Ten years ago, the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayyabba (LeT) launched an assault on Mumbai that lasted three days and was broadcast live on television. Analysts suggest that little progress has since been made on Indian intelligence reform to prevent such attacks or on shoring up management capacity to limit escalation during a resulting crisis. A particularly under-appreciated aspect of crises is the role played by the media – both in contributing to how events unfold and in framing public discussion on escalation of a conflict with Pakistan. The recent 26/11 anniversary is an opportunity to review the historical role of the media and consider future implications.
New research published earlier this year by the Stimson Center affirms that news media in South Asia will continue to be an important stakeholder in interstate crises. Drawing on an empirical analysis of the history of India-Pakistan crises, it further suggests that extensive Indian media coverage of a provocation like a terrorist attack is correlated with the likelihood of that event being treated as a crisis by the government of India – ultimately, a political decision.
This article was originally published in The Wire by Ruhee Neog and Hannah Haegeland.