Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara corridor has evoked mixed reactions. While Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu accepted Imran Khan’s invite and had praised Imran Khan profusely, Minister Sushma Swaraj couldn’t go and Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had declined the invitation.
Amidst all this, the Indian journalists who were invited to Pakistan were visibly quite happy as they couldn’t stop singing praises about the hospitality they received in the otherwise not-so-friendly neighbour while doubling up as messengers of peace themselves. We had earlier reported the list of “approved” journalists who travelled to Pakistan after being vetted by the Pakistan High Commission. It was interesting to note that several media organisations like Republic, Times Now or even ANI did not make it to the list.
My ‘friends’ on twitter would call it ‘Ghar Wapsi’; for me a chance to meet old friends and observe Pakistan! ??? pic.twitter.com/QQmsvYRX2k
— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) November 27, 2018
Sardesai was delighted to meet his ‘old friends’ and expressed sadness that Indian media houses spread more hate towards Pakistan than Pakistan does that for India.
I will say this my young friend, and I say it with sadness: Pakistan news channels sometimes spread less hate towards India than we do towards Pakistan.. we all need to rise above competing hatreds. Nafrat phailana bahut aasan hai Pyaar baatna bahut mushkil. https://t.co/NsJHb21Vag
— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) November 29, 2018
Also why Rajdeep Sardesai’s ‘popularity “transcends borders”, an observation made by Arfa Khanum Sherwani, a journalist with The Wire, headed by US passport holder Siddharth Varadarajan who is also in the Pakistan High Commission “approved” list of journalists travelling to Pakistan to cover the inauguration.
The reason why @sardesairajdeep my former editor is also my favourite journalist. There are few who have the courage to say unpopular things publicly. Rajdeep’s popularity clearly transcends borders. https://t.co/lHsCRrwF83
— Arfa Khanum Sherwani (@khanumarfa) November 29, 2018
India has maintained that it will not participate in SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) summit, which is scheduled to be held in Islamabad this year until Pakistan ends terror. However, Pakistan believes that India may turn down the invite because of upcoming elections.
When I asked Pak minister @fawadchaudhry that India likely to turn down saarc invitation like they have done, he said we understand elections are on
— sunetra choudhury (@sunetrac) November 28, 2018
We are not sure whether NDTV’s political editor, Sunetra, clarified India’s stand to Pakistan Minister. She was, however, quite thrilled at visiting Pakistan.
The Wire journalist, too, cited Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister that the engagement with India (at SAARC) may be delayed due to elections, which he understands are important.
We will wait. As a politician, we do understand that elections are important: Pakistan foreign minister @SMQureshiPTI on engagment with India.
— Devirupa Mitra (@DevirupaM) November 28, 2018
Again, we are not sure whether Mitra and her colleagues pointed out the fact that India had declined to attend the SAARC summit in November 2016 as well and has suspended bilateral dialogues with Pakistan after the Uri attacks. That earlier this year, MEA Sushma Swaraj had walked out early of an informal meeting of SAARC nations at the sidelines of the UN general assembly. Swaraj had stated in her short statement that the ecosystem of terrorism can only be dismantled with solid action on the ground.
And then there were the ones spreading the message of peace.
Hard nosed cynics and Journalists can keep debating India and Pakistan and #KartarpurCorridor but some are unabashedly sentimental. Interviewed Chanchal Manohar Singh & Riaz Ahmad , Indian and Pakistani and friends for ten years. All smiles. All optimism. Video coming next ! pic.twitter.com/txHDtmByLS
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) November 27, 2018
Several questions are now being raised about the list of “approved” journalists and the zeal with which they have been participating in peddling the ‘aman ki asha’ line of argument while in Pakistan. How were these journalists “selected”? Was there a provision to apply? If there was, why were journalists from several other agencies like Republic, Times Now, Zee News or even ANI not on the list? Was there some selectivity on Pakistan’s side while selecting journalists? Did the ones who are more likely to be sympathetic towards Pakistan’s line of argument chosen?
These are questions which have not been answered yet. However, while Pakistan regularly sends gun-wielding terrorists to India with the sole aim of bleeding India with a thousand cuts, the jubilation displayed by these journalists do make citizens uncomfortable.