‘BJP’s propaganda of Muslims being terrorists is negated’

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Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has hailed his trip to India as a “success”, saying that the “false propaganda” of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that every Muslim was a terrorist had been negated.

The foreign minister made these remarks upon his return to Pakistan from India, where he spoke at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) moot on Friday.

Addressing the media in Karachi, Bilawal said: “The BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (a Hindu nationalist group in India) have been trying to create this myth — they declare Muslims across the world terrorists, they declare Pakistanis terrorists.

“We made an attempt at breaking this myth.”

He added, “I believe that when the son of Shaheed Mohatarma Benazir Bhutto’s son sits before them, no matter how much they try to level such allegations, this is a reply enough for them.”

The foreign minister said his party, the PPP, forwarded Hindu candidates for provincial and federal legislatures who went on to become ministers, adding that he was “surprised” to learn that the Bharatiya Janata Party had no Muslim candidate despite India having one of the biggest Muslim population in the world.

Bilawal was also asked about Indian Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar’s comments about him, where the dignitary from New Delhi reacted to the PPP chairperson urging SCO members to refrain from “weaponising terrorism for diplomatic point scoring”.

Jaishankar said Bilawal’s address “reveals the mindset of that country. His position was found out and called out.”

To a question about Jaishankar’s remarks, the foreign minister said, “I understand there is insecurity behind this criticism.”

The reason for this insecurity, he continued, was that a “false narrative, propaganda and lie” was being spread in India, particularly by the BJP.

“By going there and speaking and presenting our stance, we broke that myth and propaganda.

“They try to give the impression that every Muslim is a terrorist so that hatred spreads there (India) and they could win elections. They try to prove that every Pakistani is a terrorist, but when Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari sits before them, their false narrative and propaganda are negated even if I say nothing,” he added.

Pressing further, FM Bilawal termed Jaishankar’s comments about him being a perpetrator of terrorism as a “joke”.

“This country knows me, have I once even in my political history accidentally sat down with a terrorist? What can I do if their hate has reached this height that they want to declare all Muslims as terrorists, even me?

The foreign minister said a “bipartisan approach across the geopolitical divide” was needed to address terrorism. “We will have to combat it together as one and will keep being victims to it if we remain divided,” he added.

He said the narrative that terrorism was linked to Muslims had become “stale” across the world and Pakistan’s sacrifices in the fight against terrorism were acknowledged by the world.

Bilawal went on to say that another “lie” that India was trying to spread was that the United Nations Security Council’s resolutions, international laws and bilateral agreements held no importance, adding that Pakistan’s representatives continued to counter India’s narrative on Kashmir.

He said that what frustrated India was the refusal of Pakistanis and Kashmiris to accept the Indian government’s actions of August 5, 2019, when it revoked occupied Kashmir’s special status, adding that the development had instead given “new life” to the Kashmir cause.

“As Pakistan’s representatives, we talk on terrorism and Kashmir, counter their (India) propaganda and one-sided message so that is why maybe the Indian FM seemed so emotional to you in his press conference,” FM Bilawal said.

He said Pakistan and India had held talks before despite instances of terrorism so the two would now have to decide “will we allow these terrorists and non-state actors to determine decisions of our citizens’ fate of or will we ourselves chart the course of our future.”

Bilawal questioned how long India could deny international laws and UNSC resolutions or how long it could run away from a plebiscite in Kashmir.

“I think the arc of history is long but ultimately it bends towards justice. We will find a solution, if we decide beforehand that we don’t like their face and won’t even go to multilateral [events] and SCO then tomorrow we won’t go to the UN or other places and will keep closing doors for ourselves.

“So this decision I made to go was in that context. We went and left a footprint, in future maybe someone else can find a solution while walking on those footprints,” he said.

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