India - Pakistan: Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s Personal Attacks on PM Modi
STORIES, ANALYSES, EXPERT VIEWS
While participating in two high-profile events organised during India’s presidency of the UN Security Council (UNSC) for December – also the final month in India’s current stint in the Council – Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar raised the issue of terrorism in Pakistan without naming the country. The country, said the Minister, continues to be the home base for anti-India terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), though they may have adopted a lower profile in recent years because of global pressure. Minister Jaishankar also aimed at China, which has blocked five attempts to sanction Pakistani terrorists at the UNSC this year alone. The minister’s remarks were in line with India’s aim of forging a more collective global response to terrorism, as reflected by hosting a special meeting of the UN’s Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) in October and the No Money For Terror ministerial conference in November.
Crude personal attacks on PM Modi
Pakistan foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari retaliated through a crude personal attack against Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling him ‘the butcher of Gujarat’.
He recalled Modi ‘was banned from entering this country [the US] until he became Prime Minister.’ He said ‘This is the Prime Minister of the RSS and the Foreign Minister of the RSS!’ ‘What is the RSS?’ He asked and then answered ‘The RSS draws its inspiration from Hitler’s SS.’
Bhutto Zardari also mentioned separately, when Jaishankar and the UN secretary-general inaugurated a statue of Gandhi, that honestly Jaishankar would admit that ‘the RSS does not believe in Gandhi.’
Comments by minister of state for foreign affairs, Hina Rabbani Khar: A couple of days earlier in Pakistan, the minister of state for foreign affairs, Hina Rabbani Khar, had made the claim that ‘no country had used terrorism better than India.’ Ironically, Khar also stated that 'when you try and harm your region, you actually end up harming yourselves.’ In the same passage, the MoS also bizarrely complained that ‘they [India] have completely mastered the art of using international organisations for their political gain’.
The Indian media has responded sharply to these statements. In its comments on Bhutto Zardari, The Indian Express writes this “shows how unhinged the leader of the Pakistan People’s Party is from the imperatives of diplomacy. Governments may target other governments for one or anotheFr reason, but personal attacks are rare, and are made perhaps only when it has been decided that the relationship is better broken. In Pakistan’s case, it is not clear if that decision has been made……” Incidentally, former Prime Minister Imran Khan had also made personal remarks on PM Modi.
Steady improvement of India’s relations with Muslim countries
In any case, the paper states “Indian diplomacy is Pakistan-proofing itself. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two countries Pakistan describes as its ‘biradar’ nations, have better terms with India than with Pakistan. Soon, India may sell a Brahmos missile to Indonesia, the nation with the largest Muslim population. Even Turkey’s President Recep Tayeb Erdogan, a persistent India-baiter, seems to have called a truce with Modi after their ice-breaker meeting at the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation….”
The hardening of anti-India feelings, writes Praveen Swamy (National Security Editor, ThePrint) “legitimises jihadist groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad. That, in turn, raises the prospect of crisis-inducing terrorism in Kashmir, which would undermine Islamabad’s efforts to heal its economy…”
Pakistan’s record on human rights and terror
In her scathing criticism of Bhutto, Ruchir Joshi (writer, a filmmaker and a columnist for The Telegraph, India Today as well as other publications) writes “This grandson of the assistant butcher and cheerleader of the Butchers of East Bengal, Yahya Khan and Abdullah Niazi, can shove the mass murder and rape of hundreds of thousands of Bengalis under the carpet, he can wave off Pakistan’s more recent murderous complicity with al Qaida and the Taliban with a brief ‘Osama Bin Laden is dead, but …', he can gloss over Pakistan’s role in executing 26/11 and its hammering away at one of the most shameful moments of India’s recent history.”