation?
For this we need to roll-back a bit:
On July 10 2015 where the Prime Ministers of Pakistan and India met on the sidelines of the SCO Summit in Ufa, the foreign secretaries of both the countries, jointly issued a statement. The very first point in this joint statement was:
A meeting in New Delhi between the two NSAs to discuss all issues connected to terrorism.
Further, there was no mention of Kashmir in the entire statement and this seemed to signal a diplomatic win for both the countries to start the process to end terrorism in the sub-continent.
But Pakistan went back on its words. On July 13 2015, Pakistan’s NSA Sartaj Aziz made a statement:
No dialogue will take place unless Kashmir is on agenda
This was a massive U-Turn from the joint statement which agreed to talk on Terrorism without raking any other issue.
It appeared that Pakistan was trying its best to wriggle out of this talk on terror since it would be exposed, and its further steps made it amply clear:
1. Unprovoked firing at LoC – Till August 16, 6 people were killed by Pakistani firing, including 5 civilians and at least 20 others were injured.
2. Not extending invitation to J & K speaker – Pakistan, the host of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, did not invite J & K speaker, while inviting all others.
4. Invitation to Hurriyat before NSA talks – Knowing that the last time Pakistan spoke to Hurriyat before talks (in defiance of India’s warning), India cancelled the talks, Pakistan tried this trick yet again.
But this time, India decided to act differently. In spite of all these provocations, India held that NSA talks should go on, but, on the terms & conditions and on the agenda i.e. Terrorism that were agreed on. Maybe India did not want to look like the one cancelled the talks and wanted Pakistan to blink first.
In reply to this, Pakistan’s NSA Sartaj Aziz held a press conference trying to deflect blame of cancellation of talks (if any) to India and standing by Pakistan’s U-Turn of talking about Kashmir. India too wasted no time and replied back in the same manner, via a press conference by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj where she clearly set the ground rules that for the talks to take place, Pakistan must give an assurance that talks will be only on Terror, and that they will not meet the Hurriyat.
And finally Pakistan blinked! Pakistan cancelled the NSA talks in spite of their best efforts to get India to cancel it. In an attempt to save face, Pakistan gave the reason that India had unilaterally decided the terms of engagement, specifically the two conditions regarding Kashmir and Hurriyat. Fact is, at Ufa, it was joint statement which agreed to talk only on terrorism and not on Kashmir, and the side-lining of Hurriyat was in line with the Simla Agreement, which stated all issues must be resolved bilaterally, without third-parties.
In all this, it would be plain and simple that India has taken the tough route with Pakistan and should have been applauded for the same but some in Indian MSM were thinking otherwise. The NDTV debate in which Patra was present, presented the view that for some reason India is confused. Fact is India has been constantly forcing Pakistan into a corner. Even PM Modi’s speech in UAE was littered with direct as well as indirect digs at Pakistan. He made it seem Pakistan would be isolated by India if it continued to sponsor terror.
Indian MSM also did more than its fair share of abject misreporting in this entire episode. Because the J & K speaker was not invited to conference in Pakistan, India threatened to boycott the conference. Eventually the conference was cancelled. On this, most media outlets carried a story which tried to claim Pakistan has cancelled the conference and was “hardening its stance”. This was based on a report filed by a Pakistani reporter for Reuters, based on statements of Pakistani officials! Why were Indian MSM outlets toying Pakistan’s line?
And as it turns out, Pakistan did not cancel the conference. The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) issued a statement that the Executive Committee cancelled the meet because Pakistan did not invite the J & K speaker! This was another victory for India’s stand. And another gaffe for Indian MSM.
Even when India issued its tough statement to Pakistan, PTI rose to the occasion and misreported it saying India had cancelled NSA level talks. This confusion, added to the spectre of “confusion” already invented by MSM.
And then we had “journalists” tweeting utter nonsense. While Sagarika Ghose and Rajdeep Sardesai called the entire process a “public tamasha“, a “farce” and a “kabaddi match“, the most hilarious comments were from Rana Ayyub. In a forced attempt at creating some sort of equivalence, she tweeted this, only to be trolled for her stupidity, which made her delete her tweet.
Rana Ayyub further went on to ask whether “Sushma Swaraj can be allowed to lead the front on Pakistan”! Maybe Rana Ayyub needs to be reminded that Sushma Swaraj is the External Affairs Minister, and Indian MSM needs to be reminded that they should stop becoming India haters in their pursuit of being Modi haters.