No, Arnab Goswami, Pakistan is not an “untrustworthy neighbour” or “a strategic wreck”

Published: September 30, 2014
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A ‘debate’ on Times Now revolved around the question: “Can India make Pakistan junk the K-issue?” The context was PM Nawaz Sharif’s speech at the UNGA and his expected reference to Kashmir dispute. PHOTO: SCREENSHOT

On September 26, 2014, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addressed the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York in which he emphasised the urgent need to resolve the Kashmir issue “in accordance with the aspirations of the people” living in the disputed Himalayan region.

“We cannot draw a veil over the issue of Kashmir, until it is addressed in accordance with the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.”

An Indian television anchor had apprehended that Pakistan would once again raise the Kashmir issue at the UNGA to ‘internationalise’ the dispute. The anchor believed that Kashmir was neither an international dispute nor a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan.

The other day a ‘debate’ on Times Now revolved around the question: “Can India make Pakistan junk the K-issue?”

The context was PM Nawaz’s speech at the UNGA in New York and his expected reference to Kashmir dispute.

Mr Arnab Goswami, the anchor of Times Now’s prime time show The Noisehour, sorry, The Newshour, calls Pakistan a ‘terrorist’, ‘rogue’ and a ‘failed’ state. He terms Pakistan as an ‘untrustworthy’ neighbour and a strategic wreck, and also thinks of Pakistan as a nation that spreads terrorism on its peaceful neighbour, despite the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992, the anti-Muslim Gujarat riots of 2002, and the killing of hundreds of people in Indian-administered Kashmir. He describes Pakistani leaders as ‘clowns’ and believes most of them are unaware of their history, geography and culture.

Mr Goswami’s makes the Indian people and his viewers across the globe believe that Kashmir is not an international dispute. He admits that there are UN resolutions on Kashmir, but says Kashmir is not an international dispute. He admits that India and Pakistan have agreed to resolve Kashmir dispute bilaterally in accordance with the Simla Agreement but says that Kashmir is India’s “integral part”.

According to Mr Goswami, even though it was India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who took the Kashmir case to the UN; even though the world body broke the ceasefire between India and Pakistan in Kashmir in 1947; even though a Line of Control (LoC) exists, dividing Jammu and Kashmir in two parts; even if the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir until recently had its own prime minister and sadr-e-riyasat (president) instead of chief minister and governor respectively; even though there is an on-going struggle for the right to self-determination in Indian-administered Kashmir; even though hundreds of Kashmiris have been killed and between 8,000 to 10,000 enforced to custodial disappearance in Kashmir since 1989; even though there are more than 600,000 Indian troops stationed in Kashmir to suppress dissent; and even though India and Pakistan have fought two wars and a mini war over Kashmir, Kashmir is neither an international dispute nor a bilateral issue.

In his one-hour long show, the anchor and his favourite guests, like strategic affairs analyst Mr Maroof Raza and General Bakshi, usually speak for about 52 minutes and the other eight minutes are divided between his other, less-liked guests and commercial endorsements. On an average, he interrupts his guests from Pakistan and Kashmir at least a hundred times during each show.

Who’s going to listen to Nawaz Sharif, asks Mr Goswami. Who’s going to take Pakistan seriously, he asks. He then says that Kashmir resolution is no panacea to cure all ills prevalent in South Asia.

(Retd) Air Marshall Abid Rao, one of the guests from Pakistan on his show, gets 30 seconds to respond and he quickly responds,

“Why are you so worried about Pakistan if the world is not taking our country seriously?”

Mr Goswami interrupts by saying that Americans don’t worry about Pakistan’s cribbing.

The Hindu Nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s spokesperson Nalin Kohli gets more than required time to speak on the show. And he warns Pakistan with these words:

Cancellation of talks with Pakistan is a clear message and signal that the political climate in India has changed”.

Goswami further adds that Kashmir may be music to Pakistan’s ears but raising the issue in UNGA is ‘boring’ and will result in ‘global shaming’ of Pakistan. He continues,

“The UN has not pitched for Kashmir resolution since 1962”.

Another guest from Pakistan, Syed Tariq Pirzada, also gets just 30 seconds and he responds by saying that Nawaz Sharif is the prime minister of Pakistan, and his name is not Narendra Modi. Before Pirzada could add anything further, he is interrupted by Goswami who says that he is appalled and embarrassed that Pirzada doesn’t know the history of his own country.

An Indian guest, Mr KC Singh, former secretary MEA, on the show finally completes his long search to find the UN Resolution on Kashmir of April 21, 1948 on his iPad, and while quoting the said resolution he says that the government of India should reduce troops in Indian-administered Kashmir while Pakistan should withdraw its forces from Pakistan-administered part of Kashmir.

A verbal brawl ensues between Mr Singh and Mr Pirzada over the dictionary meaning of words ‘reduction’ and ‘withdrawal’. There are noisy scenes and on the expected lines, Mr Goswami interrupts again.

He further says that Indian PM Modi must not tolerate Pakistan’s attempts to raise the Kashmir issue at the UNGA. One of the Indian guests on the panel suggests that Modi must ignore Nawaz’s reference on Kashmir and move on. While Goswami is about to complete his usual three-minute long question (which includes bashing, rhetoric and advice for free), a Pakistani guest enjoys his cup of coffee and gives a suggestive smile to say,

“Arnab, are you finished? Can I speak now?”

Meanwhile, to Goswami’s utter dismay, the Indian prime minister could not ignore the utterances on Kashmir made by his Pakistani counterpart during his speech at the UNGA and said that he wants to hold bilateral talks to improve friendship and cooperation in all seriousness and in an atmosphere of peace, without a “shadow of terrorism”.

Apparently, Goswami is dejected with his PM’s speech. The grapevine has it that the said anchor has now resolved to interrupt his guests from Pakistan and Kashmir even more vociferously than before in his flaming debates in future.

Gowhar Geelani

Gowhar Geelani

The author is a writer, journalist and political commentator from Srinagar, the South Asian Journalism Programme (SAJP) scholar 2015, the first Kashmiri to be selected as Munich Young Leader 2014. He has also served the Deutsche Welle, in Germany, as an editor. He tweets as @gowhargeelani

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.