Media has always been an important parameter in conflicts of every intensity. This essay aims to analyze the Kashmir Dispute based on how it is represented in Indian, Pakistani, and Western media. This study will address the historical background of Kashmir issue first and then cover different media representations of it.
Kashmir Dispute has been on the agenda of the UN since 1948. Pakistan and India went to war twice (1947-1965) and the region is divided into two areas. Pakistan dominates the region in the north and India dominates the region in the south, while the northeast part of the region is under China’s control. The sovereignty of India is never accepted in Kashmir and the people rebel against India from time to time.
The reason why Kashmir issue has not been solved is not based on only religious sensitivities, there are advantages of owning Kashmir for both India and Pakistan. Owning Kashmir means to have the ability of dominating the region. Kashmir is linked to China and Afghanistan, it has geostrategic importance. For agriculture, full control of water resources in the region is critical. In addition, Kashmir is a region that can meet the needs of two nuclear powers in terms of uranium.
The Kashmir Unrest
Although the beginning of the Kashmir conflict between India and Pakistan dates back to 1947, the foundation of the problem goes back when the Amritsar Treaty was signed in 1847.
With the intervention of the United Nations, Article 370 of the Indian Constitution grants autonomy to the Kashmir region of India and prohibits Indian citizens from acquiring immovable property in this region. Thus, the ethnic and religious composition of Kashmir has been preserved. Article 370 was abolished in 2019 with the guidance of the political power in India. A military buildup was carried out to suppress unrest and uprising in the region under India’s control, internet and telephone communications were cut off, arrests were made, a form of martial law was declared.
The 90 percent of the people of Kashmir are Muslims and they favored joining Pakistan in 1947, however the prince of the period decided to unite with India. The people of Kashmir opposed the decision. The parties fought for the first time in 1947, with Pakistan and India sending troops to the region. Wars broke out between the two countries in 1965 and 1999 for the same reason. The bloody clashes still continue in the region.
The Coverage of Kashmir Dispute in Indian Media
“If you read Indian newspapers, you will see nothing but news that spews hatred for Pakistan”, Noam Chomsky said in an interview. Regarding the Kashmir unrest, Chomsky said that Pakistan is portrayed as a precious friend to the USA and that the USA stands by Pakistan.
In the work entitled “Indian Media Coverage of Kashmir: When Stories Clash with National Interest”, Syed Nazakat made evaluations about the killing of children and posed important questions. Indian media have been very slow in reporting this incident. Sports news, political news, even movies were mentioned in the news, but this murder of the children was represented as an exceptional event.
It can be said that, the Indian media could not win the trust of the Kashmiri people. The media did not reflect the suffering of the people of the region, on the contrary, the media labeled the protesters as hooligans.
The Coverage of Kashmir Dispute in Pakistani Media
Pakistani media has portrayed the Kashmir issue more often than Indian media.
Pakistani newspapers so far have published a greater number of news stories, and articles about the Kashmir unrest. Based on a content analysis of leading Pakistan and Indian newspapers, it was revealed that, Pakistani media has highlighted the situation of the Kashmir issue including the reasons for the conflict and the will of Kashmiri people regarding the settlement of dispute. In addition, Pakistani media has been engaged legitimizing the freedom movement in the region (Riaz et. al., 2018)
The Coverage of Kashmir Dispute in Western Media
Generally, it can be said that, from BBC, to Guardian and NY Times, the Western media has criticized Indian government’s Kashmir move. The Western media has often portrayed Kashmir dispute in a way that put the global attention on the suffering of the local people there. For example, The Washington Post published a report alleging that 3,000 people had been detained in Kashmir. In a similar way, a Wall Street Journal news story claimed that hospitals were running low on vital drugs. In addition, BBC called Kashmir as “one of the most militarized zones in the world”.
It is seen that, most of the Indian newspapers reproduce government statements mainly from official sources. They prefer ignoring the human suffering in the region. On the other hand, Pakistani media is mostly dependent on news agencies as they don’t have any reporters in the region. It can be said that the Pakistani media reports aim to attract global attention. It is also to be noted that, there is a lack of fact-checking on the part of Indian and Pakistani media in Kashmir Dispute. Apart from that the Western media generally puts the blame on India and depicts India as an invader.
Dr. Begüm BURAK
- BBC, 2019, “Article 370: India strips disputed Kashmir of special status”, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-49231619, (Reached on 23.09.2020).
- Riaz et. al. 2018, “Kashmir Issue And Pak-Indian Press: Content Analysis Of Leadıng Newspapers”, Available on https://www.ndu.edu.pk/issra/issra_pub/articles/issra-paper/ISSRA_Papers_2nd_Half_2018/04.KASHMIR-ISSUE-AND-PAK-INDIAN.pdf, (Reached on 23.09.2020).
- The Washington Post, 2019, “Among the 3,000 detained by Indian authorities in Kashmir: Children”, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/among-the-3000-detained-by-indian-authorities-in-kashmir-children/2019/08/29/1616b5c0-c91c-11e9-9615-8f1a32962e04_story.html, (Reached on 23.09.2020).