Zee TV deliberately bungles debate on Kashmir -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Zee TV deliberately bungles debate on Kashmir

WASHINGTON- The compulsive hatred shown by the Indians towards Pakistan, sometimes bordering the ridiculous, has become a recurring theme in the Western media.

Zee TV’s programme in London, where Pakistan’s High Commissioner Akbar S Ahmad was blacked out from the debate, was reported even by The Washington Times.

It said the Zee TV bungled the broadcast of a debate between the Indian and Pakistani ambassadors to Britain so badly that the diplomats suspected something else was afoot. They could not believe ZEE TV could be so inept unless it was a conspiracy, wrote The Times. According to details Akbar Ahmed was invited by Zee TV to participate in a debate on Kashmir. Its aides were worried right from the start. They advised him to reject the invitation from India’s largest satellite broadcaster with nearly 200,000 subscribers in Britain’s Asian community.

When he showed up at the television studio, the paper said, his aides were worried that he might be poisoned. They warned him not to drink or eat anything offered by the Indians the debate between Ahmed and Indian Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri degenerated into a farce.

Akbar told The Daily Telegraph that he was cautious as he entered the studio for the half-hour recording earlier this month. ‘It was enemy territory and on enemy terms,” he was’ quoted by the newspaper, “but 1 thought it was worth the risk to try to get a breakthrough. You have to realise that it’s like a Cold War between us,” he added. “My staff members were so nervous that they warned me not to eat the sandwiches or drink the coffee in case they were poisoned.”

The report says Akbar, a polished speaker, thought he had scored some valuable debating points, as he refuted India’s charges of terrorism and challenged his counterpart over India’s refusal to allow a plebiscite on the future of the disputed Kashmir region. As the TV network saw the debate going the Pakistan way, things started happening. Then the first glitch was discovered. A power surge had wiped out the tape, according to the show’s producers, who asked the diplomats to restart the debate.

“But this time the debate was more aggressive, not letting me get my points in and cutting me off whenever 1 used flash-point words like Kashmir or plebiscite,” Akbar. Ahmed complained. “I got the impression that the whole intention was to paint Pakistan a terrorist state.”

That, however, was just the beginning of the farce. When the programme was broadcast again the station went to a commercial after 12 minutes into the debate. When the show returned, the ambassadors were missing. Without any explanation, their debate had been replaced with an interview of a former Indian prime minister talking about his novel. Half an hour later, the debate returned. However, as soon as Akbar began to mention Kashmir, the programme was switched to an Indian movie and did not return. Funnily, reports The Times, the television station blamed an inexperienced staff member for mixing up the tapes. The paper notes that the poisonous atmosphere between the two countries only added to the tension.
Source: The News
Date:1/20/2000