Dr Hassan Shehzad
I usually don’t go deep into what populist leaders like Imran Khan say day in day out. It is because they are predictable and repetitive. In Germany, academicians have worked considerably on populism. Richard Walker, the chief international editor of DW TV, of all the people, is supposed to be well versed in this area. Doubly so before having Imran Khan invited for an interview.
Mainstream media platforms are meant to organize informed opinions, sifting rhetoric from logic. Public rely on them because they strive to stop fake news from going forward. In case of giving stage to populist leaders, it is the duty of TV hosts to keep on factchecking what they say live so that the masses have a clearer picture of what is what and what not is what.
Why I was attracted to Imran Khan’s interview to DW is the spread of its clips by some so-called media teachers. In this interview, Khan is lessening Walker on why his country, Germany, has not condemned Indian atrocities in held Kashmir. His argument was meant to cover up his silence on violation of human rights in Ukraine and parts of China. Walker appeared to be totally unprepared and was reduced to mocking resistance saying that DW was highlighting Kashmir and other issues.
He simply walked into Khan’s trap and as a result an army of cult-followers in Pakistan is using DW’s credibility as an endorsement to Khan’s hyperbole. Here is what should have been presented briefly to factcheck Khan:
German Chancellor Olaf Sholzinvited Indian Prime Minister Narendara Modi to the summit of G 7 that went from June 26 to 27 in a five-star hotel near Munich. India is not a member of G 7, the world’s richest nations including the US, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy and the UK. These nations account for about half of the world’s GDP. Chancellor Sholz also invited Indonesian President Joko Widodo among other non-members to the summit. But he did not invite Pakistan.
However, it is business as usual in Pakistani media and no one is criticizing Germany for inviting Modi. Everyone is totally consumed by local politics that is getting fiercer and bitchier than ever with each passing day.
Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbockchose:
Earlier this month on June 7, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock chose Islamabad as the destination for her maiden visit to South Asia. India was not on her visit map.
In Pakistani media, it was also a low-key event. On our social media, we had the usual memes targeting Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
On the contrary, in Indian media, outrage was unleashed on Germany for choosing Pakistan as the first destination in Asia for the visit of its new foreign minister. The outrage turned into fury when Baerbock announced in a joint press conference with Bilawal that the United Nations (UN) needs to play its role in protecting human rights in Indian-held Kashmir (IHK).
Germany has a history of women empowerment. Chancellor Angella Markel is counted amongst the strongest women leaders in Europe. Nonetheless, Indian media hurled at Baerbock gender slurs. Her age, 41, was mentioned to stake a claim that she is too young to do the job.
She was clearheaded stating that human rights are “indivisible” everywhere in the world including Kashmir, endorsing the UN mandate for protection of liberties and rights in the restive territory. A “constructive approach” and “confidence building measures” are imperative for bringing both Pakistan and India together, she asserted.
Germany is among the European Union countries that have drafted a foreign policy for Indo-Pacific Ocean. An evaluation of this policy reveals that it has mention of India frequently and Pakistan is mentioned only on the margins.
Germany attaches importance to this region because it is the route for over 60 percent of world trade. By 2030, China will be the world’s top and India third big economies, according to GDP projections. It means that Germany has made proper calculations to assess the need to draft a policy for the Indo-Pacific Region.
Prof Dr Tahir Malik:
Prof Dr Tahir Malik: Prof Dr Tahir Malik, from the International Relations Department of National University of Modern Languages (NUML), says that these projections are based on investment in science and technology. Swimming against the tide, Pakistani economy relies on speculations and real estate. Prof Malik thinks that it will produce an army of property dealers and we will not be even in the race for excellence.
Europe tries to woo India because of its strategic location and economic magnitude, perceiving that it could be helpful for them to surround China. Germany, however, keeps on pointing out human rights violations both in India and China. In the past, a German ambassador in India held an art event in Srinagar. Different Hindu extremist groups grilled him publically for doing it. Similarly, last year in September, German ambassador Jan Hecker, 54, a close aide of Chancellor Merkel, was found dead in his residence in Beijing, hardly two weeks after assuming office.
Since Germany has drafted a policy for Indo-Pacific region, India has unrealistic expectations from it. No European country wants to be part of militarization of this region, much less Germany. As a result, Indian think tanks belittle Germany’s contribution in upholding human rights in the region, scoffing at the size of its Navy meant to monitor the Indo-Pacific Ocean.
During the German foreign minister’s visit, Bilawal also agreed that Taliban must stop atrocities on women, children and minorities in Afghanistan. He asserted that peace should prevail and people of Afghanistan should have their representation in their own country. It was a subtle shift from the previous government’s stance on Taliban rule in Kabul. The outgoing prime minister, Imran Khan, used to mix suppression of women with Pashtoon culture and traditions.
Pakistan People’s Party:
Pakistan People’s Party has an open policy against religious extremism and Taliban. Recently, it has issued show-cause notice to its member from KP for attending a jirga meant to strike a deal with Taliban on the areas bordering Afghanistan.
Afghanistan was on agenda of Baerbock’s visit to Pakistan. But she tested positive for COVID-19 and had to cut her two-day visit short. There would have been more rounds of talk on Afghanistan and India had she completed her visit. She was also scheduled to meet staff of German Embassy in Islamabad.
German Ambassador has completed his tenure and Baerbock could have given some hint about who may replace him.
Popular but ineffective diplomacy: The outgoing German ambassador Bernhard Schlagheck seemingly put considerable energy into filling the shoes of his predecessor Martin Kobler, who was a known populist guru and had succeeded in becoming a brand during his stay here. Since Islamabad has become an important capital in the region where Germany intends to extend its influence, the later needs to send some sensible replacement to Schlagheck who should get down to enhance people-to-people contacts instead of getting mired into some unrealistic NGO presentations and projects. At the same time, global potential of Pakistan needs to be brought out so that people could understand the importance of G 7 Summit and push their governments to assume its due place at such global forums.