Indian journalists decry misinformation about ‘civil war’ in Pakistan’s largest city
Indian mainstream and social media claimed this week a civil war had broken out in the Pakistani port city of Karachi. Journalists say Indian media want to create an impression that Pakistan has become very unstable and chaotic.
Indian journalists decried a “garbage fake news” wave that earlier this week came from some of the country’s media outlets which published reports of “a civil war-like” situation in Pakistan’s largest city.
Earlier this week, several Indian media outlets, including News18, India Today, Zee News, reported that clashes took place between the Pakistani police and army in Pakistan’s seaside metropolis of Karachi in the wake of opposition protests.
The fake Indian reports came a day after an inquiry was ordered by the Pakistani army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, into the circumstances surrounding the police arrest of opposition leader Mohammad Safdar in Karachi.
“It is not a fake news it is garbage fake news because there is certainly a problem in Pakistan but to exaggerate it to the point of falsification is the height of the irresponsibility,” Mumbai-based activist and columnist Sudheendra Kulkarni told Arab News.
“The Indian media wants to create an impression that Pakistan has become very unstable and chaotic with some fake news and some fake photograph,” he said.
“On the one hand we call ourselves the world’s largest democracy, but it’s a democracy that feeds on the hatred for its neighbor. It reflects poorly on Indian media and India as a nation. I strongly condemn it.”
Senior Indian journalists admit they are confused how the hoax outbreak could even take place and why.
“I am not sure how Indian media spreading fake news about the happenings in Pakistan would help Indian government,” Sanjay Kapoor, editor of the English-language fortnightly Hard News, said.
“I am not sure India would benefit from this. Pandering to fake news reflects on all media, wherever they are located. It shows poorly on their professionalism.”
“At the time of tension, truth is casualty on both sides. Editors should be mindful everywhere that they do not succumb to propaganda. Media should do its job- reporting truth and speaking truth to power,” Kapoor said.
Ties between Pakistan and India have been particularly tense since August last year when New Delhi revoked the special autonomy of the disputed Kashmir region it governs. The Muslim-majority territory has been the site of decades of hostility between the two nuclear archrivals, who both claim the region in full but rule in part.
“When there is a trust deficit, when there is no dialogue, when there is no political outreach, such exaggeration of news is possible,” Jatin Desai from Mumbai-based Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy told Arab News.
The younger social media-savvy generation is not surprised that Indian media are peddling misinformation about Pakistan.
“If you look at the reporting on Pakistan in Indian media you will find that the domestic media is trying to portray the Islamic nation in a very negative way all the time,” University of Delhi student Siddhant Sarang said.
“I am not surprised if the Indian media went overboard in its recent report on the political turmoil in Pakistan.”
Arab News reached out to some of the news outlets that published the fake reports, but none of them responded.