Pandits Tell Pak Journalists That Islamabad Is To Blame
4 October 2004
The Asian Age
Srinagar: Pakistani journalists, who are on a week-long tour of Jammu and Kashmir, faced a hostile crowd of Kashmiri pandit expatriates on Monday at a Jammu migrant camp, who held Islamabad responsible for their miseries. 'It is the guns and bombs sent in and the terrorists abetted by Pakistan that have driven us out of our hearth and homes and are responsible for the conditions we are living in,' they complained to the Pakistani journalists at Muthi camp. They also accused the Pakistani media of remaining silent on their mass exodus from the Valley fifteen years ago whereas it chose to overplay the Gujarat incidents two years ago. However, they hoped that the Pakistani journalists would now write objectively on their plight, 'exactly the way their Indian counterparts did on the sufferings of Muslims and others during the Gujarat disturbances.' The Pakistani journalists assured the people they would stick to their professional values and would report on the situation as it is. Earlier on Saturday night, the 18-member Pakistani delegation head Imtiaz Alam told reporters in Jammu, 'We are here not to create history but to write about it.' Apparently responding to criticism from certain quarters, he assured, 'We are agents of free flow of information and not of anybody. We'll attentively see the situation and assess it and then write about it.' Ajay Chrungoo, leader of Panun Kashmir, an organisation of Pandit expatriates, told reporters later that if the visiting Pakistani journalists want to know about the truth in Kashmir they should try to study the plight of the pandits and the circumstances that led to their migration. Mr Alam, who is the secretary-general of the Pakistani Chapter of South Asian Free Media Association (Safma), however, admitted, 'Till now, we were filing one- sided reports from the other side of the border. Now we hope to gain a wider perspective of events.' The visiting journalists also held discussions with the leaders and representatives of various political parties and the Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The BJP leaders, party sources said, were deadly opposed to the idea of reopening Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road asserting the conditions were not conducive for such an initiative. In contrast, they insisted, the reopening of this road would only help the militants to give a boost to their violent activities. On Monday, all-women outfit Dukhtaran-e- Millat strongly opposed the visit alleging it is intended to further President Pervez Musharraf's agenda on Kashmir, which, it insisted, has been worked out in the US. Outfit leader Aasiya Andrabi accused Gen. Musharraf of preparing for a sellout on Kashmir.