Hello everyone, have been traveling with limited access to internet, hence the silence.
I was among the journalists at a panel discussion ‘Does media jingoism fan tensions between India and Pakistan?’ organised by Forum of Media Professionals at the India International Centre in New Delhi on April 15. The event got a lot of play because of misreporting.
The Indian media hyped up a minor disruption, reporting that the Pakistani journalists in the panel were ‘attacked’ or ‘roughed up’. The Pakistani media picked up on the photos and subsequently there were condemnations and even demonstrations in Pakistan about the ‘attack’.
To set the record straight, no one was roughed up or attacked. One man did disrupt the meeting – but very briefly, from the back of the auditorium. The organisers had turned away 3-4 men who refused to sign the register – he must have sneaked in. The discussion was half over when he stood up and started shouting anti-Pakistan, pro-war slogans (someone sitting near him said he’d just come in). The organisers pushed him out. TV cameramen and photographers followed.
Most papers and channels used photos and footage of the scuffle outside, rather than focusing on the discussion inside, which continued, despite the noise we could hear outside for a couple of minutes. The interruption lasted for maybe a minute or so. The discussion started at 10 am and continued till 1.30 pm. It turned out that he was from the Sri Ram Sene, the same group that tried to prevent Valentines Day celebrations in India, to whom thousands of people sent ‘pink chaddis’ in response.
The incident demonstrated what we had been talking about, that TV, being a visual medium, focuses on images rather than words. Hence their running after the scuffle rather than focusing on the discussion. This is the nature of the beast. Those keen to tame it might try organizing mass emails, letters and phone calls to demand meaningful change.
Here is Rahimullah Yusufzai’s article on the incident – `The good, the bad and the ugly’, The News, Apr 21, 2009 <http://tinyurl.com/dxtuo3>
Our visit also involved several other interactions with the media. Rahimullah Yusufzai, the veteran reporter from Peshawar was the most sought after for his views on Talibanisation, living as he does in the heart of the storm. Here is the link to a full page ‘idea exchange’ published April 19, a forum that The Indian Express regularly holds: “I don’t think we have reached a stage when the Taliban will take over Pakistan” – <http://tinyurl.com/dzeyc9>
I showed some of my documentaries at a meeting of the Allahabad chapter of the Pakistan-India Peoples Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) and at the Delhi Press Club, organised by Youth4Peace. Here are links to a couple of reports on the Press Club screening:
‘In Pakistan, change has to come from within, says journalist’ -Indian Express, Apr 20, 2009 – <http://tinyurl.com/covts7>
`Pak journalist’s short take on women’s rights’, Mail Today, Apr 20, 2009 – <http://tinyurl.com/cmb7ey>