THIS is with reference to the report ‘Bilawal responds forcefully to Indian terror allegations’ (Dec 16) and the editorial ‘Deteriorating ties’ (Dec 18). When Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrah-manyam Jaishankar referred to Pakistan having ‘harboured’ Osama bin Laden, Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari responded by telling him that Osama was dead, while Narendra Modi, the butcher of Gujarat, was alive and was, in fact, the prime minister of India.
In this connection, the following points should be noted. First, while going ahead with the operation in Abbottabad, Barack Obama, the then United States (US) president thought he would have a tough time explaining it to the then Pakistani president. “I expected my most difficult call to be with Pakistan’s beleaguered president, Asif Ali Zardari, who would surely face a backlash at home over our violation of Pakistani sovereignty.” (Barack Obama, A Promised Land, New York, Crown, 2020, p.696).
It is rather strange that uppermost in the American president’s mind was the violation of Pakistani sovereignty, and not Pakistan’s perfidy in harbouring a terrorist with a prize on his head. The only possible explanation is that Pakistan had itself alerted the US about the Al Qaeda leader’s presence in Abbottabad.
The Indian foreign minister’s riposte that the Pakistani foreign minister’s grandfather, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, had to eat humble pie at Simla in 1972 is belied by a leader of his own party, the late prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who stated thus: “Bhutto had achieved at Simla all three objectives he had set himself, namely, getting back the territory under Indian occupation, securing the release of the prisoners of war, and re-opening the Kashmir issue.” (G.S. Bhargava, Success or Surrender, New Delhi, Sterling, 1972, p.6). Thus, Jaishankar is not at odds with Bilawal, but with Vajpayee on this count.
With regard to the nuclear threat, president Bhutto on Nov 28, 1972, had proposed declaring South Asia a nuclear-free zone, and it was India that tested in 1974. If India had not gone nuclear in 1974, Pakistan would have had no reason to follow suit.
A bomb for survival is more potent than a bomb for hegemony. Further, Pakistan has little to lose. Being singed would be mercy killing compared to life under Modi. Pakistan would perhaps be wiped out in a nuclear war, but would India survive?
Furthermore, it is ludicrous for the Indian foreign minister to boast about India’s interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan in 1972 when New Delhi wants the world to stay away from occupied Kashmir as it was an internal matter of India.
Even that claim, mind you, is rejected by various world leaders, including United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, who have often decried human rights violations in the occupied valley.
Dr Muhammad Reza Kazimi
Published in Dawn, December 23rd, 2022
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