Jaishankar takes a dig at American media for ‘biased’ India coverage

India's voice counts in world because of PM Modi; U.S.-Pak relationship has not served either of two: Jaishankar

Updated - September 26, 2022 05:41 pm IST

Published - September 26, 2022 07:39 am IST - Washington:

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar.

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar. | Photo Credit: PTI

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, on Sunday, slammed the mainstream American media, including The Washington Post, for their “biased” coverage of India.

“I look at the media. You know, there are some newspapers you know, exactly, what they are going to write including one in this town,” Mr. Jaishankar told a gathering of Indian-Americans from across the country amidst laughter and applause on September 25.

The prestigious Washington Post is the national daily published from Washington DC and is currently being owned by Jeff Bezos of Amazon.

“My point is there are biases, there are efforts really, to determine,... Look, the more India goes its way and the people who believe that they were the custodians and the shapers of India lose ground in India the more actually, some of these debaters gonna come outside,” Mr. Jaishankar said responding to a question on the increase in anti-Indian forces in this country.

Such groups, he asserted, are “not winning in India”. Such groups, the Minister noted, will try and win outside or try and shape India from outside.

“This is something which we need to be aware of. It is important to contest. It isn’t because most Americans will not know what sort of the nuances and the complexities of back home, so, it’s important not to sit back, not to let other people define me. That is something which I feel as a community is very important for us,” he said.

Responding to a question on misrepresentation of the Kashmir issue in the American capital, Mr. Jaishankar said if there is a terrorist incident, it doesn’t matter what faith the person who’s killed belongs to.

“If there are Indian soldiers or Indian policemen who are abducted; If there are people working for the government, or citizens going about their business, who will lose their lives?,” he added.

“How often do you hear people talking about it; pronouncing it, in fact, look at the media coverage. What does the media cover what does the media not cover?,” the External Affairs Minister asked.

That is how actually opinions and perceptions are shaped, he underlined.

“There is a big song and dance about the Internet being cut. Now, if you’ve reached the stage where you say an Internet cut is more dangerous than the loss of human lives, then what can I say?” Mr. Jaishankar said amidst applause from the audience.

“If you look at A [Article] 370-issue. What was a temporary provision of the Constitution was finally put to rest this was supposed to be an act of majority. This was supposed to be majoritarian. Tell me what was happening in Kashmir was not majoritarian? I think the way facts are slanted, things are laid out. What is right, what is wrong is confused. This is actually politics at work.

“We should not let it go. We should contest it. We should educate. We should shape the narrative. This is a competitive world. We need to get our messages out. That is my message to you,” he said.

“We are not serving our country well or our beliefs well, or even our sense of what is right and wrong but by staying out of these debates. I think we have opinions we must express them we must share it with people, we must educate others on what is right and what is wrong.

“I honestly believe that if you look at the whole 370 the Jammu and Kashmir situation, to me it’s mind boggling. Something whose merits were so obvious, should actually there even be people who would think different way,” Mr. Jaishankar said.

‘U.S.-Pak relationship has not served either of two’

Jaishankar responds to US F-16 package for Pakistan

America’s relationship with Pakistan has “not served” either of the two countries, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said on September 25 raising questions on the Biden administration’s approval of a $450-million sustenance package for F-16 fleet.

“Very honestly, it’s a relationship that has neither ended up serving Pakistan well, nor serving the American interests. So, it is really for the United States today to reflect on what are the merits of this relationship and what do they get by it,” Mr. Jaishankar said in response to a question during an interaction with the Indian-Americans.

Referring to the argument made by the U.S. that F-16 sustenance package is to fight terrorism, he said everybody knows where and against whom F-16 are used. “You’re not fooling anybody by saying these things,” he said in response to a question.

Early this month, the Biden administration approved a $450 million F-16 fighter jet fleet sustainment programme to Pakistan, reversing the decision of the previous Trump administration to suspend military aid to Islamabad for providing safe havens for the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network.

In a notification to the U.S. Congress, the State Department made a determination approving a possible foreign military sale for sustainment and related equipment for an estimated cost of $450 million, arguing that this will sustain Islamabad’s capability to meet current and future counterterrorism threats by maintaining its F-16 fleet.

In a call with U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had expressed India’s concerns about the F-16 package to Pakistan.

‘India’s voice counts because of PM Modi’

India matters in the world today and its voice counts because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mr. Jaishankar said on Sunday.

Referring to the series of meetings he had with the world leaders in New York on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, Mr. Jaishankar said he can say this based on the feedback from these meetings.

The voice of India matters and is being taken seriously at the world stage because of the leadership and policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mr. Jaishankar said at an interactive dialogue with the Indian-American community organised by the U.S. India Friendship Council and Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS).

"Today our opinions count, our views matter and… have actually today the ability to shape the big issues of our time. I think … these are main takeaways from a very, very intensive set of interactions over the last six days," he said about his New York meetings.

Responding to a question on Ukraine, Mr. Jaishankar said today the nature of the world is such that a big conflict by definition causes enormous ripples across the world. "People across the world are paying the cost of fuel and food".

"I think this conflict has different facets and perhaps some of those, maybe addressed (earlier)," he said.

Indian-Americans from various parts of the country flew in to attend the event. The External Affairs Minister arrived in the American capital from New York, where he attended the annual General Assembly of the United Nations, for a four-day official visit.

During his stay here he is expected to meet the Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. He is also likely to have interactions with the members of the corporate sector and the think-tank community.

"During my professional lifetime, as a diplomat, perhaps the biggest change that I saw, and I was privileged to be part of, was a change in the relationship between India and America," he said.

The Minister described Indian-Americans as the living bridge between the two countries as the one responsible for this change. The role of the Indian-American community in strengthening this relationship is something which "I can never say enough about," he said.

"India, America relationship has changed because of Indian-Americans. It did not change only because of government policies," Mr. Jaishankar said.

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