‘Spokesperson of terror industry’: Jaishankar roasts Bilawal Bhutto Zardari

Jaishankar: During a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), India and Pakistan engaged in a heated dispute about terrorism on Friday. The Indian external affairs minister, S Jaishankar, accused his Pakistani counterpart, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, of being a “spokesperson and apologist” for the terrorism industry.

After Bhutto Zardari made comments during a SCO foreign ministers’ meeting and a later news conference, Jaishankar responded by stating that India will take action to counter and discredit cross-border terrorism, as well as exposing Pakistan’s support for it.

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He strongly criticized Bhutto Zardari’s attempts to connect the restart of negotiations with the reinstatement of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, insisting that the only matter to be discussed would be Pakistan’s relinquishment of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

During a news conference following the conclusion of the multilateral meeting, Jaishankar spoke assertively about Bhutto Zardari’s treatment as a foreign minister of an SCO member state, and how his positions were challenged and contradicted due to his role as a promoter, defender, and spokesperson of Pakistan’s terrorism industry.

Jaishankar emphasized that victims and perpetrators of terrorism cannot negotiate together, and that India has the right to protect itself, challenge, criticize, and discredit acts of terrorism. He went on to say that it was hypocritical of Bhutto Zardari to come and preach as if both countries were in the same position when Pakistan is the one carrying out terrorist activities.

Jaishankar’s focus on recent events

Jaishankar commented on the recent explosion that killed five soldiers in Rajouri, stating that he didn’t want to make any hasty conclusions. He then remarked that Pakistan’s credibility in regards to terrorism is diminishing even faster than its foreign exchange reserves.

Jaishankar rejected Bhutto Zardari’s criticism of the G20 meeting in Srinagar and the revocation of Article 370, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir. He asserted that Pakistan has no right to comment on these issues and that the only topic of discussion on Kashmir should be when Pakistan will withdraw its illegal occupation of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Jaishankar also stated that Article 370 is now history and that people need to accept this reality as soon as possible.

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Jaishankar addressed Bhutto Zardari’s comments during the SCO meeting about “weaponizing terrorism for diplomatic point scoring” and interpreted it as revealing Pakistan’s attitude towards terrorism. He explained that if someone is “weaponizing” terrorism, it means they believe the act is legitimate. This implies that Pakistan considers terrorism as a legitimate action that should not be weaponized.

Regarding Bhutto Zardari’s visit to India and whether it represented a breakthrough, Jaishankar dismissed the notion and clarified that Bhutto Zardari came only as a foreign minister of an SCO member state. He urged people not to see it as anything more than that, as nothing that Bhutto Zardari said deserves any more significance than that.

Jaishankar’s Statement


According to insiders, Jaishankar’s strong stance during the news conference was motivated by several factors, including the upcoming election in Karnataka, the deaths of Indian soldiers in Rajouri, and Bhutto Zardari’s attempts to raise controversial issues in interviews with Indian media and Pakistani journalists.

One of the sources explained that Bhutto Zardari faced criticism from the opposition in Pakistan, and his success in raising contentious issues during the SCO meeting would have helped him score political points domestically. Additionally, there was a need to counter what Bhutto Zardari said in his interactions with the media in Goa.

Although the external affairs ministry spokesperson attempted to limit questions about Pakistan during Jaishankar’s news conference, the minister himself said he was prepared to answer all queries.

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Jaishankar’s calls for SCO

During the SCO meeting, Jaishankar urged the members to take strict measures against non-state actors and financing of terrorism. While addressing the gathering, which included the Chinese Foreign Minister, Qin Gang, he highlighted the significance of respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all the SCO states, specifically regarding connectivity projects.

Jaishankar reiterated at the news conference that took place later that day, with regard to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), that he had made it clear twice during the SCO meeting that connectivity projects should not violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of any state. It is worth noting that India has consistently opposed the CPEC as it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

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Bhutto Zardari, on the other hand, in his speech, referred to the CPEC as a powerful force for regional connectivity that can facilitate all countries in moving towards full regional economic integration.

The SCO meeting held at the Taj Exotica Resort in a coastal village attracted significant attention due to Bhutto Zardari’s participation as the first Pakistani foreign minister to visit India in almost 12 years. Jaishankar greeted all the foreign ministers with a namaste, which avoided the possibility of shaking hands with Bhutto Zardari in front of the media.

In his opening remarks, which were broadcasted, Jaishankar emphasized the importance of combating terrorism, which remains a significant threat despite the world’s focus on the Covid pandemic. He stated that terrorism cannot be justified and must be eradicated in all its forms, including cross-border terrorism.

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Jaishankar urges SCO to combat terrorism


Jaishankar stressed the need to seize and block the “channel of finances” that supports terrorism, without any discrimination. He reminded the members that fighting terrorism is one of SCO’s original mandates. In a tweet later, Jaishankar emphasized that no individual or state should hide behind non-state actors.

During his opening remarks, Jaishankar shared India’s priorities for SCO, which are summed up in the acronym “SECURE,” standing for security, economic development, connectivity, unity, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, and environmental protection.

Jaishankar also highlighted the importance of reform and modernization of the SCO, to keep it relevant in a rapidly changing world, as the grouping enters its third decade. He expressed India’s active support for this process, mentioning the progress made in admitting Iran and Belarus as full members of SCO and recognizing India’s long-standing demand to make English the third official language of the grouping.

Jaishankar announced that an MoU would be signed to include four countries as dialogue partners with the SCO, without specifying which countries they were. However, officials familiar with the matter identified the countries as Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, the Maldives, and Myanmar.

(With Input from Hindustan Times)

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