Therefore, when we talk about national
security, the blinkers are inbuilt, not imposed.
It involves their perception, their
plans, their personnel and whatever they do. It becomes worst in Pakistan because of the
direct military rule for more than 25 years but its no better in India.
What do the Kashmiris want?
Nobody seems to be interested in asking them what do they want and that is the common
thing that you will find both in India and Pakistan especially among the intelligentsia.
This thing of territorial integrity
evolved from the colonists because their main concern was with territories and not human
beings and we adhere to it very strongly
We cant talk about civil society
based on small NGOs
we really need to seriously think about the limitations and not
delude ourselves that we can substitute one with the other and if we do have to
substitute, why do we need the state at all? To repress us, to suppress us, to extract
whatever it can out of us?
Mr Karamat Ali spoke on
"Media and its blinkers." He described himself as someone who was not a
liberal and did not see social phenomenon just in the framework of the market. "One
also has to look at the broader issues involved." Therefore, the existence or the
non-existence of blinkers is jointly defined by the nature of the state and the reality of
He explored both these variables separately during the course of
his speech. Pursuing the "nature of the state" first, he observed that:
- "The states in the sub-continent are essentially a
continuation of the colonial states." Referring to both India and Pakistan he felt,
that, although there were changes in the way these states operated now in the
post-colonial era, they still followed the old colonial pattern of keeping the natives out
of any discourse that related to issues of national interest whether political,
social or economical in nature. Referring to Pakistan, he said that it had now graduated
to being a client state from being a colonial state by way of the international
globalisation led by the US. Quoting Chomski, the greatest living humanist, he elaborated
upon the client state system of the US: "The basic fact is that the US has organised
under its sponsorship and protection a new colonial system of client states ruled mainly
by terror and serving the interest of a small local and foreign business and military
elite." He noted that India, too, remains a client state but the Indian scholars do
not like talking about it.
- "In Pakistan, the elite refuse to undertake the most basic
reforms that are required, especially in the agrarian sector." Therefore, the state
is characterised by a powerful, feudalistic agrarian sector, which is reflected in our
lacklustre political development.
- "Both these states are national security states." He
said that a colonial state was a national security state, which essentially meant that it
had to secure the interests of its coloniser.
Exploring the "reality of the media", he made the
- Both India and Pakistan have privately-owned press. In Pakistan,
the elite owns the press as a part of the establishment. We dont have any papers
under State Control.
- The press-ownership pattern in both the countries are
monopolies. In Pakistan, the print media is dominated by three main houses: (a) Jang
Group, (b) Dawn Group, and (c) Nation/Nawai Waqt Group.
These publication groups are a part of the overall system and
therefore cannot escape its suppressive nature. "These are big industrial houses,
very closely linked to the economic, political and security establishments through a
variety of connections."
- In Pakistan, we had had censorship for an extended period of time
although there is no official censorship today. India did not have any censorship except
during emergency periods.
- When it comes to national security issues, e.g. Kashmir, it is
noted that the media on both the sides plays nothing but the role of a propagandist.
"It simply propagates the views of the establishment. At the same time it effectively
suppresses all dissenting views and in Chompskis terminology, it is engaged in the
function of manufacturing consent." Also, the media on both the sides observes the
following stances in dealing with national security issues:
- One cannot question the rights of the nationalities. "In
Pakistan, you cannot say that the two-nation theory was wrong. In India, you cannot say
that the two-nation theory was right. [And] nowhere can you say that these states in this
whole sub-continent were actually a multinational entity."
- Nobody can say anything against the official perception on Kashmir
adopted by both the sides which is that Kashmir is an integral part of their
respective identity and territories.
- The whole issue of militarization and especially nuclearization is
a victim of self-imposed censorship. Nobody can challenge the established views on these
- The media cynically and deliberately distinguishes in the manner
that the nature of stories and editorials contained in the newspapers vary with their
language and readership. In Pakistan, he noted that what is published in English
newspapers is not published in Urdu newspapers and vice versa. The viewpoint of English
papers tends to be more liberal, catering to its more learned and objective readers,
whereas that of Urdu newspapers remains narrow and hostile. This holds true even when both
of them are simultaneously owned by the same publishing house. A case in point, according
to the speaker, was that of the Urdu daily "Jang" and the English daily
"The News" which are both owned by the Jang Group.
Mr. Ali described the blinkers in the media as having "a
material base," since "they are based on this very close interlocking of the
private economic interest and the establishment." Therefore, the real issue was not
of "the blinkers" but the "democratisation of the state". In other
words, The State and the accompanying establishment need to be progressive and the
blinkers will automatically disappear. Although the NGOs played a significant role in
bringing about change, their role remained limited and in no way could be confused with
the mammoth role that the State needs to play. "I think we need to have a democratic,
socially responsible state and short of that there is no possibility of any change in the
miserable situation of the majority of people of what we call the civil society in
Pakistan... I think Indians also need to think along those lines."
Pointing out the differences between the outlooks of the Urdu and
the English press, he observed that almost the entire editorial page of Jang
appears to be the exclusive property of the most retrograde columnist in Pakistan. "I
dont know who has appointed them for they keep blurting out the worst kind of
propaganda, worse, for instance than what even the GHQ would have wanted them to
regarding Kashmir, India and nuclearisation." He observed that this was very
different from The News, which is an English newspaper owned by the same group.