The frontiers can be softened only by
In 1947 when the communal riots were
on in India and Pakistan many people in both the countries had their own private opinion.
Today, no Indian or Pakistani has his own private opinion.
If ever the cage is broken it will be
broken because of the genuine assault on our minds by the BBC Urdu and the German radio
because that is where the news is laid; that is where the truth is being told.
If you wish to actually normalise at
the regional level, then the print media, which are totally free, must also tow a free
line of opinion.
The Pakistanis will find it easier to
get away from this mythology than the Indian because the Indians have been
indoctrinated under a system of democracy and have thus become prejudiced by their own
Mr. Khaled Ahmed, a senior
journalist from Lahore, pointed out that the advanced technology is no guarantee that
frontiers will be softened. National boundaries had been breached right in the beginning,
and long before the onset of the computer communication, as first the radios and then the
televisions of India and Pakistan were heard and seen by people on the other sides of the
border. However, he remarked, that if the purpose of the governments was to persuade the
other side of the population then they have failed because neither the Indians have been
persuaded by the PTV nor the Pakistanis by Door Darshan. At the same side, and sadly
enough, the states have succeeded at "internal indoctrination". They have
persuaded their own people to think in a particular way. Even friends across the borders
cannot see each other face to face on political issues that are outstanding between the
two countries, because they have both been fed contradictory data.
Mr. Ahmed quoted various examples from the Pakistani television,
where the constant pattern is to show a non-Muslim or non-Pakistani girl falling in love
with the Muslim hero. This pattern has been repeated in the background of Kashmir,
Bangladesh and Kelash. The message is very clear, and very primitive: "we do not only
have an upper hand over you but can also have your women!"
The Indian reply to this, according to Mr. Ahmed, can perhaps be
seen in the movie where a Muslim Syed girl is shown falling in love with a Hindu boy.
In this scenario, Mr. Ahmed sees the population of both the
countries relying more on the Urdu and Hindi broadcasts of BBC, and now also the German
radio, for good impartial information as well as for undermining their own dictatorial
ideological set-ups. The free press in India and Pakistan, especially Pakistan, has now
made it a routine duty to reproduce these broadcasts.
What is happening is that the print media, which is totally free
in both in India and Pakistan, and is rightly quite cruel to the politicians, is still
slavishly following the government line in the matters of foreign policy.
More channels are opening up, but they also have little freedom;
they censor cartoons as well as news and information. Hence, the two media are still
talking to their own people and the political frontiers are only tightening.
Mr. Ahmed pointed out that the political frontiers can be hoped
to soften if an advance is made in some other direction, such as free trade or free
exchange of newspapers. For instance, if someone from Bombay wants his English newspaper
to be sold in Pakistan then he will have to be very careful about what is being written
it wont be the third or fourth editorial assistant anymore who will write
whatever he has been indoctrinated about Pakistan. Then the Indian newspaper will have to cover
Pakistan, and probably also to employ Pakistani journalists; the newspapers will become
balanced. However, the scope of such an endeavour is moderated by the fact that the
English readership in Pakistan is very limited.
A bigger problem will have to faced if free exchange of
newspapers is extended to Urdu newspapers, because there is a large Urdu market in India,
which might be unhappy in the beginning "by the inroad that our Nawa-i-Waqt and
Jang will make into India." Their messages may also disturb the Indian readers
but Mr. Ahmed hoped that the free market will perform its own miracle: "if you want
to be sold in India and to get Indian advertisements, then you better be balanced."