Pakistan media predicts ‘darker days’ ahead for Kashmir

The headlines on the Kashmir issue by various Pakistani newspapers were strongly worded and critical towards the Indian government.

The Pakistan media has been vociferous in its criticism of the Indian government’s recent scrapping of Article 370 that bestowed special status to the state since its accession in 1947.

The Imran Khan government on Monday termed the act “illegal” and one that would “further deteriorate” the relations between the two nuclear-armed nations. The Pakistan government has alleged that there have been unprovoked firing and shelling from the Indian side and that cluster bombs were being used by Indian forces in PoK.

Pakistan president Dr Arif Alvi on Tuesday called a joint session of Parliament to discuss the matter.

Toeing the line of the government, prominent newspapers in the country objected to the withdrawal of the act and talked about impending “darker times” in Kashmir. The common narrative was that “Pakistan stands with Kashmir in its time of crisis” and that the repealing of the act is an attempt by the “Hindu nationalist” government to change the demographics of the valley and replace its Muslim majority population with a Hindu population. While most newspapers closely followed developments in India, they also carried analyses and opinions on the legal repercussions of the act and the next course of action that Pakistan would take.

Screaming headers

“New Delhi sheds fig leaf, robs held Kashmir of special status,” said the headline of Dawn, a prominent newspaper in the country.

The Express Tribune, headlined the development as the “Darkest day for Kashmir: Occupation redux”. The headline of Pakistan Today said “India fails Kashmir again”, while that of Pakistan Observer was titled “India revokes occupied Kashmir’s special status”. The Nation said “India forcibly revokes IOK special status”.

Websites of most Pakistan-based English dailies, ran lives, explainers and analyses on the Kashmir issue through Tuesday. In an explainer on “What India’s change to occupied Kashmir status means”, The Dawn quoting critics stated “in doing away with Article 370, the government hopes to change IOK’s Muslim-majority demographics by allowing a flood of new Hindu residents.”

Another article, titled “Laws of occupation” penned by Asad Rahim Khan, a Pakistan-based barrister, criticised the Indian media for demonising Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and Trump and missing out the “Hindutva project” in the run up to the presidential order to scrap Article 370. “The Sangh Parivar has dreamed of altering Kashmir’s Muslim majority demographic since forever. It will now bulldoze a Hindu majority into the Valley,” it said.

Retaliatory arguments

An article in The Express Tribune titled “Revoking special status: As Kashmiri nightmare come true”, quoted legal experts to assert that India through Kashmir is trying to reinforce its position in the region, especially when Pakistan, strengthened by its US alliance, is looking forward to having a say in Afghanistan.

The headlines of Pakistan Today on the Kashmir issue were strongly worded and critical towards the Indian government.

“Pakistan to use all possible options to counter India’s illegal steps,” read the headline of a story reporting about the Pakistan Foreign Office’s rejection of the move by the Indian government.

“Modi’s Gambit”, an editorial stressed that the Indian government has violated “solemn promises” made to the people of Kashmir as enshrined in Article 370. It said the change in the status will harm Indo-Pak relations, as “Pakistan will continue to support morally and politically the Kashmiri people’s struggle against Indian occupation… keep the Kashmir issue alive in the international forums and bring it back on the agenda of Pak-India talks.”

Pakistan Observer, on the other hand reported about support coming from Turkey’s president Turkish Recep Tayyib Erdogan on the Kashmir issue.

News articles related to Kashmir occupied a large chunk of the homepage Pakistani daily The Nation.

In an editorial titled “Darkest Hour”, the publication stated that “a Frankenstein’s monster of presidential decrees, stolen provincial autonomy and parliamentary resolutions cannot amend the constitution”, stressing that the consent of a two-thirds majority of the Kashmiri people was a must to repeal Article 370 and thus the scrapping of the act was unconstitutional.

The article was also critical of other nations for turning a blind eye to the issue and towards the United Nations for maintaining an ominous silence. It concluded by stating that Pakistan will have to depend on its own might to “come to the aid of Kashmiris”.