Weekday Squib: That thing about neutral umpires (2)

Baseless yet again? Not quite.

It was the daily News, a Pakistani newspaper, that first broke the story of Pakistan’s move to get the World Bank’s Praful Patel replaced.

Feb 3rd, 2005
The World Bank has replaced its Indian-born official with an American for reviewing Pakistan’s complaint on Baglihar dam following objections raised by Pakistan government.

The Acting Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Water Shiraz Jameel Memon disclosed this at a discussion held here on Wednesday on Barlihar dam under the aegis of Hamdard Thinkers Forum. [The News]

Chidanand Rajghatta’s report appeared in the Times of India two days later.

Feb 5th 2005
It turns out that having taken the Baglihar Dam issue to the World Bank, our cross-border kin were suddenly alarmed that the large numbers of Indians who work in the multi-lateral institution could weigh in on the spat. So they reportedly asked to replace Praful Patel, who is the Bank’s vice-president of South Asia region, from a panel to review Pakistan’s case. [Times of India]

Unfortunately, it is Rajghatta who gets accused of malice, fabrication, paranoia and transgressing journalistic ethics.

Feb 9th, 2005
Pakistan has described as “malicious and totally fabricated” an Indian press report claiming that Islamabad has asked the World Bank to replace its Indian vice president for the South Asia region from a panel reviewing Pakistan’s case on Baglihar.

“It is a malicious story, and is indicative of the paranoia of some of the Indian journalists stationed in Washington DC, who would transgress journalistic ethics to make an unsubstantiated claim,” said Muhammad Sadiq, a senior official at Pakistan’s embassy in Washington, of the story in the Times of India on Saturday (ie Feb 5th 2004). [Daily Times]

Pakistan is clearly running for cover — prompted perhaps by a late realisation that Praful Patel is actually a Ugandan national, or more likely, James Wolfensohn’s polite refusal to replace Patel.

Update:Does Chidanand Rajghatta read the Acorn?

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