India steps up outreach to neutralise Pak efforts

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 14

India swung into a proactive mode by holding a special briefing for the foreign media and called in BBC and Al Jazeera representatives for their tilted reporting on Kashmir. A complement of the foreign media, largely western, was briefed by officials from the Ministry of External Affairs on the changes in the composition of Jammu & Kashmir and the abrogation of Article 370.

The Indian attempt is to neutralise Pakistan’s bid to raise the issue at every global forum. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan reiterated this resolve today when he promised to become the voice of Kashmir and questioned the silence of the international community on the issue. In an attempt to provide a sophisticated spin to the Indian version on Kashmir, the Ministry of External Affairs conducted the briefing for foreign media instead of the Union Home Ministry.

On Pakistan’s Independence Day, Khan had especially travelled to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) to address its Legislative Assembly in Muzaffarabad where he said the world community would be responsible if a war breaks out between Pakistan and India. He also said PM Narendra Modi had “committed a strategic blunder”.  

Sources expect the special briefing for the foreign media to take some of the hard edge off its reporting on Kashmir, especially the editorials in papers like The Guardian and The New York Times. The MEA is also understood to have called in BBC’s South Asia head Nicola Careem and a representative of Al Jazeera, whose identity could not be ascertained. They were informed that sporadic protests should not be given the colour of widespread unrest .

The reading here is that the western media does not have much of an issue with the removal of Article 370 but is more focussed on alleged human rights violations, the clampdown on media in the Valley and the detention of political leaders.

The foreign media was told that the Indian Government’s re-arrangement of the governance model in J&K would lead to all-round development that would help in ending the rule of the gun by terrorists. There was also a hint of early elections to give democratic representation to the people of Kashmir. On Article 370, it was pointed out that it had led to separatism and corruption and had been used by Pakistan as a tool to spread terror. 

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