CNN's Pro-Pakistan Bias

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1. Mr. Walter Isaacson, Chief Executive Officer, CNN Newsgroup
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Dear CNN Team,
We, the undersigned, as concerned U.S. citizens/ residents of
Indian origin and other interested CNN viewers, hereby register
our protest with regard to CNN's error-filled, shallow and biased
coverage of the ongoing India-Pakistan conflict.
Since decision-makers within the US government
rely on media outlets like yours, it is our concern that faulty
or biased coverage of a conflict between these nuclear powers
could lead to bad US foreign policies.

We would like to draw your immediate attention to a recent column
by Mr. Rajiv Malhotra, titled "CNN's Pakistan Bias". It is online
at http://www.sulekha.com/column.asp?cid=163061 , a popular site
that caters to the Indian diaspora. The article encapsulates the
flaws in CNN's coverage and the frustrations felt by many in the
Indian diaspora over the same. Incidentally, the article provides
background information on this conflict, which your reporters may
find valuable in terms of context.

We have outlined below a few salient points from that article
which support our contention regarding CNN's coverage.

1) Inequitable Coverage:

There is substantially more air time devoted to reports from, and
on, Pakistan than India, and this despite the presence of an
older CNN bureau in New Delhi. There is also more "face time"
given to Pakistani officials and spokespersons than their Indian
counterparts.

2)India and Pakistan as "equals":

This appears to be CNNs implied view, although as stated above,
the coverage is not consistent even with this fallacious notion.

India is a pluralistic, secular, vibrant, cacophonous democracy
like the U.S. It has a tradition of orderly transition of
governments, an army that is clearly subordinate to the elected
government and an increasingly dynamic economy. It is also home
to one-sixth of the human race and encompasses every religion on
the planet, including a Moslem population that is approximately
equal to the population of Pakistan.

By contrast, presently, Pakistan is an Islamic military
dictatorship, ruled for two-thirds of its 54 years by the army,
has an eighth of India's population and an economy that teeters
on the verge of bankruptcy. Religious minorities, including
Moslem sects like Shias and Ahmadiyas, are treated as second
class citizens. Non-Moslem minorities have dwindled to less than
4 \% of the population. The original constitution of Pakistan has
been abolished and strict Shariat Law is in place, which is
highly discriminatory towards people of other (non-Moslem)
faiths.

3) Pakistan as Co-victim of Terrorism:

While this may be the view du jour in official circles, no doubt
as a quid pro quo for usage of facilities until we apprehend bin
Laden and his associates, journalistic integrity requires a more
truthful perspective.

Yet, CNN has toed this line, turning a blind eye to the Pakistani
ISI's role as parent and nurturer of the Taliban who bear
substantial responsibility for the most heinous attack on US soil
in 50 years. There is also precious little investigative
reporting on the vitriolic anti-American curricula of the
thousands of Madrassahs (religious schools) which are really
jihad factories. The questions as to why these have been allowed
to thrive on Pakistani soil and what specifically is being done
to shut them down now are conveniently ignored.

4) Pakistan as a true "Ally":

This canard has been foisted on the public since late September.
Pervez Musharaff's being dragged into it, after arm twisting by
Washington D.C. ("You are with us or against us!") and the fact
that India first offered its unqualified support to fight the
scourge of terrorism have been inexplicably forgotten. While
Pakistan may now be an "ally", is it not incumbent on the media
to handle the relationship with skepticism, given the ally's
shenanigans in Afghanistan recently?

A significant portion of the Taliban consisted of Pakistani
nationals. The higher echelons of the Taliban certainly had
connections to the ISI and the Pakistani army, as was evidenced
by the hurried evacuation of Pakistani brass from Afghanistan in
the early stages of America's Afghan campaign. What were they
doing there? What was their role? Why were these questions never
pursued? The Northern Alliance, America's true allies on the
ground in this campaign, have repeatedly expressed skepticism
about Pakistan's intentions, past and present, in view of its
support of the Taliban. Yet, these views have given short shrift
instead of being investigated.

5)Musharaff as a Statesman:

This military General who is the self appointed "Chief Executive
of Pakistan" came to power by overthrowing an elected government.
He was the architect of the naked Kargil aggression against India
less than a decade ago. He has prevaricated on the nature of the
Taliban; to wit, they are just "students", "a small group of
extremists" and at one time opined that they should be a party in
the new Afghan Governmental structure. Yet, CNN continues to pay
obeisance to him and gives him more "face time" than his
counterpart, Mr. Vajpayee of India who is the democratically
elected Prime Minister of the largest democracy on the planet.

6) Jammu and Kashmir:

The correct name of this state is Jammu and Kashmir, not Kashmir.
This crucial issue is covered, if at all, with little context. At
the time of independence, the independent kingdom of Jammu and
Kashmir was given the option of joining India or Pakistan.

The Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir ceded this territory to India
after some dithering, during which time Pakistan invaded and
captured part of the territory. This illegality notwithstanding,
Pakistan has repeatedly asserted the Moslem- majority profile of
Jammu and Kashmir as a reason for its claim to it. This argument
is mooted by the fact that India is a secular country with a
Moslem population spread out all over and at least equal to that
of Pakistan.

A second assertion by Pakistan is the need for a plebiscite per
the U.N. Resolution on this matter, which came about because of
the dispute. What is conveniently neglected in this assertion is
the skewing of the demographics by Pakistan deliberately settling
the area with outsiders, which would render the results of any
such plebiscite meaningless.

Finally, Pakistan has been waging its own proxy wars in this
theater, with its Al-Qaeda linked operatives, which has resulted
in a mass exodus of the native Hindu Pandits from the area.

To keep referring to Jammu and Kashmir as the "disputed
territory" without this context is intellectually dishonest as it
puts India and Pakistan on an equal moral footing.

The above list, in no way exhausts the instances where we have
found CNN's coverage to be biased. We have presented a sample of
your bias, which we hope will persuade you to reevaluate your
policies regarding coverage of this crisis which has major, long-
term geopolitical implications.

Fairness and journalistic ethics certainly demand a better
understanding of the concerns of India, a democracy that has
borne the brunt of unconscionable terrorism over the past two
decades. Unbiased coverage would be much appreciated to ensure
credibility of your slogan, "depend on CNN".

We await your response, since we are part of your valuable
audience.