New Delhi: Pakistan’s political analysts, leaders, politicians and even the local media seems to have taken a studied silence on foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s comments calling Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi the ‘butcher of Gujarat’. There was neither outrage nor chest-thumping on channels or talk shows on a remark that could take India-Pakistan relations to a new low.
“The country right now is dealing with its own political turmoil, so it is not being given much space in the media or political discourse,” said Pakistani political commentator Ayesha Siddiqa. Other journalists that ThePrint spoke to had a similar opinion.
Apart from simply running the news story, no prominent channel or newspaper gave further space to Bhutto’s comments.
Even the likes of former PM Imran Khan who have in the past praised India for its ‘independent foreign policy’, especially during the Russia-Ukraine war, haven’t uttered a word.
Dawn, the leading Pakistan daily, covered the news of a protest by BJP workers at the Pakistan embassy in Delhi. Most news outlets retweeted the video of Bhutto’s press conference from the UN Security Council meeting in New York, where he had made the remark.
“Osama bin Laden is dead, but the butcher of Gujarat lives and he is the Prime Minister of India,” Bhutoo had said on Thursday. He was reacting to Foreign Minister S Jaishankar calling Pakistan the “epicentre of terrorism” in a powerful takedown.
Siddiqa described Bilawal’s speech as a master performance by a new foreign minister, one who is trying to create a new space for himself and impress significant players in the country.
“His statement is significant because it indicates what we have known for so long, and is a response to India wanting to not talk about this. Both the countries are hostile towards each other and there is no hope for conversation or peace dialogue, so Pakistan has come to a point where it is saying what needs to be said,” she said.
Pakistani journalist Adil Jawad also reiterated that there are many issues pertaining to politics and economy that this hardly gets much attention.
“Even the Indian foreign minister retaliated, these kinds of comments on the UN forum are very common and these spaces are to vent. Politicians from both the countries use the opportunity to gain political mileage in front of their own countrymen,” said Jawad.
He added that it is not the way forward. “Both countries become a laughing stock in front of the world by engaging in such conversations on an international forum,” he added.
India’s response was swift and sharp. “These comments are a new low, even for Pakistan,” said the Foreign Ministry. In its objection, it brought up the events in 1971.
“The Foreign Minister of Pakistan has obviously forgotten this day in 1971, which was a direct result of the genocide unleashed by Pakistani rulers against ethnic Bengalis and Hindus. Unfortunately, Pakistan does not seem to have changed much in the treatment of its minorities. It certainly lacks credentials to cast aspersions at India,” said the statement.
(Edited by Anurag Chaubey)