Kashmir incident: Gulf in Indian and Pakistani media
- 9 January 2013
- From the section Asia
Reports that two Indian soldiers were killed in an alleged cross-border attack by Pakistani troops in the disputed territory of Kashmir have been the top story in Indian media since late on 8 January. TV talk shows debated ties between the two countries while newspaper headlines on Wednesday focus on the alleged mutilation of one of the bodies.
Media coverage in Pakistan has been more muted. Some headlines home in on India's response to the deaths, and an English-language editorial warns against further confrontation.
The reported attack has been at the top of the Indian news agenda since late on 8 January. Leading private channels NDTV 24x7, CNN-IBN and Times Now have continued to air onscreen captions such as "Pak's open aggression" and "Indian jawans [soldiers] brutalized".
"Pak troops kill two jawans; behead, mutilate one of them", says the top headline on the front page of today's Times of India, the country's best-selling English-language newspaper. A prominent caption speaks of a "brazen intrusion".
The tone is echoed by the other papers, with Hindustan Times announcing: "Pak crosses LoC [Line of Control], beheads one jawan, slits another's throat".
Indian talk shows
The story was hotly debated on Indian TV talk shows aired on 8 January. Panellists on "The Buck Stops Here" on NDTV 24X7 were split between hawks and doves. Suggestions that there should be a military response to the incident were countered by calls for continued dialogue.
Leading editor of private Times Now TV Arnab Goswami chaired a prime-time show, Newshour, in which he strongly criticised the "cowardly Pakistani soldiers" alleged to have carried out the act. He added that the current "candy-floss diplomacy" - a reference to a recent tour of India by the Pakistani cricket team - needed to stop.
Prominent Pakistani commentator Zafar Hilaly, who was also on the show, reacted by saying that while the mutilation of anyone was a "reprehensible act", it was "utter rubbish" to suggest that the regular soldiers of the Pakistan Army were involved. He warned that discussions between the two nuclear-armed countries needed to take place in a calmer atmosphere.
The story has received relatively low-key coverage in Pakistan. On Urdu-language TV news channels Dawn News and Geo News, it was very low in the running order this morning, and it is absent altogether from Urdu-language newspapers.
A few English-language papers have run headlines focusing on India's response. "Claiming two troops dead, Indian FM threatens 'action'", says The Nation, well-known for its anti-Indian stance. "India threatens to 'attack' Pakistan over LoC deaths", echoes the Lahore-based Daily Times, which usually takes a moderate line.
They were both referring to a statement late on 8 December by Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, who said India's response would be decided "after careful consideration of the details" and would comprise "steps that are meaningful and effective".
A calming note was sounded by The News, an English-language daily known for advocating peace with India, which said in an editorial: "Neither nation needs or wants another war, both countries have moved beyond that… Serious as this incident is we cannot, must not, allow it to propel us in the direction of further confrontation."