Monday, May 9, 2011



Interested Indian observers should thank Sen.Rehman Malik, a fellow cop like me, who is Pakistan's Interior Minister, for facilitating the visit to Islamabad at this sensitive time in the history of Pakistan of two prominent and widely-respected journalists of the Indian electronic media---Barkha Dutt of NDTV and Suhasini Haider of CNN-IBN--- for reporting on the delicate situation there by asking the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi to issue them visas.

2. It has been reported that on the receipt of a Tweet from Barkha regarding the issue of a visa, he intervened immediately to ensure that Indian journalists based in New Delhi faced no difficulty in getting visas. Barkha and Suhasini were among the initial beneficiaries of his intervention.

3. This was a remarkable gesture by Senator Malik which has made me wonder how we in India would have conducted ourselves in a similar situation. If at the height of a national security situation in India, some reputed Pakistani journalists had tweeted Shri P.Chidambaram, our Home Minister, seeking his intervention for a visa, would he have intervened? If some well-known Pakistani TV journalists had wanted to come to New Delhi to telecast debates on issues relating to India's relations with Pakistan and the US, would we have allowed them in the same way Pakistan's Interior Ministry--- without any apparent constraining intervention from the Pakistani army and the Inter-Services Intelligence so far--- has allowed Barkha and Suhasini to report from Lahore, Rawalpindi and Islamabad? Would we have allowed a Pakistani journalist like Hamid Mir or Ejaz Haider or Hanif Mohammad or any such personality to telecast a live talk show from New Delhi involving eminent opinion-makers in the brilliant way Barkha has been doing from Islamabad for the last three nights?

4. I have been closely following the despatches of Barkha and Suhasini and the live debates organised by Barkha from Islamabad for the last three nights. What has fascinated me is not only the rich contents of their despatches and debates, but also the freedom with which the two have apparently been allowed to report and discuss live from Islamabad.

5. Their despatches and debates are being watched not only by audiences in India, but also by audiences in Pakistan. The Pakistani authorities have till now not shown the least sign of nervousness that the reportage of Barkha and Suhasini could add to their difficulties in dealing with a very sensitive domestic situation.

6. This speaks very highly of the self-confidence of Senator Malik and his colleagues and their keenness not to do anything that might come in the way of reporting by the Indian journalists even if there be a potential risk of creating difficulties for the Pakistan Govt.

7. Thanks to the scintillating debates organised by Barkha----three so far--- and the crisp and well-analysed reporting of Suhasini, we in India have a better understanding of the storm signals from Pakistan --- in relation to domestic affairs as well as its relations with the US. Barkha and Suhasini need to be complimented in equal measure for maintaining a healthy balance and restraint in their reporting and for not letting themselves be influenced by "the Fix Pakistan" syndrome unfortunately seen in many other TV news channels.

8.Indo-Pakistan relations are generally characterised by petty-mindedness, suspicions and chicanerry on both sides. Senator Rehman Malik needs to be complimented for rising above such negative reflexes in facilitating the coverage of the situation in Pakistan by Barkha and Suhasini.

9. If we in India are fair and mentally generous, we ought to recognise the gesture of Senator Malik for what it is and reciprocate it in good measure from our side in the hope of paving the way for a turning point in the attitude of the two Governments towards each other's media. (10-5-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Strudies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )


ambi said...

From when NDTV and CNNIBN is considered a part of indian media. They never represented us! the divisive prpaganda that they did in last gen ele, we ll never forgive them.

Paresh said...

I am sure Barkha Dutt will come back and write about how there was no evidence that Pakistan Army ISI had any knowledge of Bin Laden being in Pakistan!!! I am sure that she will absolve the Pakistan establishment of every wrond-doing in this case. Maybe even that Pakistan Army ISI was not involved in the Mumbai terror attack. THAT IS THE REASON THEY HAVE ISSUED HER A VISA - ITS ALL FOR PROPAGANDA!!

Let us not be naive!! If an overtly pro-India journalist from Pakistan were coming to India we would also issue him/her a visa, even in the middle of a nuclear war!

ambi said...

i ld ve allowed cyril almeda, n kamran shafi sir.

ashutosh said...

Journos like Barkha Dutt seem to enjoy the limelight and for this they are ready to stoop to new "lows". We have not forgotten Radia affair in which Barkha was involved neck deep. i think she is eying some prestigious international award and to achieve this goal, she is betraying the nation. Going to enemy's home is all part of this gameplan of hers. Do not be mistaken.

prashhanthkpp said...

Amen! preposterous chauvinism enacted to increase depleting TRP ratings of their respective representative channels cannot be called ethical journalism.

BalajiS said...

"two prominent and widely-respected journalists"

So much for Barkha's conversation with Nira Radia!

Perhaps Radia could not get a visa to her!

Vaibhav said...

Here we go again...another barkha article.

Krishna Kacker said...

Prior to this event, Sen Rehman Malik was for me another Pak politician. I have recently modified my opinion, what with his immediate intervention for visas to Barkha Dutt and Suhasini Haider,and my respect for him has considerably gone up.Ditto for the independence of the Journalists expressing their views in Pakistan.It appears the press is stronger and more free there than in India.It augers well for Indo Pak understanding.

Esoteric said...

Fair point Sir,why not start by allowing Pakistani TV channels in India?

I was waiting for this piece from the moment I saw BDutt live from Islamabad,though I thought you would only sing her praises.Life is predictable.

kl said...

Isn't the same politician Mr Rehman Malik who called the dossiers aftrer dossiers sent by India a mere literature ? Surprising that a single act of allowing some journalists who are looked at with suspicion in India would make Rehman Malik a statesman in the eyes of a senior intelligence man like Raman, no wonder how our spineless leaders would act on these kind of advices given by our intelligence community.

asiya naushad said...

As a Pakistani I am surprised, and not pleasantly, at the response of our Indian friends to what is a perfectly well reasoned blog. The author has just asked what would have been the Indian reaction in such a situation and Pakistan has proved that it comes off better-much better-than our much praised neighbours. And why is Barkha such an eye sore for them? Because she speaks the truth and calls a spade just that? The proof of the pudding always lies in the eating. So go ahead and allow our channels free access in your country, allow our journos visas to report on what they like. One is really sad and sorry for what India has been able to achieve given all the years of 'free speech'.

ambi said...

hi asiya, thanks for the response, yaar, u seem to be totally unaware of the facts, frankly, we dont have any problem, pak media operating in india. Question is are pakistani shoulders are strong enough to handle the truth. the whole pakistani generation is wasted with by the brain washing by ISI propaganda of Íslam Khatremein'. just see what u ve done to ur self. N u dont know barkha n company. what immense damage they have done to my society n country with their false propaganda.

meri bahen, meri jooti dikhne mein bahoot acchi hain, kahan kaatti hain, sirf hamein pata hain. pahen ke dekho, chaho to usko wahi pe rakh lo, pata chal jayega, n then u ll join our company, welcome sis in advance.

kl said...

Hi look here, who is preaching us on fairplay, journlastic ethics and god forbid about Speaking Truth !!! one Ms Asia, a pakisthani. Whole world knows what is pakisthan and what pakisthanis are upto. Do India & Indians need any lecture from them ??