Foreign Minister S Jaishankar has called his Pakistani counterpart Bilawal Bhutto Zardari the “promoter, justifier and spokesperson of a terrorism industry”.
“Victims of terrorism do not sit together with its perpetrators to discuss terrorism,” Mr Jaishankar said after a meeting of foreign ministers of the member nations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Goa.
“Bhutto Zardari came as Foreign Minister of a SCO member state; that’s part of multilateral diplomacy and we don’t see anything more than that,” Mr Jaishankar said.
The two foreign ministers did not hold a bilateral at the SCO meeting.
“On terrorism, Pakistan’s credibility is depleting even faster than its forex reserves,” Mr Jaishankar said in a clear swipe at Pakistan’s struggle with a huge financial crisis that has forced the country to knock from door to door for loans.
Mr Jaishankar’s comments come on a day when five Indian Army soldiers were killed in action during an operation to find terrorists hiding in a forest near Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch. The terrorists, suspected to be Pakistanis, had ambushed an army truck last week, killing five other soldiers.
India has umpteen times showed proof of Pakistan’s active involvement in supporting terrorism on its soil to arm and send terrorists to Jammu and Kashmir. UN designated global terrorist Masood Azhar, 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed and many others are in Pakistan.
Mr Zardari, the son of assassinated Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, is the first Pakistani Foreign Minister to visit India in nearly 12 years. In 2011, then Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar had visited India. The last minister-level visit from Pakistan was in 2016 by Sartaj Aziz.
At the SCO meeting, Mr Jaishankar called for united efforts to fight terrorism. He said taking eyes off terrorism would be bad for the SCO.
“We must not allow anybody – individual or state – to hide behind non-state actors… While the world was engaged in facing Covid and its consequences, the menace of terrorism continued unabated. Taking our eyes of this menace would be detrimental to our security interests,” Mr Jaishankar said.