Modi at Bishkek
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's arrival in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan | File photo: ANIPix
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Prime Time

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan for the SCO summit gave TV channels at prime time a chance to look outside India for debating points.

Times Now: Anchor Navika Kumar said Pakistan is feeling the pinch of Modi’s diplomacy in “Modi Sarkar 2.0 plus power push 2”.

Political commentator Tehseen Pooonawala disagreed vehemently: “India’s future has to be a collective measure of his ministers because Modi’s diplomacy has been a complete failure.”

Political analyst from Pakistan, Majid Hyderi, suggested that the new Pakistan PM Imran Khan should be given a chance to rebuild the ties. “Imran Khan deserves a chance,” he said.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra didn’t bother to hide his admiration for Modi: “Today, India is emerging because of strong diplomacy of PM Modi”.

India Today: It was the same setting on India Today.

Political analyst Sudheendra Kulkarni said that if the Indian and Pakistan prime ministers did not shake hands at the summit, it would “defeat the purpose of the summit itself”.

Pakistani political analyst Qamar Cheema was concerned by the lack of substantive discussions in the past: “Since both countries (India and Pakistan) did not speak for 13 years, how will we start the talks?” he asked.

Republic TV: There was a heated debate on the PM’s visit to Bishkek. Arnab Goswami sought to project India as a global power.

“It is clear that it is India, India, India first and Pakistan has become an unavoidable, pathetic sideshow of the summit”, he said.

Saurabh Shukla, editor-in-chief, NewsMobile, was equally eloquent: Pakistan had become a debt on the world and nobody wants it.

“Nobody wants Pakistan anywhere,” he added and observed that Imran Khan’s importance can be gauged by his being seated in the second row at the summit.

BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi was equally dismissive of India’s neighbour: “Pakistan is a country which has no history of its own; they don’t have their own language”.

Major General G.D. Bakshi (Retd) recalled that Pakistan was “under the scrutiny of the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) — they shouldn’t add to their difficulties.”

NDTV India discussed international challenges Modi might face in his second term.

Vishnu Prakash, a former diplomat, said, “There are three things very important for India in SCO: first is terrorism, second connectivity and third is energy.”

Meena Singh Roy, research fellow, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, thought the biggest challenge now is to “balance international relations with countries which are not on good terms with each other”.

Zee News on “Taal Thok Ke” discussed the SCO summit — will it be “Modi’s Mahagathbandhan against Terrorism?”

Former diplomat Vivek Katju said, “We have to fight a long battle with Pakistan on terrorism. Pakistan will never leave terrorism but it might calibrate its level.”

BJP’s Sudhanshu Trivedi added that it was “very important for India to sign a deal with China… it will handle… Pakistan and China, separately, and in separate ways.”

Front Page

All lead reports Friday follow Prime Minister Narendra Modi Bishkek at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit. The Times of India, The Indian Express and Hindustan Times put India’s woes with Pakistan in their eye-catching headlines but concentrate on the PM’s discussions with Chinese President Xi Jinping in their copy.

“While reaffirming the “Wuhan spirit” between India and China, Modi emphasised that India-Pakistan issues will remain a bilateral matter and said he had tried to pursue better relations but the process had been derailed. It was a significant message, conveyed to Pakistan’s closest strategic ally,” writes TOI in “Need concrete action on terror by Pak for talks, Modi tells Xi”.

Express reveals that in truth, “There was a very brief discussion on Pakistan”, quoting foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale. It also carries a parallel report devoted to “Modi, Imran sit across dinner table, don’t talk to each other”.

The Hindu chooses to focus on something more pertinent, which other papers bury or banish to inside pages: “Modi, Xi meet in Bishkek, agree to speed up boundary talks”.

Modi and Jinping “agreed to expedite the dialogue on the India-China boundary issue for securing a “fair” solution”, it said

“The attention on the border issue acquires significance as the Chinese President is expected to visit India later this year for a summit with Mr. Modi,” writes the Hindu, which drops the Pakistan angle altogether.

ISRO

Common to Page 1 across newspapers, also is “India will have its own space station, says ISRO chief Sivan” (The Hindu).

TOI paraphrases a dramatic quote by the ISRO chief as its opening sentence: “After populating space with myriad satellites and sending probes to the Moon and Mars, India will have an address in the skies”. Hindustan Times describes this as “expanding the country’s ambitious plan to increase its imprint in space”.

“The modalities will be worked out after its first manned space mission, Gaganyaan, is complete,” informs the Express.

It also carries another space-related news item, profiling the women, Ritu Kharidal and Muthayya Vanitha, who pioneered the Chandrayaan-2 mission to the moon, which will launch 15 July.

Kolkata’s doctors strike

HT and Express report on the agitation in Kolkata, where protesting doctors are demanding security against threats to their life. HT writes that the doctors “defied chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s 2 pm deadline to resume work or face action” Thursday.

Express says “battlelines hardened” in a “snowballing agitation” which saw Banerjee “turning the heat on them”.

TOI looks beyond West Bengal, reporting, “Healthcare services across Delhi and Maharashtra are likely to be paralysed on Friday with doctors giving a call for complete shutdown of OPD services and routine surgeries in government hospitals as a mark of solidarity with members of their fraternity in Bengal who have been protesting against murderous attacks on them”.

Others

“Sarvarkar loses Veer as Cong rewrites school textbooks in Rajasthan” reports the Express. It writes that since it came to power, the Ashok Gehlot led government has “made several changes” pertaining to “historical events and personalities, and to decisions taken by the NDA government in its first term”.

The Hindu continues its series of reports on the “mastermind” behind the Sri Lanka easter blasts, reporting on page 1 that he was “linked to three IS cases”.

TOI is the only one to note on its front page flap, “#MeToo case against Nana false, say cops”.

Opinion

The Times of India: “Moonbound” celebrates India’s journey into space with the forthcoming Chandrayaan-2 mission scheduled for 15 July as one more step forward in its ambitious mission.

Space exploration, once considered “national vanity projects”, are now an “existential necessity” with satellites critical to both communication and weather mapping. It is also a “national security imperative” so ISRO’s move to up “its space game” is welcome.

TOI highlights and applauds the high percentage of women (30 per cent) involved in the project, including project director and mission director, in a country where “gender inequality continues to drag down social and economic progress…”

The Indian Express: “Calling Attention” says the latest militant attack in Jammu and Kashmir that killed 5 CRPF personnel — four months after 40 CRPF jawans were killed in the Pulwama attack by the Jaish-e-Mohammed — “shows that militancy continues to take a heavy toll”.

The attack occurred on the route to Amarnath and with the yatra just three weeks away, “security considerations have only gone up” now — in 2017, seven pilgrims were killed in a militant attack.

Express says the problems in J&K cannot be solved solely by killing militants, “slapping NIA cases against separatists and discrediting mainstream politicians” alongside the periodic reassertion of “BJP-RSS ideological plank for demographic change” — the latest being a “purported plan” for delimitation of assembly constituencies. PM Modi must strive “to win the hearts and minds of Kashmir”.

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With inputs from Shailaja Bajpai, Harshit Mansukhani, and Triya Gulati.

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