Pakistan’s decision to take the Kashmir issue to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) dominated prime time, with channels asking, “Has Pakistan completely run out of options on Kashmir?” (CNN-News 18) and even declaring it a “Showdown at UNHRC” (India Today).
NDTV 24×7: On ‘Reality Check’, anchor Sreenivasan Jain asked a more moderate question on restrictions in Kashmir: “Should India be concerned about the growing noise coming from the US?”
Columnist Seema Sirohi said, “It should. The longer it takes for curfew to be lifted, the more the pressure grows. People in the state department or in the US Congress are getting worried that this has gone on for too long.”
Sadanand Dhume, American Enterprise Institute Fellow, said that even though India had the “upper hand” in this “kabaddi match between India and Pakistan,” Sirohi had a point: “There is a battle of perception which India is losing.”
Former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal, however, said, “America has destroyed whole societies in Syria and Libya. Who is the US to lecture us on democracy?”
To this, former diplomat K.C. Singh said, “You are talking about what the US has been doing abroad. What we have is an internal issue.”
Republic TV: The channel’s choice of hashtags such as ‘#PakistanBeatenAtUN’ and ‘#PakPlusTukde’ drew flak from panelists Irfa Jan, a Kashmiri columnist, and Sanjeev Srivastava, a journalist, who called it a “poor” choice.
Anchor Arnab Goswami, however, paid little attention to them and discussed how India “thrashed” Pakistan as it took the Kashmir issue to an international platform yet again.
On the abrogation of Article 370, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra asked, “Was Article 370 not against women rights, Dalit rights? Why is it that so-called liberals were against women?”
Srivastava said the government had abrogated it “in its wisdom” and that he supported the decision. “I have even supported the clampdown on internet because the choice is between separatists and citizens using it.”
Aaj Tak: On ‘Dangal’, panelists dwelled on human rights issues in Pakistan in the context of their foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s statement, claiming J&K was part of Pakistan.
BJP’s Shahnawaz Hussain said, “No matter where they raise this issue, it is well known who is actually violating human rights.”
Activist Amit Raina of ‘Roots in Kashmir’ agreed: “ They (Pakistan) lay dead bodies of our people in Kashmir as well as their own in Pakistan. If somebody should raise matters of human rights violations in the United Nations, that should be Bangladesh first.”
Major General (retired) Bishembher Dayal said, “In the past 70 years, the world knows how Pakistan Army and ISI have ruled the country mercilessly. They have misguided their own kids and sent them to the Taliban and to jihadi groups to die.”
NDTV India: ‘Prime Time with Nagma’ also discussed Qureshi’s statement and India’s response to it.
Former additional secretary Jayadeva Ranade called India’s response “dignified,” adding, “It’s ironic how Pakistan is not raising the issue of how China is treating its Muslims in concentration camps and how in their own country, thousands of people are jailed due to blasphemy laws.”
Foreign policy analyst Manoj Joshi said, “If the Kashmir dispute is being raised in Geneva, there is no doubt that the issue has been internationalised. The human rights violation cannot be ignored,” but he added, “Pakistan clearly has no rights to raise this issue internationally.”
Ashok Sajjanhar, former ambassador, differed: “If Pakistan has raised the issue, then the talk will happen. But it does not mean that the issue has been internationalised.”
“Pakistan desperately wants a third-party mediation. India should stay alert,” he said.
India’s counter to Pakistan at the UNHRC in Geneva is the top story of Wednesday along with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s remarks, blaming ‘Uber, Ola’ mindset for slowdown in the automobile sector.
On India-Pakistan, Express headlines: “Pak using UN forum for malicious agenda: India”, Hindustan Times says, “Pak’s J&K pitch a ploy to push terrorism: India”, The Times of India reports: “India at UN: J&K internal issue, won’t accept any interference”, and The Hindu is direct: “India counters Pak statements on J&K at UN rights meet”.
After Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi “demanded an international investigation into situation in Kashmir”, India “outlined its position through a statement by secretary” Vijay Thakur Singh and “a right of reply by junior diplomat Vimarsh Aryan”, says HT.
India “declared” that Pakistan “was trying to polarise the UNHRC to advance its agenda in South Asia,” says Hindu. An Indian diplomat “shed light on the contradiction between Pakistan’s attempt to champion human rights” in J&K, it says.
Express mentions that New Delhi “hit out at” Islamabad “for misusing the platform for malicious political agendas under the garb of human rights”.
TOI, on the other hand, is provocative in its report. It says that “in a high-wattage clash”, India “accused” Pakistan “of using cross-border terrorism as a form of ‘alternate diplomacy’ while saying that the recent decisions on J&K was its internal affairs and it would brook no interference”.
Nirmala Sitharaman: According to HT’s second lead, the government may “exempt certain businesses” from the “2% tax deducted at source (TDS) levied on cash withdrawal of over Rs 1 crore annually”. It notes that the “levy introduced in this year’s budget to discourage cash transactions” will “become applicable from September 1”.
Express highlights Sitharaman’s remarks on the slowdown in auto sales — they can “be traced back to a number of factors,” including the “transition to Bharat Stage VI emission norms, higher registration fees and studies that point to millennials not wanting to commit to EMIs to buy a vehicle and instead preferring cab and Metro services”.
J&K polls: Hindu’s lead story says that the “schedule for the elections to 316 Block Development Councils (BDCs)” in Jammu and Kashmir “will be announced in a day or two, with the polls to be completed before the state is formally declared a Union Territory on October 31”.
HT’s lead on one of its front-page flaps and TOI’s second lead is Gujarat reducing fines on traffic offences. HT writes that Gujarat “reduced fines on 17 trafffic offences, becoming the first state to dilute tough new penalties that have triggered public anger and a clamour for a roll-back in several Indian states”.
Front pages also feature photographs of Archbishop of Canterbury Reverend Justin Welby paying tribute at the Jallianwala Bagh memorial in Amritsar, Punjab. TOI quotes him, saying, “It is deeply humbling and provokes feelings of profound shame to visit this place.”
HT: In ‘Why restoring degraded land is critical for India’, the newspaper supports Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plans of restoring 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030, which he announced at the 14th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification Tuesday.
HT claims that if India wants to “protect its crucial investments (in infrastructure), it needs to tackle climate change”. Roads, bridges and other structures are often damaged by excessive rainfall or floods accentuated by climate change, points out HT.
Deforestation, overgrazing, unsustainable land-use practices, expansion of agricultural, industrial and urban areas have also contributed to land degradation. Tackling land degradation will “improve livelihood opportunities” for the rural poor involved in agriculture and related activities, it says.
TOI: The paper discusses BJP and Shiv Sena’s “uneasy relationship” as Maharashtra assembly polls near. In ‘Maha Battle Begins’, it says the “two partners who first bonded over Hindutva” may not see eye to eye given BJP’s push for contesting a majority of seats and repeating its 2014 victory, in which it had won 122 seats against Shiv Sena’s 63. The two “quickly stitched up an alliance” during the Lok Sabha elections in May but this may not be the case now.
BJP’s Hindu nationalistic angle seems to work better than Shiv Sena’s “Marathi manoos” identity, writes TOI, and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has also helped the BJP “hardline Hindutva positions” on matters like Maratha reservation and farm distress.
TOI predicts that BJP will try to win over “strongmen” from NCP and Congress, a weak opposition duo that has been facing trouble within their own ranks, but it will also have to watch out for the likes of Prakash Ambedkar riding on identity politics.
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