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In the line of fire, literally September 27, 2006

Posted by Sharath Rao in geo-politics, humor, india, reminisces-1990s.

Yes, we can do with some humor in our news reports.

Going by the tensions and the rhetoric that keeps exacerbating, President Bush will certainly have his work cut out in refereeing this contest on Thursday over dinner and one wonders whether instead of breaking the Ramadan fast with the traditional dates, which precedes the Ifthar dinner, Musharraf and Karzai may end up flinging them at one another!

Humor, potshots and subtle sarcasm is something I regularly find in western media but unfortunately rarely back in India, which if not bland tends to border on polemics and/or lengthy tirades. The reporter in this case is a Srilankan-American reporter, Aziz Hannifa who happens to one of the editors at India Abroad, a North American daily owned by the folks over at rediff.

Here is ‘Musharaff’s lie nailed’ – again by Aziz Hannifa.

In the context of the above and the below (!), I wonder if naming the book as “In the line of fire” is prophetic or reminiscent on the part of Gen. Mushraff !

In a related article and excellently article written at that by Indian Defence expert K. Subrahmanyam, Musharaff comes out as a joker. For a military general/politician/head of state, Musharaff actually speaks so much that he might soon be at risk of being ignored. Subrahmanyam asks :

If India was preparing for an offensive action and this move was undertaken as a countermeasure, why was this charge not made earlier when the then Pakistani foreign minister, Sartaj Aziz, visited India in June 1999? Why did it not feature in the conversations of the director-generals of military operations? Why did not Prime Minster Nawaz Sharif raise the issue in his conversations with Atal Bihari Vajpayee? The general claims it was a great victory for his army. Why then is it that the officers and men of the Pakistan army who fought valiantly and got killed did not get the decent burial that was their due? Why were their bodies abandoned on Indian territory? There is no precedent in the history of warfare of a victorious army behaving this way. Why did Pakistan not own up to this victory? Why was it not advertised to the great pride of the Pakistani people till this book was published?

For those who have followed Subrahmanyam’s writings ( like my schoolmate and friend of nearly 2 decades Rajaram ) will know that he never really lets you down. More on him here and here.

Update : A related memory now that I mentioned Subrahmanyam and Rajaram in the same breath is from May 27th, 1998. We along with a few ( or rather most ) of our classmates were waiting at the Brahmavar busstand to take the bus to school. As we were standing there, we were going through a cutout from a recent Times of India op-ed article from Subrahmanyam that Rajaram had gotten along that discussed the implications of the Indian nuclear tests in the sub-continent. The next day Pakistan tested its nuclear device.



1. Aswin Cletus D'Souza - October 1, 2006

More than humour in news reports, what I’d like to see is humour in our politicians.

I watched Musharraf on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and not only was he very witty and funny, the very fact that he accepted the invitation to come on this show, one that has a huge following in the US, is very impressive. At the end of the show, one would be left with a lasting opinion of the Pakistani president as a very rational minded, diplomatic yet frank leader who can do no harm.

I would like to see our Indian PM do things like these too to generate more favourable opinions here and the world over.

2. Sharath Rao - October 1, 2006

I couldnt agree more Aswin, except I am not sure if Musharaff wud be an example to emulate. Humor would be a desirable quality if it comes in additiona to a whole lot of others that we would expect from political leaders. Even if 1% of what VP Malik says here is true ( http://www.indianexpress.com/sunday/story/13746.html ), we know that doesnt apply to Musharaff.

Ofcourse, the example apart, we need more humor in the public arena – from public figures.

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