Indian media made a fool of itself for publishing and making viral a fictional satire piece on Pakistani PM, Imran Khan, as a news item. Indian Media news Agency, Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) that describes itself as the largest Indian News Agency first carried this and since it was being subscribed by several Indian media publications it became viral.
The Pakistani satirical website, The Dependent, linked with daily paper, Pakistan Today, had posted a satirical piece on the briefing of Prime Minister Imran Khan with journalists. According to this comical piece Imran Khan was claiming that Pakistan has reached ‘epidemiological holy grail’ or flattening of the curve of COVID-19. But Indian journalist, Aarti Tikoo Singh, known for her strong commentaries against Pakistan, made a fool of herself when she turned that comical piece into a news story for India’s largest private News Agency.
Satirical piece, in Dependent, on Imran Khan
The fictional satirical piece, in Dependent (Pakistan Today), had mentioned that Imran Khan talked about flattening of the corona pandemic curve – before being told by one of the aides that he is reading the curve upside down.
The satirical piece – making fun of Khan – had made waves on Pakistani Twitter before being spotted by an Indian journalist. The Indian journalist Aarti Tikoo Singh, known for her strong anti-Pakistan views, assumed it a piece of news. She published the article with her byline on site of IANS-a syndicated agency. Several Indian publications subscribing to IANS ended up republishing the news on their sites with the intention to mock Pakistani PM, Imran Khan.
— Zarrar Khuhro (@ZarrarKhuhro) May 7, 2020
Aarti Tikoo apologises but with bitterness
Ms. Aarti Tikoo Singh, is someone whose journalistic career in India is taking off on her anti-Pakistan views. She is believed to be a Kashmiri from Indian occupied state of Jammu & Kashmir and has very strong views against Pakistan. Given her state of mind, it is only natural that she assumed the Dependent (Pakistan Today) comical piece as a News Story creating embarrassment for IANS and several other Indian publications.
Unfortunately most Indian publications did not bother to verify. But, in an attempt to deride Pakistani PM Khan, they ended up making a mockery of themselves. Ms. Aarti Tikoo Singh has since then apoolgzed but she is bitter about her Indian critics. Even while apologising on her Twitter handle she ended up attacking journalists who – in her view – daily peddle Pakistani propaganda against India.
I mistook satire for serious news. The hate-AartiTikoo brigade in its frenzy is projecting as if my mistake is the biggest ever crime. Yes, stupid of me; I apologise for my error. But imagine the journos who deliberately peddle Pakistani propaganda & bigotry against India daily.
— Aarti Tikoo Singh (@AartiTikoo) May 8, 2020
Pakistani media spotted blunder of Indian media
A score of Pakistani journalists spotted this blunder by Indo-Asian News Agency. They mocked Indian media for their obsession to demean Pakistan. Also, this faux pass raised renewed questions on the credibility of Indian media on stories related to Pakistan. Since many like Ms. Aarti Tikoo are full of negative feelings on Pakistan so they are bound to interpret any item on Pakistan with this mind frame. Situation is not much different on Pakistani side too. The danger in all this is that reporting in India and Pakistan on each other might be very skewed. This lopsided reporting by Indian and Pakistani media against each other ends up creating more and more negativity amongst people on both sides of the border.
The flawed, incorrect and misleading article, of Aarti Tikoo, was also shared on Indian Twitter, with users of the micro-blogging site desperately attempting to troll Imran Khan for his supposed mistake. Twitter India has huge influence on world wide Twitter. It regularly censors Pakistani users; if it blocks a Pakistani twitter handle then the Pakistani user can be blocked world wide, unless Twitter finds repreive for him.
In this bizarre way, Twitter India ends up controlling Twitter worldwide. So far the Twitter parent company, in the United States is either oblivious of this or has ignored it – but sooner or later this is bound to become an issue. Because its implications are that Pakistani content on Twitter is effectively under the censor of Indian mindset or world view. Its not clear if Twitter India has taken a notice of Ms. Aarti Tikoo’s misleading piece and its spread worldwide through Twitter.
Pakistani Television personality Zarar Khuhro, also tweeted how the Indian media got it wrong and had provided some comic relief in the process. The headlines at the websites identically read, “Imran Khan reads chart upside down, claims COVID curve flattening.” The blunder left Indian social media in splits. Following the backlash, IANS, and other Indian publications removed the article.
A serious blunder by Indian media baffled score of Indian readers and academics world wide. Prof Ashok Swain, at Sweden’s Uppsala University, strongly condemned this blunder of Indian journalists who could not differentiate between a piece of satire and news item.
Later the Twitter handle of ‘The Dependent’ (Pakistan Today) took a dig at the Indian website. They shared the screenshot of the articles on IANS in a tweet. They wrote, “Learn to differentiate between satire and actual news reports.” Dependent is a new addition to the armoury of Pakistani publication, Pakistan Today. It was launched by prominent journalist, Arif Nizami, several years ago. However it has progressed much under a new young team – brought by Arif Nizami.