A certain hysteria has set in among Indian and Pakistani people — many of which watch the other side with a jaundiced eye. Both sides continue a war of words and bluster weeks after the attacks in Mubai.
Words like unguided missiles have raised the spectre of an air war between India and Pakistan.
Pakistan’s fighter aircraft are forward deployed and are flying ear-shattering sorties over its major cities, creating a war hysteria among its public.
By Sujan Dutta
The Telegraph (London, UK)
In India, a preparation for the worst is not accompanied by a declaration of intent for hostilities. But the chief of the Indian Air Force’s largest command today chose to claim that the IAF is capable of hitting “5,000 targets” in Pakistan.
“The IAF has earmarked 5,000 targets in Pakistan. But whether we will cross the LoC or the International Border to hit the enemy targets will have to be decided by the political leadership of the country,” P.K. Barbora, the air officer commanding-in-chief of Western Air Command, said in Guwahati today
The words evoked shock and awe among diplomats because the political leadership is signalling otherwise. Air headquarters in New Delhi may still tamp down what Barbora has had to say. But that is in the very nature of brinkmanship.
It is now time for bluster, not boom-boom.
It is apt. Inside the defence ministry in South Block, army, navy and air force officers display letters and postcards from citizens who are praising the armed forces and are urging war. Some of the postcards are colourful with “Attack Pakistan” written in bold capital letters.
The remarks of Barbora, the decorated, chain-smoking officer, are in keeping with the mood that is gripping the military. They do not constitute a call to arms.
“Air power is lethal and escalatory and is therefore to be used with great caution,” said Air Marshal (retired) Padamjit Singh “Pudding” Ahluwalia, Barbora’s immediate predecessor as the Western Air Command chief. “And war plans are based on objectives. What kind of objective you must have is the crucial decision that has to be handed down. Ideally, you must have the capability to defeat the adversary’s will to fight,” he added.
War of Words Too Intense; Coverage Too “Hyped”?
By Daniel Pepper
Christian Science Monitor
Emerging from decades of government control and regulations, India’s media are quickly evolving into a boisterous, zealous fourth estate, most observers agree. But coverage of the 67-hour Mumbai (Bombay) terrorist attacks has caused unprecedented condemnation, especially toward 24-hour television news channels. Critics describe it as “TV terror” for showing gory scenes, being too aggressive, and often reporting incorrect information as fact.
“They don’t need to apologize as much as they need to introspect – figure out how to operate in a time of crisis,” says Dipankar Gupta, sociology professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.
A vendor sells newspapers featuring front page stories and photos from the attacks in Mumbai, India, Sunday Nov. 30, 2008.(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
On the evening of Nov. 26, well-coordinated attacks against two five-star hotels, a hospital, a popular cafe, a railway station, and a Jewish center brought the financial capital of India to its knees, leaving at least 171 dead and more than 230 injured.
In the following days, critics say, many Indian journalists were overly dramatic, sensationalist, and quick to report live “exclusives” of unconfirmed rumors. Many say TV anchors, who are minor celebrities in India, were overwrought with emotion and were quick to blame Pakistan for the attacks.
“It’s high time we realize and accept that we are at fault,” said Shishir Joshi, editorial director of Mid-Day, a Mumbai newspaper. “We did well getting into the line of fire, but from an ethical point of view we screwed up big-time.”
Recognizing the missteps in coverage, the recently created National Broadcaster Association revealed a new set of rules for the industry last week. The guidelines ban broadcasting of footage that could reveal security operations and live contact with hostages or attackers.
The association, which represents many of the country’s top news channels, hammered out the new regulations after several meetings with government officials. At the same time, India’s Parliament is considering the creation of a broadcasting regulatory agency for private news channels.
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Pakistan Warns India
Pakistan warned India on Thursday not to launch a strike against it and vowed to respond to any attack — a sign that the relationship between the two nuclear powers remains strained in the wake of the Mumbai attacks.
Though the South Asian rivals have engaged in tit-for-tat accusations in recent weeks, both sides have repeatedly said they hope to avoid conflict. But India has not ruled out the use of force in response to the attacks, which it blames on a Pakistan-based militant group.
“We want peace, but should not be complacent about India,” Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters in his hometown of Multan in central Pakistan. “We should hope for the best but prepare for the worst.”
Pakistan and India have fought three wars since they were created in the bloody partition of the Indian subcontinent at independence from Britain in 1947.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani echoed Qureshi’s sentiments Thursday and urged the international community to pressure India to defuse the current tension.
He also repeated Pakistan’s demand that India provide evidence to support its claim that the 10 gunmen who killed at least 164 people in Mumbai last month were Pakistani and had links to the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba.
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