No Access to the ‘Other Side’

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The LoC on both sides is inaccessible to journalists and the public.

It’s not a question of being biased, but rather the lack of access according to Praveen Swami, National Editor – Strategic and International Affairs at the Indian Express.

“Since the last Indian journalists were expelled from Pakistan in May 2014, India hasn’t had correspondents in Pakistan. Even when journalists were there, they were not allowed in sensitive areas. The same holds true for Pakistani journalists in India.

— Praveen Swami, National Editor, Strategic and International Affairs, The Indian Express

However, it’s not as though the media doesn’t cover different sides of the conflict where it can.

Local papers, especially out of Jammu do many more stories about what’s happening on the ground, including covering the human cost of the conflict.

— Praveen Swami, National Editor, Strategic and International Affairs, The Indian Express

Escalating ‘Shrillness’ on Both Sides

Things have changed in the Pakistani media since 2013, according to Anita Joshua of The Hindu, who was also the paper’s Islamabad correspondent between 2010 and 2013. Before that, there was an active effort in Pakistan to be more circumspect after Osama Bin Laden’s killing.

“What I noticed during my three years there was a remarkable shift in the media narrative vis-a-vis India after al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden’s killing in Pakistan in May 2011. Till then, an oft-discussed issue in the Pakistani media used to be the “existential threat from India’’. But, after the Abbottabad attack, that ceased to be a frequently asked question as the media became more circumspect and started speaking about the threat to the nation from within.

— Anita Joshua, former Islamabad Correspondent for The Hindu

After 2013 though, the public discourse in both countries has grown more shrill, with the Pakistani media reacting to their counterparts in India.

“The Indian media, after 2013, appeared more shrill; be it on similar cross-Line of Control clashes then, or the prison attacks – that killed Sarabjit Singh there and Sanaullah here. But the fact remains that once the media in India raised the pitch on any India-Pakistan issue, the Pakistani media also appeared compelled to respond in like fashion. And, invariably, in such a scenario, it is not the measured coverage in the Indian media that would find reflection there. What would be magnified there would be the shrillest of Indian coverage; even if it is from a channel that is not particularly watched in India.

— Anita Joshua, former Islamabad Correspondent for The Hindu

Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers patrol over a footbridge built over a stream near the LoC 

Is the Media Just Reflecting the Reality of Indo-Pak Relations?

The Line of Control is one of the most dangerous border areas in the world between two countries who have a long history of tension and conflict. Journalists are given access through security forces and often have only one side of the story.

International news organisations present an interesting counterpoint.

“We have access on both sides of the border and also do not face the same kind of pressure from the establishment that national news outlets face. In that sense, we do have an advantage.

— Shakeel Akhtar of the BBC                                                     -The Quint

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