Pakistans Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has called for cooperation between New Delhi and Islamabad on terrorism, but veered off into a personal vituperative tirade against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi using extreme, unparliamentary language.
Asked by a Pakistani reporter at a news conference on Thursday about India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s accusations about Islamabad’s role in terrorism, he instead turned on Modi calling him derogatory names.
Taking the familiar line of Pakistan at the UN when faced with its support for and instigating terrorism, he also attacked the RSS asserting that it does not believe in the ideology of Mahatma Gandhi, whose bust was installed in the UN campus, and revere his assassin.
He dismissed Pakistan’s role in international terrorism, with an implied admission of its complicity, saying “Osama bin Laden is dead” and it is time to move on.
The Al Qaeda leader who was behind terrorist attacks around the world, including the 9/11 attack, was given a haven in Pakistan and US Navy Seals took him out in a raid on his hideout in Abbottabad in 2011.
At his news conference before Bhutto-Zaradari’s, Jaishankar had said: “The truth is, everybody today sees them (Pakistan) as the epicentre (of terrorism).”
He said sarcastically that after two-and-a-half years of the Covid pandemic, many have developed “brain fog” and added: “I assure you the world has not forgotten. Who has the fingerprints over a lot of (terrorist) activities in the region and beyond the region.”
Bhutto-Zardari said that Pakistan’s attempts to add four Indians to the international terrorists list were unsuccessful and said that it was because the influence India wields and which he alleged was by playing on international perceptions of Islamic terrorism.
The Minister from Pakistan, which constitutionally is theocratic and has legal provisions, including for death penalty, against even Muslims it considers non-believers, asserted that India was slipping away from secularism.
Before his tirade, he said that India and Pakistan should come together to fight the “nefarious” activities of terrorists.
“Let’s look to the future and ensure that going forward no Pakistani would have to fear for their life worrying about whether the kids will come home or not, and that no Indians should have to worry that their family, their kids,” are in danger, he said.
Bhutto-Zardari also said that there was no scope for rapprochement with India as long as Kashmir’s special status was not restored because there was “no domestic space” for such an initiative.
(Arul Louis can be contacted at email@example.com and followed at @arulouis)