How Pakistani dailies reported India’s surgical strikes in PoK, call it farcical

Despite this, the ‘surgical strikes’ dominated the front page of all major English dailies.
How Pakistani dailies reported India’s surgical strikes in PoK, call it farcical
How Pakistani dailies reported India’s surgical strikes in PoK, call it farcical
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A day after India announced that it carried out ‘surgical strikes’ in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), the Pakistani media has largely toed its government line, discrediting the Indian statement.

Almost all major English dailies chose to play down the incident, toeing the line of the Pakistani establishment and dismissing the Indian stand.

Also read: Surgical ops across LoC: What we know so far

Despite this, the ‘surgical strikes’ dominated the front page of all major English dailies with some newspapers going with banner headlines.

With ‘Escalation or brinkmanship at LoC’ as its front page lead headline, the report in Pakistan English daily The Dawn went on to quote Pakistani establishment denying the attack in PoK. The report stated that two Pakistani soldiers died as a result of cross-border firing, and carried the pictures of the two men, while also claiming that 18 Indian soldiers were killed in the same cross-firing. But perhaps more tellingly, The Dawn carried a photograph of Kashmiris allegedly offering funeral prayers in Srinagar for the Pakistani soldiers killed in the firing.

Also read: Soldier inadvertently crossed LoC, report of soldiers killed false: Indian Army

Just below the lead article, the paper carried another piece titled ‘Was it really a surgical strike?’ which quoted a top official of the Pakistani Army media wing saying the ‘surgical operation’ was merely for the consumption of the Indian masses and nothing more than cross-border firing in reality.

However, a retired Pakistan Air Marshal was quoted dismissing the claim of surgical strike, saying it was a violation of the LoC. Another security analyst Hasan Askari was mentioned saying that ‘surgical strikes’ involve the air force while the said incident was a ground offensive.

It was The Dawn’s first-page anchor story, ‘The wages of living by hate’ that is most striking, detailing how even in times of war, there were gentlemanly exchanges, ‘mutual understanding and decency’, between soldiers, as well as journalists of both the countries. The piece speaks about how pro-peace activists of the both countries on repeated occasions have risen above the hostilities to broker normalcy.  

Another English daily, The Express Tribune, chose an aggressive lead, “‘Surgical’ farce blows up in Indian face” with a sub-head reading Indian claim of a ‘surgical strike’ as a ‘fabrication of truth’.

The report described the announcement as a “staged drama of the Narendra Modi administration” to assuage a “media-induced public frenzy” and also termed the attack “farcical”.

The Defence Minister was quoted as saying the terminology was intended to give a “false colour” and to “appease trigger-happy people and media” in India.

The second lead, ‘Strategic analysts laugh off Indian claim’  quoted a retired general dismissing the Indian stand saying, “To say that the Indian forces came, carried out surgical strikes and went back undetected is too good a story to be believed.”

The piece argued that it was unlikely that such “precision-guided operation” took place in the highly militarized zone and also featured top Pakistani bureaucrats criticizing “unprovoked” ceasefire violations.

The Nation carried a banner headline which read, “India fails to sell ‘surgical strike’”. The report said that the Pakistani Army will respond “strongly to any misadventure”. The report quoted the Pakistani army statement which read, “This quest by Indian establishment to create media hype by re-branding cross-border fire as surgical strike is fabrication of truth. Pakistan has made it clear that if there is a surgical strike on Pakistani soil, the same will be strongly responded.”

The paper also carried the news of Indian High Commissioner being summoned for the “ceasefire violation” above the fold alongside the lead.

Below the fold, another story in The Nation titled, ‘PM condemns India’s naked aggression’  reported how Nawaz Sharif was satisfied with the preparedness of the Pakistan Armed Forces after he was briefed by Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif.

The News in its first lead termed surgical strikes as an “Indian delusion” and claimed eight Indian soldiers were killed along with two Pakistani soldiers in the cross-fire. The piece quoted Pakistani authorities as saying that the incident was a “media gimmick” and was intended to divert attention from “brutalities’ in Jammu and Kashmir”.

The other news stories on the front page had the Pakistani army chief stating that their forces were ready to face any aggression and how US and the United Nations urged both the nations to show restraint.

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