View From The Neighbourhood: War and lies

View From The Neighbourhood: War and lies

A weekly look at the public conversations shaping ideas beyond borders — in the Subcontinent.

India pakistan, India pakistan tension, Imran khan, balakot air strikes, pulwama attack, Pakistan F-16, Indian express
Dawn’s editorial on April 7, “the truth is often lost as propaganda is trotted out by the belligerents to confuse and demoralise their opponent.”

“AMIDST the fog of war,” begins Dawn’s editorial on April 7, “the truth is often lost as propaganda is trotted out by the belligerents to confuse and demoralise their opponent.” The editorial talks of the “particularly vitriolic” role the media played in whipping up jingoism and “war hysteria” in both India and Pakistan.

In the context of misinformation during the post-Pulwama crisis a report in the US publication, Foreign Policy, is brought up by the editorial: “Basing this claim on sources within the US defence establishment, the publication has said that all of Pakistan’s F-16s were “present and accounted for”. This admission should be sobering for the ultranationalist hawks in the Indian establishment as well as elements within the Indian media. It shows jingoism and war hysteria cannot always cover up the facts, which often emerge sooner or later.”

The editorial, however, does not tom-tom the report and accuse India of spreading lies, etc. It does draw lessons from it: “Perhaps the lesson to be learnt from the whole post-Pulwama crisis in general, and the tale of the F-16 in particular, is that when disinformation is spread and promoted in such a toxic manner, it feeds into the larger narrative and ends up vitiating the atmosphere. This can have grave consequences, such as dragging two nuclear-armed states close to war. Moreover, when disinformation becomes the norm, even after the crisis abates, the road towards normalisation is all the more difficult. The war clouds may have dissipated over South Asia for the moment, but the mistrust between India and Pakistan currently is at extremely high levels.”

Nepal and citizenship

In Nepal, like in India, citizenship, its acquisition and the legal provisions around it seem to be a matter of much debate and contention. According to the April 5 editorial in The Himalayan Times, “Citizenship has always been a highly complicated issue in the country. People who have migrated to Nepal and have been living here permanently for many years find it hard to obtain citizenship due to the complicated legal provisions. The new constitution, promulgated in 2015, has clearly stated that no citizen shall be deprived of Nepali citizenship. It means all people living in Nepal have the right to acquire citizenship paper. However, the Federal Parliament, which is the sole authority to make a law on this issue, is taking much time to make the first amendment to the Citizenship Act.”


Because of the gaping legal lacunae still unaddressed by the government, “thousands of bona fide Nepali children born to parents who had obtained Nepali citizenship by birth have been deprived of the official paper essential to get enrolled in college, open a bank account, get employment, purchase land or enjoy the government services they are entitled to.”

Currently, notifications by the home ministry of Nepal provide some succour. But now, according to the editorial, “the Supreme Court had also told the ministry not to execute it until a law to this effect was enacted. Hence, this circular will not wholly address the hardships faced by those children due to the absence of a law in line with the constitutional provision. The Federal Parliament must enact the law at the earliest to see that those people can acquire citizenship without any legal hurdles.”

Bangladesh rising

The editorial in The Dhaka Tribune on April 4 asserts, in a somewhat patriotic manner, that “the number don’t lie”. Bangladesh’s “Bangladesh’s economic growth in these last few years have shown tremendous dynamism, and we could be well on our way to becoming a powerhouse of Asia. In its latest economic report, Manila-based Asian Development Bank has assessed Bangladesh to be the fastest growing economy in the Asia-Pacific region, forecasting a robust 8% GDP growth rate for the current fiscal year,” it says.

However, the editorial warns against complacency and exhorts the government and other economic actors to “keep their eye on the ball”. Its advice is: “Our growth is largely attributable to strong private consumption as well as public investment in infrastructural projects, and it is important that these large-scale projects are seen through to completion without unnecessary delays. Diversifying our export basket further will increase the resilience of our exporting sector, which has been reliant mostly on our high-performing ready-made garments industry; and we should be branching out and looking more closely to the potential of leather, jute, IT, electronic goods, and other products. This comes hand in hand with training in the right skills, because Bangladesh is a country with a very large youth population, and in order to remain competitive as the world moves into a technology-based future, the government must invest in a forward-thinking, future-oriented education.”

A weekly look at the public conversations shaping ideas beyond borders — in the Subcontinent. Curated by Aakash Joshi