by Yoginder Sikand
One of my many major grouses with the ‘mainstream’ Indian media (and this applies to the dominant Western media as well) is the despicable way in which it treats Pakistan. It is as if bad news about Pakistan is always good news for the media. It is also if there is nothing at all good in that country to write about or that anything good about it is not ‘newsworthy’.
That grouse has been considerably reinforced after returning last week from attending one of the most engaging and lively conferences I have ever participated in—on Democracy in South Asia—held in Islamabad. Hapless victim of Indian media stereotyping, I had hardly expected such trenchant critiques of ruling class politics, US imperialism, the misuse of religion by the powerful, patriarchal traditions and so on by leading Pakistani politicians and social activists, and that too in the air-conditioned comfort of the plush Government-run Convention Centre in the heart of Islamabad, just a stone-throw’s distance from the Pakistani Parliament. This, and the numerous wonderful Pakistani friends that I made on this recent visit, have set me off on a mission to do my own little bit to convince victims of the ‘mainstream’ media in India that there is another side of Pakistan that they must know about, about which they have been deliberately kept ignorant. Voices for genuine democracy and social justice are increasingly vibrant and strident in Pakistan today, and, contrary to what Indians (and Westerners) have been programmed to believe, Pakistan is not a failed state on the verge of being taken over by religious radicals. Continue reading