Barkha Dutt, Pakistan and a Couple of Twitter Conversations

Twitter is a truly democratic mode of communication.  Relevant conversations between two individuals can be ‘heard’ by many, many people. Sometimes, it gives an opportunity for some to participate in the conversation, which can give a different perspective or nuance to the two main persons, and make issues clearer for others.

Recently, Pakistan has agreed to open a corridor to Kartarpur which is about 4.5 kms from the international border with Bharat. In this city there is a gurudwara which is associated with the last days of Guru Govind Singh, and hence has special emotional connect to many Bharatiyas, in particular with the Sikhs.

Barkha Dutt was one of the few journalists that were hand-picked by the Pakistani High Commission in Delhi, to come and witness the ceremony to start the work for the corridor.  The list had the approval of the Pakistani government which has been installed in Islamabad by the Pakistani military through a make-believe election process.

She chose to use the event to once again push the case of Pakistan with respect to diplomatic ties with Bharat. This relationship has been stressed ever since the two countries got independence in 1947, due to an anti-Bharat agenda of not just the Pakistani military, but many civilian (political and non-political) leaders. Barkha Dutt pretends to believe that Bharat is as much to blame, if not more, for the fraught relationship.

Barkha Dutt has used her position as a commentator for Washington Post to make her case, and she tweeted:

Just as her tweet indicates, Barkha Dutt goes all over the place in her article, and ends up with a sort of face-palm type of situation. Dutt has admitted what many in Pakistan have said: that Imran Khan would not have been the prime minister if the Pakistan army had not actively participated in the last national election.

She also acknowledged that the Pakistan government and the army have used the event at Kartarpur to score a political point, and not as a step towards trying to have peaceful relations with Bharat. The Bharatiya government had understood this, and had treated the event as a stand-alone happening, which had real sentimental value for the people of Bharat, especially the Sikhs. But this does not fit in well in the agenda of Dutt.  

A shrewder person would have realised that it is best not to have written such an article, which actually has done more harm for Dutt’s agenda than her silence would have. But Barkha Dutt has been allowed to get away with her chicanery by her peer group for so long that she genuinely feels that people at large do not see through her.

It has often been said that a country has an army, but Pakistan is an exception where the army has a country.  The ‘advise’ to Bharat that its civilian government should bypass the Pakistan’s civilian government and talk directly to the army has been made time and time again. Other countries have actually heeded to similar advice to them, with no perceptible positive results.

In fact it can be said that this method has actually emboldened the army which has frequently ensured that if the civilian government goes wayward (according the assessment of the army), it is brought back to the track that the army wants. This is best explained in what Atal Bihari Vajpayee said in Kathmandu in January 2002, in response to the infamous handshake:

I am glad that President Musharraf extended a hand of friendship to me. I have shaken his hand in your presence. Now President Musharraf must follow its gesture by not permitting any activity in Pakistan or any territory under its control which enables terrorists to perpetuate mindless violence in India. I say this because of our past experience. I went to Lahore with a hand of friendship. We were rewarded with aggression in Kargil and the hijacking of an Indian Airlines aircraft. I invited President Musharraf to Agra. We were rewarded with a terrorist attack on the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly and, last month, on the Parliament of India.

Conversation with Husain Haqqani

Probably the best response to Barkha Dutt’s inanity was given by Husain Haqqani, an academic, who was also the Pakistani ambassador to the USA between 2008 and 2011.  He tweeted:

Effectively, in the best diplomatic language, Haqqani said that the article should be sent straight to the thrash can!  But Dutt cannot let go of her agenda, and within a minute she tweeted:

It is good that Haqqani not to allow this inanity to stand uncontested:

Instead of seriously dwelling on what Haqqani has said, Dutt, within three minutes, tried to use a strategy of authority by association:

But how many is ‘so many’?  Is it the rule or the exception?  Do they represent the official policy of the elected government, or is it their own attempt to try and play Machiavellian games which are only for fun when it comes to the next diplomatic social gathering?  Anyway, Haqqani gives a nice lesson to Dutt on what diplomats like to do:

Given some other tweets in different conversations, it would appear to me that Dutt wants not to be taught.

Conversation with Mohandas Pai

To understand Barkha Dutt’s mindset, there is a need to look at another conversation that she had with respect to her article. It was held earlier to the above Haqqani conversation.

What Mohandas Pai said is essentially similar to what Haqqani said. Pai explained, Haqqani was cryptic. However, in this case, Dutt’s aggressive nature came to the fore:

On what basis does Dutt accuse Pai of not reading her article.  He is quite active on the social media, and also speaks at different forums. From what I know of him, he is quite knowledgeable on things he writes. However, reading Dutt’s tweet, one has to ask if she really read Pai’s tweet?  Issue is whether Imran Khan is to be trusted, and not whether Khan is on the same page as the Pakistan army. Given what Vajpayee had said in Kathmandu in 2002, the Paksitan army has proved itself to be a most untrustworthy institution.  

Anyone would be cut up with the most impolite remark by Dutt. Pai is no exception:

Pai’s comment (If Pak army wants peace they will work with any PM to make it happen…) is pertinent, and does expose Dutt for not thinking it through.  Perhaps she did realise that she SHOULD have thought it through. Instead of admitting, she gets angry and introduces unrelated issues:

As I had said at the beginning there are others who are ‘listening in’ to the conversation.  So this anger could not go unchallenged. To ensure that Dutt’s plan to create confusion does not succeed, Pai tweeted:

Dutt is famous for her inanity and stubbornness (bordering on pig-headedness).  Internet Hindus have exposed her time and time again. It is a pity that The Washington Post has not done sufficient due diligence on her competency before appointed her as an opinion writer to inform its readers about issues relating to Bharat.

On Imran Khan

Imran Khan’s ability on the cricket field is well recognised. However, skills in one profession do not always get transferred to another unrelated profession.  As a politician, he is known to pander to the Islamists, and is quite comfortable to be in bed (figuratively speaking) with them to succeed in the electoral politics arena.  Nearly five years ago, he had tweeted:

Many of his countrymen and contury-women had panned this tweet.  An informed commentator from Pakistan tweeted:

Journalists have a duty to perform to their readers, since the latter expect them to have spent time and energy to study issues in proper depth.  However, agenda-driven journalism being expressed in outlets that project themselves as unbiased, a great disservice is done to the journalistic profession.

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About the Author

Ashok Chowgule
Working President (External), Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bharat.