Jingoism and selective outrage


A right-wing witch hunt


Every event of tension between Indo-Pak ties brings about a storm of allegations, counter allegations and heightened sentiments of patriotism, which, if they remain unchecked, result in an extreme form of jingoism. The current situation in Kashmir – in the aftermath of militant Jihadist Burhan Wani’s death – has once again exposed the shallowness of narratives on both sides of the border.

Judging by the social media trends of both countries, a narrow, right-wing discourse prevails in the public. Hafiz Saeed, in one of his recent statements, praised Indian journalist Burkha Dutt. Dutt, who is known for her liberal stance on most of the issues, was bashed by Indian nationalists, with Arnab Goswami going as far as declaring her a part of the Pakistani lobby.

“How long will we be silent against these elements? Do these people compromise our national security or not? Your and my security. And if they do, which we know they do, why do you think we let them get away, why don’t we take on these people?” Goswami said in his program.

Burkha Dutt distanced herself from Hafiz Saeed’s approval of her stance on Kashmir and called him a terrorist. She slammed the irresponsible behavior of Goswami in her Facebook post. “He drones on and on about Pro Pakistan Doves without one word on the JK alliance agreement that commits the BJP and PDP to talks with Pakistan and Hurriyat and is silent on Modi’s own Pakistan outreach – neither of which I object to – but since Arnab Goswami measures patriotism by such views why is he so silent on the government?”

Earlier, during the JNU episode, Indian leftists in the university were accused of being anti-nationals. They were attacked while appearing before courts, along with the journalists of media outlets which held a neutral stance on the whole fiasco.

The drama that keeps dragging in India is no surprise for Pakistan either. Here, in our own country, a certain section of media and public has been on a witch-hunt for declaring anyone remotely liberal as a traitor or a RAW agent.

After Hamid Mir was shot, Geo News aired a pre-written letter, in which Mr. Mir suspected he might be attacked by the country’s premiere intelligence agency. The mere mention of this letter brought a storm of abuse, allegations and calls for censorship upon Geo News.

Outspoken liberals like Asma Jahangir and Marvi Sirmed have been considered traitors for long and through a well-planned propaganda, alternative narratives have been discouraged. Recently, Nawai Waqt group was accused of promoting an anti-state agenda on social media, as calls for gagging echoed all over Facebook and Twitter.

One interesting trend, which Hafiz Saeed’s statement brought fore once again is the fact that rightwing in both countries is attracted by the liberals and leftists of the other country. Like JuD supported Kanhaiya Kumar and his fellows during the JNU episode, Indian nationalists love to read Pakistani liberals criticising their state’s policies. As Hafiz Saeed praises Burkha Dutt and Indian National Congress, Indian patriots regularly share Asma Jahangir’s videos.

When Jibran Nasir started his campaign against Lal Masjid cleric Mullah Aziz, hundreds of Indians started following him. In his latest campaign, through Photoshopped images of Indian celebrities and politicians, he depicts the pain of Kashmiris. The campaign, which went viral all over the media drew strong response from Indians, who accused him of toeing the establishment’s line, and what not. Similarly, Pakistanis, who until now accused him of working against Pakistan’s interests, suddenly lauded his efforts.

If I may narrate my personal experience, I was followed by several Indians after one of my columns, which critically analyzed the Two-Nation Theory. However, some of my tweets on situation in Kashmir resulted in tons of abuses by Indians, followed by the same allegations of being on establishment’s payroll.

This selective outrage and whataboutery, which can be found equally on the both sides is appalling to say the least. As Pakistani media is giving a plenty of airtime to Indian brutalities in Kashmir, almost zero coverage was given to the recent report about around 1,000 dead bodies being found from Balochistan in the past 6 years. No one in Pakistani media dares to question the Pakistani state about these bodies.

A Baloch rights activist and literary figure, Abdul Wahid Baloch has been abducted from Karachi’s suburbs and as per Mohammad Hanif, the scariest part is that he was almost always at Karachi Press Club, but no one is covering his kidnapping.

It is a sad fact that we care about those far away but turn blind eyes to those being oppressed right in front of our eyes.


  1. Kashmir was very hot Potato Nehru rushed to swallow solely relying on his the then friend and anti Jinnah S Abdulla, where as Sardar Patel coolly swallowed mix of 563 Potato. Kashmir mess was combined creation of Jinnah, S Abdulla and of course Nehru for which people Indo-Pakistan has to pay dearly for eons to come.

  2. Excellent. Equally fascinating is the fact that the liberals are harsh on their own co-religionists, but tend to overlook or gloss over the rightists of other religions. Practising a funny and unfortunate variety of minority politics. No Hindu liberal really supported Asghar Ali Engineer in India when he was spearheading the reform movement in the Bohra Muslim community. This is but one example.

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