Indian fake narratives continue unabated

  • Indian claims are exposed all the time

The Indian Army Chief’s false claim of having destroyed alleged terrorist training camps in Azad Jammu Kashmir was exposed when diplomats from 28 countries accredited to Islamabad were flown in to the locations. The visiting envoys saw the devastation to civilian lives and property owing to brutal and incessant Indian artillery barrage but no sign of any alleged terrorist training camps. They were fully cognizant of the fact that India was resorting to such tactics to divert attention from its own atrocities against the Kashmiris.

The Indian chargé d’affaires refused the invitation by Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to join the visiting group of diplomats because he was privy to the falsehood of his own Army Chief’s narrative. DG ISPR Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor tweeted that the Indian media was “falsely” claiming targeting of “alleged” terror camps. He implored them to show moral courage and follow the journalistic ethos of the Pakistani media for “reporting with responsibility”.

The Chinese PM not discussing Kashmir does not imply acceptance of Indian point of view, but rather illustrates the fact that Chinese have clarity on the issue and have no need to discuss it

Instead of picking up the gauntlet, the Indian media retaliated by mudslinging against Pakistan Army. In an apparently scathing but ludicrous opinion piece titled ‘Pakistan Army Killing Press Freedom? Award-winning Journalist Quits’ published in The Week of 21 October, two incidents are cited as Pakistan Army’s alleged transgression against its own media. The first incident was based on a tweet from Dawn’s journalist Cyril Almeida that he was effectively leaving journalism. The second incident was the Pakistan government denying entry to Steve Butler, the Asia Program Coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The two contexts have been deliberately and wrongly aligned to suit India. While one stance of the DG ISPR refers to Indian media for reporting irresponsibly as the conflict involves two nuclear-armed rivals, the second is a pure domestic issue of an individual with a media house with no state intervention. Nowhere the journalist has mentioned that he is being forced to leave or that his media house has been pressurized. The Indian media failed to identify that the same .ournalist was involved in famous Dawn Leaks fiasco and the notorious interview of then PM Nawaz Sharif a few years ago. If he has continued to write years after that, there seems no reason why he would be forced by state apparatus now? Almeida, who won this year’s International Press Institute ‘World Press Freedom Hero’ award in April, has cited no reasons for his leaving Dawn. If he is moving to greener pastures, that is certainly due to his own free will, but to conjecture malice or belated coercion is uncalled for.

Pakistan’s diplomatic initiative in establishing the Kartarpur Gurdwara Corridor, has left India bewildered and at a loss. It has been oppressing its minorities with disdain, with little or no regard even for their religious sentiments. While the Muslims have been massacred and their mosques demolished, the Sikhs too have faced the wrath of extremist Hindus. In 1984, the holiest of Sikh shrines, the Golden Temple of Amritsar was attacked, and, in its wake, thousands of Sikhs were butchered. The community has been estranged since but on occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism’s founder, Guru Nanak Dev in November 2019, Pakistan decided to construct a corridor. This pathway is connecting the Sikh shrines of Dera Baba Nanak Sahib (located in Indian Punjab) and Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur (in Punjab, Pakistan). The corridor is intended to allow religious devotees from India to visit the Gurdwara in Kartarpur, 4.7 km from the Pakistan-India border, without a visa.

Hailed by not only the Sikh community worldwide, but also neutral observers like the US State Department and the European Union, the Kartarpur Corridor has been deemed as a welcome peace initiative. Stung by the accolades being showered upon Pakistan, India has tried to be vitriolic and critical of Pakistan’s diplomatic success. Not being able to physically hinder the progress, Indian Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal has slammed Pakistan for its insistence of charging $20 as service fee from Indian devotees for visiting Kartarpur Gurdwara, saying that the neighbouring country has made a business out of faith. She tweeted: “The $20 fee each charged by Pak for Kartarpur Sahib darshan is atrocious. How will a poor devotee pay this amount? PM Imran Khan’s statement that this fee will boost Pak’s economy and result in earning foreign exchange is highly shameful”.

The Indian government’s objections are highly misplaced as all famous religious pilgrim centres have a cost borne by the pilgrims for the upkeep of the site as well as welfare of the visitors. Commencing from Makkah and Medina to the Vatican, all charge fees under varying heads. This is a norm practiced all over the globe and Pakistan has done nothing that is out of place. However, it does reflect that a nominal fee of $20 per devotee is going to add up to Pakistan’s economy which seems to be the pinching issue. If it was not for the sensitivity of Sikh community and the dwindling Indian image because of Modi treating minorities poorly, India would have never agreed to this proposal by Pakistan of opening up the Kartarpur Sahib Shrine.

A lot is being propagated that Chinese President Xi Jinping did not discuss Kashmir during his recent visit to India, underlining that any decision on Kashmir was an internal matter of India.

The Chinese flagship project BRI and CPEC are close to China’s heart and Indian objections to them have been rejected by China. Moreover, before visiting India, China had invited Prime Minister Imran Khan to discuss sensitive issues. The matters relating to IOK and Azad Kashmir have a Sino-Pak alignment and merited no discussion with India.

A rift has emerged in the Indian Waqf Board, which has claimed to be a stakeholder in the Ayodhya land dispute case. On one side, the Sunni Waqf Board counsel strongly argued claim of ownership of the disputed land while, on the other side, Advocate on Record Shahid Rizvi said that the parties involved in the Ayodhya title dispute have reached a settlement and thus there will be no need of any judgment in the issue.

India is trying to wriggle out of an ugly situation through various tactics and judicial loopholes, which if coupled with the Babri Mosque and the murder of Hindu leader Kamlesh Tiwari for blasphemy can ignite an ethno-religious fiasco throughout the country. However, the intent of Indian government has already been exposed through her actions in IOK, launching of NRC, statements towards Muslims and minorities, public lynching incidents etc. The Indian judiciary has now become a party and is not expected to serve justice to her citizens.

Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has stated that the entire area from Siachen Base Camp to Kumar Post has been opened for tourism purposes. Singh also inaugurated the newly constructed ‘Colonel Chewang Rinchen Bridge’ over the Shyok River, Ladakh, which will provide all-weather connectivity in the region and will also be a crucial strategic asset in border areas.

Such a claim lacks veracity because Pakistan considers Siachen as an area under conflict and cannot guarantee peaceful tourism under the circumstances. Additionally, by allowing tourism any attempt to settle or legalize the occupation is not acceptable to Pakistan. Moreover, the Chinese PM not discussing Kashmir does not imply acceptance of Indian point of view, but rather illustrates the fact that Chinese have clarity on the issue and have no need to discuss it.

Indian fake narratives are fortunately being rejected by their own domestic audience, too.