New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party workers protested outside the Pakistan High Commission Friday, following the country’s foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s critical remarks against Narendra Modi at the United Nations Security Council the evening before.
Zardari said terrorist Osama Bin Laden was dead but the “butcher of Gujarat” was alive and the Prime Minister of India.
Zardari’s remarks came in response to External Minister S. Jaishankar’s earlier comments at the UNSC, where he labelled Pakistan as “the epicentre of global terrorism”. He also criticised the country for harbouring 9/11 terrorist Osama Bin Laden.
Zardari said Thursday evening: “[Indians] continue to perpetuate this philosophy. And it’s not just for Pakistan, it’s for the Muslims in India. We’re terrorists whether we’re Muslims in Pakistan and we’re terrorists whether we’re Muslims in India. I’d like to remind the honourable Minister for External Affairs of India that Osama Bin Laden is dead but the butcher of Gujarat lives and is the Prime Minister of India. He was banned from entering [the United States] until he became PM.”
Zardari further referred to Narendra Modi as the “Prime Minister of the RSS”, likening the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to Adolf Hitler’s Schutzstaffel (SS). Calling out the inauguration of a Mahatma Gandhi statue by Union Minister for External Affairs S. Jaishankar and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres as ironic, Zardari argued that the RSS did not believe in Gandhi’s ideology, and instead supported “the terrorists that assassinated Gandhi”, referring to his killer, Nathuram Godse.
Zardari also spoke about the 2002 Gujarat riots, in which hundreds of Muslims and Hindus were killed. “I’m not talking about some imaginary past. I’m talking about today. They’re not even attempting to wash the blood of the people of Gujarat off their hands for their election campaigns,” Zardari said, referring to the release of the men convicted of gang-raping Bilkis Bano and murdering her family, including her three-year-old daughter.
Earlier at the UNSC, a Pakistani journalist was berated by Jaishankar when he asked about the India-Pakistan conflict and the situation in Kashmir.
Taking a jibe at Zardari, Jaishankar replied: “You’re asking the wrong Minister when you say ‘how long will we do this’. It is the ministers of Pakistan who will tell you how long Pakistan intends to practise terrorism. At the end of the day, the world is not stupid or forgetful. The world does increasingly call out countries, organisations and people who indulge in terrorism. By taking the debate elsewhere, you’re not going to confuse anybody anymore. So my advice is please clean up your act, please try to be a good neighbour.”
Meanwhile, Zardari’s criticisms of Modi has ignited a huge outcry and protests in India, especially among the BJP, with many deriding the speech as a personal attack. India has officially condemned the remarks as a “new low, even for Pakistan”.
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