External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday called his Pakistani counterpart Bilawal Bhutto Zardari a “promoter, justifier and spokesperson of a terrorism industry”.
The minister made the statement while addressing mediapersons hours after he hosted foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which also includes Pakistan, in Goa. Zardari, who also attended the meeting, was the first Pakistani foreign minister to travel to India in nearly 12 years.
“As a promoter, justifier and, I am sorry to say, spokesperson of a terrorism industry which is the mainstay of Pakistan, his [Zardari’s] positions were called out and they were countered, including at the SCO meeting itself,” Jaishankar said.
At the meeting, Zardari spoke on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and called it a force multiplier for regional connectivity.
However, Jaishankar said that India made it very clear that the “so-called corridor” cannot violate the territorial integrity and sovereignty of countries.
The China Pakistan Economic Corridor consists of a network of infrastructure and energy projects. It is an integral part of Beijing’s $900 billion Belt and Road Initiative. India says that the corridor violates its territorial integrity as it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
In response to a separate question, Jaishankar said: “Victims of terrorism do not sit together with perpetrators of terrorism to discuss terrorism. Victims of terrorism defend themselves, counter acts of terrorism, they call it out, they delegetimise it, and that is exactly what is happening. So to come here and preach these hypocritical words as though we are in the same boat...I don’t want to jump the gun on what happened today, but I think we’re all feeling equally outraged.”
During the meeting that took place earlier in the day, Jaishankar had said that there can be no justification for terrorism and it must be stopped in all its forms and manifestations, including cross-border terrorism. “The channel of finances for terrorist activities must be seized and blocked without distinction,” Jaishankar had said. “Members need not be reminded that combating terrorism is one of the original mandates of the SCO [Shanghai Cooperation Organization].”
Following Jaishankar’s comments, Zardari had said that terrorism should not weaponised to gain diplomatic points.
“It is imperative that willful provocations and incitement to hate, especially on religious grounds, are roundly condemned,” Zardari had said. “It is our collective duty to fight against fascism and historical revisionism that is leading to violent ultra nationalism anywhere in the world.”