Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan knocked off the India-Pakistan tensions as the main story on the front pages of Pakistani dailies after almost a week as the media focussed on his new campaign against the government.
Khan’s threat to shut down the capital after Muharram received more space in the newspapers on Saturday when compared to India and the LoC ceasefire violations.
The media also reported that Khan brought up the India-Pakistan standoff during his speech at a rally in Lahore on Friday. Khan said wars were not the solution to problems between the two countries and even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had agreed during a meeting with him that the two sides need to work together for peace.
Khan said Modi had disappointed people with his politics but he should remember that all Pakistanis are not “cowards like Nawaz Sharif” and knew how to respond to threats.
At the same time, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s statement at a cabinet meeting to assess the situation on the Line of Control was covered on the front page of The Express Tribune with the headline: “No one dare cast an evil eye on Pakistan.”
The Urdu Express newspaper headlined its report “India will not be allowed to create regional chaos”.
The News daily, on the other hand, used the headline “Pakistan capable of carrying out surgical strikes” for its report on the cabinet meeting.
During the meeting, Sharif played down the surgical strikes by India across the LoC and sought to focus on the Kashmir issue.
Both newspapers and TV news channels, however, continued to focus on the India-Pakistan tensions.
Capital TV held a series of interviews with MPs who gave their views on issues such as “what we would do if India attacks” and “what should we do if India stops our waters”. One lawmaker from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa said Pakistan should “teach India a lesson before that happens”.
ARY News channel said it had exclusive footage of the Indian soldier caught after he strayed across the LoC. Pakistan has not said what it will do with the soldier.
Most channels also aired footage that they said showed “bodies of Indian soldiers” lying unclaimed on the LoC.
India has dismissed these reports about casualties during the strikes and the footage was doctored.
Social media too was abuzz with the story of how India “does not care” about its soldiers. #surgicalstrikes became a social media trend in Pakistan, where it was applied by witty users to everything. One tweet used it to talk about the cooking abilities of a popular cooking show host.
Imran Khan’s description of Prime Minister Modi as a “prejudiced extremist” at his rally on Friday was retweeted and shared by many users.