Q. Why does India pose as
a world power when it is not, and why does it say that it will sign the NPT only when
America does away with its nuclear weapons? (2) [Addressed to Mr. Raju] Is it not a better
option to think about a unified, independent Kashmir? (3) [Addressed to Mr. Khaled Ahmed]
What, in your opinion, is the way to reducing the influence of religion in the political
processes of Pakistan?
Commander (Rtd.) Farooqui
How can we make better use of media for building bridges between the two countries? (2)
[Commenting on Mr. Khaleds observations] One reason why the PTV and the Door Darshan
fail to reach the audience in the other country is language: the language of the PTV news
is too much Arabicised and the language of the Door Darshan news too much Sanskriticised.
(3) Why cannot we have separate pages in the newspapers of India and Pakistan to cover the
other country? (4) Why doesnt the media carry out public opinion surveys and push it
to the policy makers as an instrument for pointing out to them what the people really
want? (5) Both in India and Pakistan there is a mass of people which only reads the
vernacular press, so if you leave the Urdu press in Pakistan and the regional press in
India out of this discourse, the job is not even half-done.
Dr. Navnita Chadha Behera
What should be the role of the Ministry of
Information in India and Pakistan, now  that both the countries are eminently
Mr. Basheer Khan
Mr. Chengappa: Combining
the [Wing Commander Farooquis] question about Indias aspirations for becoming
a world power and Navnitas reference to media survey of public opinion, I would like
to say that as someone working in the newspaper that carried such a survey, we found that
75% of the people, surprisingly, said that they wanted India to keep its option of nuclear
bomb open even though some of them said that if America agrees to do the same, and
if Pakistan also agrees, then we should also go. Apart from the survey, we also took our
own stand in a number of articles pointing out the inconsistency in Indias own
policy on the subject. I think it is the role of the press to take a stand. After that, it
is the people or the people in power who will decide whether the stand was right or wrong.
Mr. Khaled Ahmed: I
dont think the news in the free channels of India are free, especially in the realm
of foreign policy. Their coverage on Kashmir began all right and then declined into a
partisan coverage. I dont think it will correct itself unless these channels are
able to earn something from Pakistan. I have said it many times, and I will say it again,
that freedom in the media and in the press is connected with market. Unfortunately
payments [from India and Pakistan and vice versa] take a very long time. Someone who is
idealistic will have to take into account the function of the free market; how will the
market overcome this? [As regards the state controlled media] I think the problem with
Arabic and Sanskrit is there but there is so much else that is understood but it is
totally counter-productive: it is a proxy war and no communication, because communication
means that you get to the other side and persuade the other side. A very horrendous
observation is that down to the level of tehsil there are Indian films on cassettes.
[Given the fact that] we are the biggest ethnic cleansers [as shown by what happened on
both sides of the border in 1947] these films have not changed our attitudes and made us
friends. The only result can be that the next time we will rape more Indian women, and the
other way round.
Q. Media reflects the social
attitudes of the people. If our media is interested in disaster stories then there is a
certain section of our society that it is catering to. How are we going to change the
media in this context of social attitudes?
Q. We need to
redefine the word responsibility to reach a middle ground so that it would not be taken as
propaganda either by the liberal or the conservative side of the society, because both
sides are part of the civil society both sides, I think, shy away from the views of
the other side.
the 1960s, when there was a complete black-out about India in the Pakistani media, I
think the much-despised Indian films have done some job of breaking ice, and now the
satellite channels are also going some way towards that.
Q. The question is whether
the media is going to take the leadership role or is it going to depend entirely on public
opinion for its support?
Mr. Karamat Ali: I dont see
the media in India or Pakistan providing you the space. You have to fight for it. When we
speak of civil society it is a very vague concept. People are divided into classes and
groups. The media has to look at them and acknowledge their struggle. In 1982 there was a
struggle going on in a factory whose owner was an advisor to Gen. Zia-ul-Haque but had not
cleared the dues of the workers for months. As the Eid was approaching, we decided to give
a paid advertisement in Daily Jang. The newspaper took the money but the
advertisement did not appear. When we called them, they said they cannot print the
advertisement and returned our money. We went to two more newspapers and they did the
same. Only the editor of the third newspaper, Amn, gave us the reason. He said;
"We get three half-page advertisements from this firm every week. If you could get me
one, I will print this." Of course we could not.
We have to focus: which sections of the civil societies in India
and Pakistan have common goals. Only those classes in both the societies who are at
present the victims of this violence are the ones who have a stake in a lasting peace and
stable relations. For instance the new agenda of the free market wants a working class
whose hands are tied and who have no rights, as this imperative under the new World Trade
Organisation. Therefore we have to look for real basis for creating and re-structuring the
[Regarding the survey conducted in India] how did you get this
70% response to the option of an atomic explosion? What did the people, who said yes,
really know about an atomic explosion? Did you show them pictures of Hiroshema? I am sure
if you had told them what will happen if a nuclear bomb explodes on Lahore or Delhi then
they would not have said things like yes, we should go on with the atomic
explosion. This is how you manage public opinion you manipulate this public
opinion and then present it as something that is forming a barrier against better
relations. No media, I think will do anything that will harm its economic interests
that is the first thing, and that is what the free market teaches us.
There are very few positive aspects to what is free market and
what it can do but there are severe limitations. It has to be through common
interests that people can come together.
Mr. Khaled Ahmed: Public
opinion surveys are very, very deceptive. Amitabh Mattu in India carried a survey on
nuclear bomb, called "who are you afraid of." The state doctrine in India is
that it is the Chinese bomb that they are afraid of, but the survey revealed that the
people feared the Pakistani bomb. But if that is the case then India should sign NPT and
CTPT and be free of the fear of the Pakistani bomb because Pakistan has said that
if you sign then we shall sign too. So, in my view public opinions are very, very
Mr. Karamat Ali: No
democratic government in the world has a ministry of Information and Broadcasting. What
they have are autonomous corporations, like BBC. The only purpose of the ministry of
information and broadcasting is to control the information and they are notorious for
twisting arms through their grants of advertisements.
Mr. Rehman: As to the
question, what can be done [about the media] I have two answers. One, all who claim to be
a part of the civil society have to learn what the modern technology is offering them. If
they equip themselves with that then they will be able to project themselves better, they
will be able to create space with the media. The second point I was offering was that
there has to be a dialogue between the people and the media managers. Because the media
managers have their own priorities and all of them are not determined by the social
reality. Whether the media should take a report by the intelligence bureau about a person
interviewed in captivity. Does that reflect the social attitude? No. Pakistan has been
branded all over the world as a fundamentalist society, which we are not. Pakistan is not
even a religious society. It is a secular society. [Then] who is projecting [that] image.
What I mean to say is that it will be for the civil society to equip and manage its own
information systems and not necessarily be influenced by the state media.
Mr. Chengappa: As regards to
the question what will happen to the print media in view of the invasion of the electronic
technology. What the television does is that it whets your appetite for more news
as in the case of the Princess Diana accident, you didnt stop reading newspapers and
magazines for more information. Secondly, the television has a tendency to immediate,
quick sound-bites, which very difficult for people to understand and analyse.
The other thing is about attitudes and images and we talked about
the difficulty of saying which survey is right, which opinion is sane. I think we need to
keep on doing that. That is one thing, and secondly, during these Fifty Year Celebrations
we talked to people about what happened [in 1947]: the killings, the rapes. These are old
wounds, our generation hasnt read much about it. And for me, I must confess, after
reading all those things from both sides I had to hang my head in shame. Because I
didnt think that our people could do that to each other. Now, some would say that by
talking about these old wounds you are again giving fuel to those amber but I think we all
should think how we could do these things to each other, and probably learn from them.