Peasant woman!

There’s no question but that Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif did refer to his Indian counterpart, idiomatically, as a “dehati aurat” (peasant woman) for complaining about Pakistan-supported terrorism to the US president. In the Punjabi context, if there are differences to be sorted out you handle it directly, man-to-man, not go running off, crying to a third party for justice. This is straight forward stuff that Narendra Modi picked up on. There are two aspects to this episode.

The first question is did Sharif thus describe MMS or not? Hamid Mir of Pak’s Geo TV and Barkha Dutt of NDTV breakfasted with Sharif when this little event happened. It is always fun for reporters enjoying the license to unconditionally quote politicians to alight on the most risque, sensational, or controversial phrase or thought. This was the intent no doubt for Mir to reproduce it on twitter — which is how it was revealed to the world and was used by Modi as a rhetorical hook to hang Manmohan on. Perfectly legitimate. With the Indian media — in the wake of the Modi speech in Delhi to a vast and enthusiastic audience in hundreds of thousands — pouncing on it, the desi reporter Dutt, suddenly realized she was in a soup. Why? Because Modi had also added that the Indian journalist hearing this insult should have, at a minimum, walked out which, of course, Dutt didn’t do. Now, what would any person who was in Dutt’s position do, if he/she discovered that her behaviour was attacked by Modi who might be next PM? You would quickly try and retrieve the situation for yourself by tweeting that, in fact, the Pak PM made no such offending remark in the first place, thereby shifting the onus on to the Pakistani reporter to back her and defuse the situation, or stick to his original tweet and be held responsible for creating a diplomatic-cum-political ruckus. Which’s exactly what the quick-thinking Barkha — who has been in other troubles (recall Radiia tapes?), did.

The more significant thing is the Indian government’s penchant during Manmohan’s tenure to run to Washington every time there’s a hint of trouble with Islamabad, asking Uncle Sam to discipline the unruly Pakistanis for creating some terrorist disturbance or the other in Kashmir. For God’s sake, how can you then turn around and ask the same US govt to not interfere in India’s internal or bilateral matters (with Pakistan)? This is the point behind Modi’s jibe that Manmohan entirely deserves Sharif’s insults because he puts up so effortlessly with lots worse from the Gandhis — mother and son every day of his stay at 7, Race Course Road. But that’s common knowledge.

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
This entry was posted in Indian Politics, Pakistan, South Asia, Terrorism. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Peasant woman!

  1. 29/Sep was a field day for social media. The main stream media tried to obfuscate the matter but it was clear for all to see what had happened during the Tea in which Barkha Dutt and Hamid Mir were invited. One meeting two reporters and two version of events. Who were you going to believe ? But it was clear from Hamid Mirs initial comments on a GEO TV program in which veteran Pakistani journalist Najam Sethi was also present that Nawaz Sharif had indeed equated MMS to a complaining ‘Dehati Aurat’ and Barkha was on the receiving end of this jibe. Hamid Mir later tried to retrieve the situation but the truth was already out. It can be collaborated by the tweet from Barkha that an anecdotal reference was made in a story. You don’t expect Nawaz Sharif to directly insult the Indian PM that is something he would leave for this stooges like Hafiz Saeed to do.
    What is pathetic is the Indian English Media’s incessant attack on Modi just because old habits die hard. If he is being turned into a controversial figure it is by the main stream English media which probably finds him an outsider unworthy of their appreciation.

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