India dominated the Pakistani media on Thursday as newspapers and TV channels covered both New Delhi’s decision not to attend the Saarc Summit and a meeting of top military and civilian leaders in Islamabad where a commitment was made not to give in to Indian threats.
The influential daily Dawn, in a front page report on the meeting of the civil and military leaders chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, said that undeterred by Indian threats, the top leadership on Wednesday vowed to continue support for the Kashmiris’ struggle and pointed to the “restraint” shown by Pakistan in the face of recent Indian provocations.
“Pakistan will continue to extend its moral and diplomatic support to Kashmiris until the issue of Kashmir is resolved as per aspirations of Kashmiri people,” Sharif said while presiding over the meeting. He said Indian “atrocities” on Kashmiris would not be tolerated. The meeting was attended by the army chief as well.
In another front page report headlined “More states join India to wreck Saarc summit”, the Dawn said India’s move to isolate Pakistan at multilateral forums was launched before the terror attack in Uri.
The daily Express Tribune led with India’s decision to pull out of the SAARC summit. The paper reported that India’s irrational anger and divisive regional strategy has all but killed the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc).
The Tribune reported that the summit of the key regional forum was unofficially postponed after New Delhi pulled out in a frantic move to isolate Pakistan politically and economically in the aftermath of the Uri assault.
According to the charter of Saarc, which brings together eight member states of the region, the summit is postponed should any member state decline to participate. The Tribune reported that this is exactly what Sartaj Aziz, the Prime Minister's top foreign policy aide, said. “Even if one member pulls out, the conference cannot go on as per schedule,” he told a news channel.
The decision by India was also covered by most Urdu papers, including Daily Jang, Express and Nawa-i-Waqt. The issue was also hotly debated on news channels.
Anchor Farrukh Pittafi of Pakistan Television commented that the move “showed the spite with which India was operating”. Pitafi said India was deliberately trying to avoid dialogue. Other commentators on TV channels also condemned the Indian move.
In his column, Talat Masood, a retired general and leading defence analyst, wrote in the Tribune that “(Prime Minister Narendra) Modi is going all out to exploit Pakistan’s soiled international image as a breeding ground of terrorism”.
This was not a sentiment most Pakistani commentators shared. Analyst Ejaz Haider commented on Capital TV that India was deliberately sabotaging Pakistan’s attempts at conciliatory efforts at bringing all Saarc nations on the table.
Radio Pakistan on Thursday tweeted a remark by foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz that the Saarc Summit was postponed four times in the past due to Indian refusal.
Political commentator Abid Husain, in a tweet, said: “Guess it’s time we all pull the plug on SAARC. Possibly the single most useless multi-nation organisation, and that’s saying something.”