Media houses in Pakistan gave extensive coverage to the other side of an action packed Sunday at the NRG stadium in Houston. The Pakistani media claimed the event was marred with protest by Pakistani, Sikhs and other human rights bodies even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump displayed their new-found bonhomie at Houston.
“As I walked towards the venue, it was still dark outside, but activists from various groups were itching for a signal to start marching towards the NRG Stadium,” Sarah Eleazar of The Dawn wrote in her piece.
Eleazar spoke to Raja Muzafar of the Kashmir Global Council who alleged “the voice of Kashmir has been throttled because of the media ban. There’s no access to life-saving medicine or even food.”
During his speech, Modi defended his government’s move to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, while also firmly reiterating his strong stand against terrorism. He reminded that the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks in the US and the 26/11 Mumbai attacks were both found in the same country.
His statement on terror emanating out of Pakistan came after the US President said that he was committed to saving innocent lives from “radical Islamist terrorism”.
Besides the big display of bonhomie between the two leaders, The News, another prominent English language daily in Pakistan, covered the “anti-Modi” protests outside the stadium.
“The march, which started from Sikh National Centre in Houston, culminated at the NRG Stadium — the venue of the Indian premier’s public gathering. The protesters made their presence felt with a dress rehearsal along with tractors and trailer trucks decorated with flags and protest slogans,” read the report.
Sunita Viswanath, co-founder of Hindus for Human Rights, told The News that she is “horrified that our religion which teaches vasudaiva kutumbakam is being hijacked by extremists and nationalists which are lynching Muslims, trampling on democracy and law and order, and arresting if not murdering those who are speaking out”.
“We are especially appalled by the most recent nightmare of the Kashmiri people, and the situation of 1.9 million people in India who are rendered stateless due to the imposition of the travesty called the National Register of Citizens,” she added.
According to a report by The Tribune, a Pakistani newspaper, around 50 buses were used to transport upto 40,000 people to the protest site, who took part in the demonstration. “The expenses for the protest are being borne by generous members of the Pakistani diaspora and strict security measures have been taken to ensure safety for all,” it said.
However, in a lesser known development, The News on Sunday also covered Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s plea to humanitarian organisations to seek access to the besieged Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir for an on-the-spot study of the situation.
Following Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s meetings with the heads of London-based Amnesty International and the Red Cross, Qureshi stated that visiting conflict zones were part of their mandate. “We have nothing to hide,” he said.
The News in its coverage described the situation in Kashmir as: “India annexed the held Kashmir illegally on August 5, unleashing a reign of terror against protesting Kashmiris, filling up jails in Kashmir and transporting many more by military planes to a number of cities across India, holding them incommunicado.”
Prime Minister Imran Khan will attend the UN General Assembly session as an ambassador of Kashmir, added Qureshi.