Monday, December 21, 2015

NSA talks and the English media

The following article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference. 

Ask original questions please”. Thus pleaded the spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs, more than once, to the journalists who were merely repeating questions to Sushma Swaraj. That one line summed up the pitiful state of affairs in our media (especially the English language media based out of Delhi).
Sushma Swaraj explained in detail, why Pakistan was deviating from an agreed agenda. She read out the operative part of the Ufa agreement which said that the NSAs of the two countries would meet to “discuss all issues connected to terrorism”. Pakistan Prime Minister signed this agreement – as common sense would suggest, that means he agreed to these talks.
As has been its wont, Pakistan started to add more items to the agenda of the NSA – none of which were either discussed or agreed upon. Sushma Swaraj also clearly mentioned that they are ready for talks on other topics, but not at the NSA level. The NSA level talks must be on terrorism, as agreed upon. Sushma Swaraj was quite emphatic that our NSA cannot talk to Pak’s NSA if the agenda has items other than terrorism.
In such a crystal clear environment, what does the Delhi media understand? Let’s start by looking at this image below. The first tweet is the bottom one, and the latest is the top one.
She first says – “India says, Don’t come if you go beyond terror”. And then asks – Isn’t this in effect India saying that “Don’t come unless you only want to talk terror”. Either she forgot what she heard, or she was trying to sound intelligent by re-phrasing her earlier tweet as a question. It is beyond amusing to note how these people are regarded as some of the top journalists in India!
During the press conference, Nidhi Razdan asks Sushma Swaraj (after she clearly says No talks if they go beyond terror), “So if they don’t respond by day-after-tomorrow, then there will be no talks?” It is precisely this kind of dumbness that invited that appeal from the spokesperson – “Ask original questions please”.
Siddarth Varadarajan went a step further. He went as a guest on a Pakistan TV channel and bashed up the Indian government for having unfair expectations from Pakistan. He asked why the Indian government did not tell Pakistan in Ufa that talks with Hurriyat are not agreeable to India? India already cancelled FS level talks earlier precisely because of this reason – instead of calling out the mind-numbing ignorance of Pakistan, he faults Indian government for not asking Pakistan! And then he says, Pakistan always will want to talk about Kashmir, so India just making a big deal out of it. The genius fails to read the Ufa agreement that clearly says NSA talks will be about terrorism – and this agreement was signed by Pakistan too! Instead of calling out the duplicity of Pakistan in going back on a signed agreement, he is happy at blaming Indian government for trusting Pakistan for the same! It is scary to imagine that he was once a part of some Track-2 dialogue with Pakistan.
Here is the biggest irony – all the three journalists I have mentioned constantly advocate “constructive engagement” with Pakistan, even if Pakistan behaves in the most irrational manner. All the three journalists are also well known to block a lot of people on twitter and are least interested in any “constructive engagement”. It is pretty rich for them to give lectures on “constructive engagement”.
The Hindu’s editorial lists out the sequence of events, that clearly show how Pakistan has been refusing to co-operate with India with regards to the latest round. And then they end the editorial with this line – “There is simply no alternative to talks.” They forgot to mention that Prime Minister Modi has said this many times. They forgot to mention that Sushma Swaraj herself said this many times. We are ready to talk – as agreed let the NSA’s talk about terrorism first. Then we will talk about other topics, including J&K.
The loss is not of India’s as this section of media wants you to believe. The loss is Pakistan’s. Or perhaps the loss is for this section of the media.


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