In a blistering expose of Pakistan’s duplicity on terrorism, India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar called his Pakistani counterpart Bilawal Bhutto Zardari the “promoter, justifier and a spokesperson” of the terror industry and made it clear that “victims of terrorism do not sit for talks with perpetrators of terrorism.”
Just as the sun was setting in Goa, weaving a spell of magic in the sky, the underlying tensions between estranged neighbours, India and Pakistan, bubbled to the fore, with New Delhi countering tasteless accusation of weaponizing terrorism.
The mild-mannered and soft-spoken Dr Jaishankar seethed with anger, in a voice laden with sarcasm, as he called out Pakistan’s scandalous double-speak on terror. “As a Foreign Minister of an SCO member state, Mr Bhutto Zardari was treated accordingly. As a promoter, justifier and a spokesperson of a terrorism industry, which is the mainstay of Pakistan, his positions were called out and they were countered including at the SCO meeting itself,” he told journalists at a beach resort after the meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Goa on May 5.
“You know, victims of terrorism do not sit together with perpetrators of terrorism to discuss terrorism. The victims of terrorism, defend themselves, counter acts of terrorism, they call it out, they delegitimise it and that is exactly what is happening.”
“So, to come here and preach these hypocritical words, as though we are on the same boat, I mean, they are committing acts of terrorism. And you know, I don’t want to jump the gun on what happened today (referring to the attack in J&K in which 5 soldiers were killed) but I think we are all feeling equally outraged. Let’s be very, very clear on this terrorism matter.”
“I will say Pakistan’s credibility is depleting even faster than its forex reserves,” he said, ridiculing Pakistan’s duplicity.
The diplomat-turned-minister rebutted Pakistan’s objections to hosting a G20 meeting of tourism ministers in Srinagar towards May-end. “They (Pakistan) have nothing to do with G20. In fact, they have nothing to do with Kashmir. There is only one issue to discuss on Kashmir which is when does Pakistan vacate its illegal occupation of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.” He stressed that Jammu and Kashmir “was, is and will” always be part of India.
In response to Bhutto Zardari raising the issue of revocation of Article 370 in J&K, he had a terse one-liner. “Wake up and smell the coffee. Article 370 is history.”
Bhutto Zardari’s comment that “let’s not get caught up in weaponising terrorism for diplomatic point-scoring”, elicited a sharp response from Mr Jaishankar, who said that it “unconsciously reveals a mindset”.
“What does weaponising something mean? …It means that the activity is legitimate. But it’s not. Now what are we doing? We are countering this, we are defending ourselves. We are calling it out. We are not scoring diplomatic points. We are politically and diplomatically exposing Pakistan before the world,” he said.
The India-Pakistan slug fest once again highlighted the danger of allowing bilateral issues to overshadow a multilateral meeting. In his opening remarks at the press conference, Mr Jaishankar had highlighted positive outcomes of the SCO foreign ministers’ meeting which included SCO approval for new verticals of cooperation proposed by India, including setting up a special working group on start-ups and innovation and another expert group on traditional medicines.
But by the time, the beach-side press conference ended, there was only darkness on the horizon for accident-prone India-Pakistan relations.
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.
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