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Pakistan Media Plays Truant, Supports Khalistan Stir


The Economic Times, New Delhi, Feb. 13, 2004

Pakistan may be getting ready to resume dialogue with India, but its state-owned media continues to foment communal hatred here by sympathising with the Khalistan cause, apart from accusing the Vajpayee regime of insincerity in mending bilateral ties. This time, Radio Pakistan, Lahore, has chosen to sow the seeds of suspicion in the minds of Sikhs. In its daily programme Punjabi Darbar last month, Radio Pakistan accused New Delhi of pressuring Sikhs and Muslims to embrace Hinduism. 'While the Indian government claims to be secular and democratic . . . it is pursuing anti-Sikh policies such as settling people from Bihar, U.P. and Rajasthan in Punjab to reduce the percentage of Sikh population there,' it alleged.

The state-owned radio station also accused the Indian government of paying no attention to the menace of drug addiction among the youth of Punjab, diverting the waters of Punjab's rivers to other states even when it faced a water shortage and not setting up any large industry in the state. 'The Indian government is bothered only about tax collection.' Specifically training guns on the R.S.S., the Pakistani channel accused the Sangh of hurting Sikhs' religious sentiments by pronouncing the community as part of Hindu society.

Terming Sikhs as a 'warrior' community, Radio Pakistan asserted that their dream of independence, or Khalistan, would be fulfilled. The program also highlighted the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and alleged that Sikhs in government departments were being harassed. Importantly, the Pakistani radio channel accused the government of making Sikhs a scapegoat during the Kargil war and called upon all Sikh army personnel to support the Kashmiri terrorists in their fight for 'freedom.'

Radio Pakistan did not spare the prime minister either. Accusing Mr. Vajpayee of insincerity, the program alleged that whenever the P.M. talked of peace, his deputy L.K. Advani, immediately delivered a speech vitiating the atmosphere.