Good afternoon ladies and Gentlemen,
My name is Gaurav Sawant and I am your punching bag for the session.
I want to begin by playing out a one minute long clip of a question I posed to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on board his special flight, when he was returning, after a 5 day two nation tour of Russia and China on 24th of October.
Question (Gaurav C Sawant, Editor Headlines Today/Aaj Tak): Its been over three weeks since you met Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in New York. Firing, Prime Minister, has not only increased at the LoC but also along the international border, are you disappointed with Nawaz Sharif and if Pakistan continues to fire, how should we respond Prime Minister?
Answer (Prime Minister): Let me say that I am disappointed, because in the New York meeting there was a general agreement on both the sides that peace and tranquillity should be maintained on the border, on the Line of Control as well as on the international border and this has not happened. It has come to me as a big disappointment. We had agreed at that meeting that the ceasefire which was made effective in 2003, if it has held ground for 10 years, it could be made to hold ground later on also. The fact that this is not happening, is something which is really a matter of disappointment. I sincerely hope that at this late hour Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will recognize that this is a development which is not good for either of the two countries.
Dr Manmohan Singh as you all acknowledge has invested a lot in peace with Pakistan. And he is a disappointed man. So is the nation. And we in the media, only reflect public opinion in general.
I want to ask a couple of questions -
By reporting Ceasefire violations along the LoC and IB and its impact on soldiers and civilians are we, the media, escalating India-Pak tensions? Or are those who violate the CFA (ceasefire agreement) escalating tensions?
By reporting that in August 2013 Hafiz Mohammed Saeed was leading the Eid prayers at Gaddafi stadium in Lahore and that he is the mastermind of a series of terror attacks across India, are we escalating India-Pakistan tensions? Or are those who turn Nelson’s Eye and are seen to be encouraging Saeed’s anti India activities escalating tensions?
It is Pakistan’s worst kept secret that Dawood Ibrahim wanted in India for 1993 blasts that killed 257 innocent Indians lives like a king in Karachi. Are we escalating tension by exposing Dawood and Pak double speak or are those who harbour terrorists like Dawood and Indian Mujahideen’s Bhatkal brothers escalating tension?
Ladies and gentlemen in my 19 years as a journalist I have covered almost all major terror attacks in India. Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Bangalore….the smell of burnt flesh, the sight of charred remains and wailing families are something I have seen and reported on.
I reflect public resentment at Pakistan’s double cross and our government’s unnecessary accommodation of Pakistani sensitivities and engagement with Pakistan at all costs.
If you think TV is bad, twitter and face book are a good barometer to gauge public opinion. While some may be fringe elements, not all on twitter represent the fringe. From prominent voices in the country to the aam admi, just search India-Pakistan and you will see media is just telling you what the nation feels.
My information is not based on documents leaked by the deep state – propaganda against Pakistan - but on solid evidence that has been processed through courts of law in India and abroad.
I was in the Chicago federal court day in and day out covering the Tahawwur Hussein Rana trial and David Coleman Headley confessions. The FBI exposed the role of Pakistani state in the activities of Rana and Headley – not just in terror activities in India but also in Denmark.
It is in Pakistan’s interest to investigate those who dealt with Headley. Did Pakistan do so?
26/11 probe was a text book investigation. From Kasab’s confessions, to intercepting telephone conversations, to the Yamaha engine being sold by Japan to Pakistan to interrogation of Abu Jundal, deported from a friendly Arab country.
Ladies and gentlemen, Pakistan recently tried to stop the extradition of a terrorist from a friendly gulf country – going to the extent of producing a Pakistani passport and family in court. The Indian government then had to produce DNA samples to prove he was an Indian.
That is how much Pakistan cooperates in the war on terror.
Ladies and gentlemen I want to ask one question:-
When your house is on fire what do you do?
Do you politely, with a glass of wine and caviar in your hand mumble apologetically terror should stop or do you scream from the roof top?
Ladies and gentlemen that is exactly what we in the media are doing. Screaming from the roof top – wake up. Stop this Pakistan sponsored terror.
Tell us are we wrong on FACTS?
I completely reject the theory it is a TRP game. This is far more serious than TRPs. 167 dead in Mumbai, over 100 ceasefire violations in two months alone, we just lost a lieutenant colonel in Samba, a JCO in Uri yesterday. This is not TRPs – at least not for me or the group I work for.
We demand accountability from our own government and as citizens of the world – from the Pakistani government. And we are glad our counterparts in Pakistan are doing the same. Asking tough questions. It was after all a Pakistani channel, Geo News, that first reached Kasab’s village and proved it to the world that he was a Pakistani terrorist.
India has changed. Something snapped during 26/11. Now we want answers. We don’t want war. Nobody is war mongering but it cannot be business as usual without the real perpetrators of 26/1 being punished and terror machinery aimed at India being shut down.
There will be no war. But the media will continue to expose you..and embarrass you…there is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.
And it is happening already. The recent arrest of Yasin Bhatkal has given even more information on the role that Pakistani deep state has played in sponsoring terror.
We must remain engaged is good. But is the media wrong when we ask what’s the goal?
Pak says TALK Kashmir. Ok so what on Kashmir? Can Pak take Kashmir by force? 1947, 65, 71, Kargil, terror – it is not happening by force and as you now realize, each time it hurts Pakistan even more.
Hot pursuit, surgical strikes, covert action – when media talks about options on the table – even our own government is critical of our debates. But it is good there is awareness in the masses and that brings more accountability from the system. Ours for sure, yours hopefully.
But at the same time nobody should have that Asha that ads in newspapers will bring aman. Even if you have full page aman ki asha ads, they ring hollow when the the front page is all about innocent Indian civilians or soldiers killed in Pak sponsored terror attacks.
1. Accept the fact every time there is a terror attack, media will ask tough questions.
2. Such is the nature of the beast that the questions will be biting and will hurt.
3. Media is not war mongering. Media does not want war at the same time media also does not want perpetrators go unpunished.
4. All options on the table, surgical strikes, drone attacks, covert operations are being discussed – at media level not government level. We have war gamed a surgical strike in Pakistan in our studio and told our viewers it will not bring a long lasting solution.
5. If you dismiss evidence that convicted Kasab & Headley as hear say and literature – you expose yourself – your own lack of will or inability to deal with the real issue.
6. There is total transparency in India – from LoC to Samba to beheading – we ask our government tough questions. I hope one day you in Pakistan will also ask your army and government the same tough questions. Why is Pak aiding, abeting and spreading terror across India, and Indian interests in Afghanistan.
1. ENGAGE WITH AS MANY JOURNALISTS ON BOTH SIDES AS POSSIBLE.
2. LET THERE NOT BE A COSY CLUB OF LIKE MINDED JOURNALISTS LIKE SOME ORGANISATIONS HAVE BECOME. OTHERWISE YOU ARE ONLY PREACHING TO THE CONVERTED AND ENJOYING GOOD WHISKEY.
3. SEND TV JOURNALISTS TO EACH OTHER’S ORGANISATION. SPEND A MONTH OR TWO IN EACH OTHER’S ORGANISATION. THEN YOU APPRECIATE THE OTHER BETTER.
4. HAVE SEGMENTS OF NEWS FROM EACH OTHER’S COUNTRIES – GOOD & BAD. HAVE THEM ANCHORED FROM THEIR STUDIOS – EXPENSIVE – BUT DO-ABLE.
5. Terror & talks cannot happen simultaneously. Go after elements that spread terror. Like Dr Singh told the Chinese premier Li Keiqiang – the friendship will grow but has to be built on the foundation of peace and tranquility along the Sino-Indian border.
We have to have peace at the borders and ensure Jihad tap is turned off. Then ladies and gentlemen sky is the limit.
And we could actually be reporting on a cricket match or an Indian movie being shot in Lahore and there’d be no resentment to Pakistani artists in Mumbai.