The unmistakable similarities between the two hostile neighbouring countries in the subcontinent are as numerous as the disparities separating them. These similarities are also reflected in the manifold tragedies that are common to the two countries. An idea of just one of these tragedies may be had from the realisation that whereas a below average, imbecile and a thoroughly corrupt politician has happened to be the prime minister of the country next door for as many as three terms, his counterpart closer home who has pushed his country to the precipice of total disaster is staring at the prospect of repeating his return to power for a third consecutive term! On that count at least, that’s a typical case of twins separated at birth?
However, a glaring exception to the similarities may be witnessed in the fact that these similarities do not quite extend to the coverage of events by the media in the rwo countries. Over the past few years especially since 2014, a strange spectacle pertaining to the media coverage of events in the two countries has been in witness where the news channels have been airing views, comments and talk shows from their channels that provide a total contrast with regard to real issues on the ground. If anything, whereas the prime time coverage in the Indian media is mostly Pakistan specific, that’s hardly the case in respect of the media coverage across the border. On the other hand, it’s also true that the dominant view in public on either side of the border is to wish the present dispensations to continue in their respective countries. However, the similarities of their standpoints end right there. Come to think of it, the Indian media voicing the dominant view of the political establishment is to see an end to the present regime in Pakistan. However, the corresponding view of the media and the government across the border is to wish a long life to the current political dispensation in India! And that is not without reason.
That is so because the thinking in the Indian establishment is that the present government in Pakistan with Imran Khan in the saddle – despite his own share of fatal flaws – has it in it to steer that country out of the morass that it has been plunged into by the successive governments in Pakistan, especially those headed by the MPL(N) and the PPP. That, in its perception, would pave the way for a strong, stable and successful Pakistan, something they would obviously not wish to happen. On the contrary, the dominant view in Pakistan is that the continuance of the present BJP-led government in India would bring cheers to that country as that would accelerate the diminution of the stature that India would boast of, not long ago, on a variety of metrics that included its once promising economic prowess, progress in science and technology, military might, mutual co-existence of its people and not the least, its plurality of cultures.
In fact it’s this lack of stomach for a plural culture that the Kashmir valley has been turned into a nightmare, a living hell as a result of a long chain of ill-conceived initiatives and legislations by the present government that have led to complete disempowerment and immiseration of the people of Kashmir. The fact that the government places exclusive focus and invests ints resources entirely on the media coverage of their antics being passed off as people friendly initiatives – which they surely are not- has since ceased to impress the masses who now have seen through the deceit and strategem underpinning these antics. Here it should help to recall a recent joke enacted on the Indians when the UP-CM Yogi had gone to offer his obeisance to the gods in a temple but instead of facing the ‘murti’ right in front of him was seen to turn around in the opposite direction to face the camera in a ludicrous effort, not to propitiate the gods but to befool and misguide the bhakts.
The question that stares us in the face puts us all in a hopeless quandary: should the Indians root for the present government to continue beyond 2024 as “true nationalists”, and by default, as it were, bring glad tidings to their bete’noire across the border? Or should they wish to see them pack their bags in 2024 to stop their enemy in their tracks? That’s a question that the indians would do well to ponder in order to hammer home a more informed perspective of their reassessment of the political philosophy espoused by those who are ruling the roost in India at the moment. It’s time to take a call on that right now.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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