Just a few months ago, after the hideous attack on CRPF jawans in Pulwama, Indian news channels were bursting with rage over the support to terrorism provided by Pakistan and sternly demanding the Indian government to take action against them. The level of outrage felt all around the country was communicated in no unclear terms by television anchors who ranted against the state-assisted terror network based in Pakistan and blared into their microphones, 'enough is enough.'
But as soon as the India vs Pakistan match in the ICC 2019 Cricket World Cup came around, it seems like all hostility has been forgotten and normal service has resumed among the former players of the two teams and even the media houses of the two nations.
Sudden spurt of friendly chats
Shoaib Akhtar invited Harbhajan Singh and Virender Sehwag on his YouTube show and had very pleasant discussions with him over the ongoing World Cup. Even the Indian news channels have forgotten their animosity to Pakistan and are having joint broadcasts with Pakistani channels to analyse the much-anticipated game. Far from any ill-feeling, there seems to be a mood of joviality in these interactions.
But something rather strange has taken place which needs to be questioned. As we know, there are a couple of English news channels in India – Times Now and Republic TV – which have always positioned themselves as more 'nationalist' than others. While they are also accused of being blatantly biased in favour of the BJP, a charge which they refute, they make no bones about their nationalist credentials. The sight of Pakistani guests being shouted and screamed at on these networks is incredibly common.
But one of these channels, Times Now, has taken a step which should raise questions about the authenticity of their claims. It is also having a joint broadcast with a Pakistani channel – Hum News – on the occasion of India-Pakistan World Cup encounter. However, one of the analysts sitting in the Pakistan studio and proffering his opinions is Javed Miandad.
Now, Miandad is one of the greatest batsman Pakistan has even produced and was a leading player of his time. However, he also happens to be the samdhi of Dawood Ibrahim, India's most wanted terrorist and the man behind the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts, as well as the financier of various anti-India terrorist organisations. Dawood has been living comfortably in Karachi for a long time while his host country continues to deny his presence.
So, here is a question for Times Now: How justified is it to have the samdhi of Dawood on your show, albeit in the studio of a different channel? Now, nobody is ascribing the sins of Dawood to Miandad because his son is married to the underworld don's daughter. But the very fact that he is happily part of this relationship doesn't reflect well on the character of the Pakistani legend.
This is not the first time that Miandad has been given a special treatment on Indian television. Before the two teams clashed in the 2015 World Cup, NDTV had a similar joint broadcast with a Pakistani channel and it too had Miandad on the show. What was more galling was NDTV having Indian legend Sunil Gavaskar on their side and him interacting in a cordial way with Miandad.
Indian channels have to ask whether they will only hyper-ventilate at the death of our soldiers and then, hypocritically, entertain a close relative of the most wanted terrorist of India. While boycotting all Pakistanis may be a step too far and also unjustified, having a jovial conversation with the samdhi of a man who has the blood of hundreds of Indians on his hands is morally questionable, if not downright odious.