The last week saw considerable international interest in matters India with ‘foreign bodies’ such as the Pulitzer taking a hand in “needling” India, giving credence to claims of the decades old ‘foreign hand’ trying to hijack the Indian narrative with unsubtle interventions generally strengthening the view that it requires an Indira Gandhi at the helm to effectively deal with these interlopers. And, if there is one Nehru-Gandhi family member Prime Minister Narendra Modi genuinely respects and holds in high esteem, it is Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi.

Now, Pulitzer bestowing Pulitzer on three ‘Kashmiri’ photojournalists is Pulitzer’s prerogative and nobody should be hurt one way or the other. But the citation read out with the Pulitzer was not befitting a king. And Pulitzer considers itself a king, no less, in matters accuracy and authenticity. More so, because it rewards fact-based journalism not fake journalists peddling false narratives. Pulitzer should have correctly checked the status of Kashmir as it exists today and then penned its citation. The part of “revoking Kashmir’s independence” in the citation was hilarious if it wasn’t such a big peddled lie.

Pulitzer hasn’t stepped forward and corrected its mistake. Like umpteen other western agencies, Pulitzer too has left matters such as this to correct themselves. The three ‘Kashmiri’ photojournalists need not worry themselves sick for having accepted the flawed citation along with the Pulitzer which they got for putting India on the block! That said, one thing going for the Modi Government is that it has gotten used to getting slandered in the western media. There’s nothing left that the Washington Post, the New York Times and The Guardian can throw at Modi and his administration. In any case, it won’t be rosewater, forget it.
If it hasn’t been noticed the Covid-19 pandemic has been accompanied in the Indian context by a corresponding and exponential increase in hype and hypocrisy over Kashmir. In Pakistan, which has a penchant to brush aside charges of involvement in cross-border terrorism, there’s growing talk of India planning to “invade Azad Kashmir” and “Modi Jo Kahta Hai Kar Ke Dikhata Hai.” It’s serious talk, these noting hogging airtime in Pak media. Things are happening up northwest where India, Pakistan and China’s interests meet and conflict. The sudden spurt in Pak-sponsored terrorism and India promising to “avenge” the killings of “her heroes” are all raising temperature. It could get worse than Covid-19!

On top of these gripping tensions come Pakistan’s plans for the illegally-occupied Gilgit-Baltistan. Pakistan wants to “annex” G&B and it’s trying to do it in a legally mothproof manner, using its Supreme Court. This has naturally not gone down well with India and Pakistan stands duly warned, told to divest from committing hara-kiri. If Pakistan goes ahead and implements its G&B plan, India will be forced to intervene and so will China because of the CPEC, which cuts across G&B. Post-Covid-19 the rotten smell of coronavirus and confrontation is everywhere, with the US and China panting to wasting each other on the high seas and in trade wars.
Obviously, India and Pakistan will not be able to stand as indifferent observers. United States and Australia consider India part of the ‘Allies-against-China’ with shared strategic interests. Pakistanis at primetime on Pakistani television news channels believe all-weather friend China is far too ahead of the United States in these times of the coronavirus and India will get a bloody nose. “It’s time to strengthen our claim on Azad Kashmir and take over ‘Makbhuja (occupied) Kashmir’,” declared Mona Alam – a PTV presenter who frequently appears as a “guest” on Indian TV news channels. It’s unlikely, however, that she will get the Pulitzer for the bold assertion. For that she’ll need a whole new resume!

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