Recent comments by the Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto about the Indian Prime Minister at a personal level, showcases multiple facets of the Pakistani thought process which is known, but seldom understood. The need for recognition in Pakistan especially in the current political turmoil that the country finds itself creates a need for politicians to be able to showcase their thoughts on the inherent biggest issue in Pakistan, the enmity with India. The reasons for such a showcase could be many, especially with the impact at home.
It is ironic for a person of descent from the Bhutto Zardari family to be able to make comments on so-called human rights. When one just brushes off the dust we see his grandfather, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who is even today referred to as the main conspirator of the terrible events that took place in Bangladesh, then East Pakistan. His involvement is termed as the Larkana Conspiracy, a small town the birthplace of Bhutto. It was on a duck shooting trip that he and the then Military Dictator Yahya Khan planned how not to give power to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The rise of Taliban as a force has been attributed to his mother Benazir Bhutto, whose Interior Minister Maj Gen Naseerullah Babar, who would call them “my boys”. Her government had publicly supported the group in Afghanistan. During her term in the 90s she was instrumental in the Pakistan North Korean relationship, where North Korea was to supply Pakistan Missiles and Pakistan was to give “civilian nuclear technology”. The Zardaris have been controlling the province of Sindh which reports the highest number of atrocities against minorities especially Hindus. Has the foreign minister forgotten the history of his own family from his grandfather who was hanged, his father who was in jail and his mother who died during military dictatorships in Pakistan. He today stands pleasing the same system.
One big reason for his rhetoric is his need for recognition by the establishment, whose entire existence stands on an anti India stance. His multiple and frequent visits abroad are a signal of him trying to showcase a higher international acceptance which is achieved domestically by a strong naming of Kashmir. It is well known that no leader can survive in Pakistan without naming Kashmir in international forums. A hard anti India stance sells well amongst the people who have been indoctrinated to have hatred for India. Questions are already being raised within Pakistan on his efforts towards subverting his current Prime Minister who is from a different political party. A glaring difference of stand came across when the Petroleum Minister Musadik Masood Malik (from PMLN), joyfully had declared about Pakistan’s intentions of procuring oil from Russia. The foreign minister said that Pakistan is neither pursuing nor receiving Russian oil at a discounted price; however, the country is exploring options. This claim has again been refuted by the petroleum minister who stands on his statement of talking to Russia for procuring oil.
Pakistani media surprisingly was not chest thumping taking this story up but duly noted that Bilawal’s speech as a master performance by a new foreign minister, one who is trying to create a new space for himself and impress significant players in the country. On the other hand twitter did flare up for a day but quieted down as the internal politics in the country changes news trends very fast and the thought of the desired impact might not be achieved.
The Indian Response ‘Uncivilised, new low even for Pakistan’, from the MEA showcases the lack of official interest in getting involved in a verbal tussle with the Pakistanis. Indian response to this situation unofficially has been vociferous with marked protests and condemnation from the civil society including the muslim leaders in India. India also realised that the comments were made at a press conference of the G 77 summit and had little geopolitical impact as the Pakistanis regularly use multilateral forums to further their narratives supported by China.
There is also an understanding that officially taking up these loose statements would be fruitless as the world understands Pakistan, unlike earlier. The ironic efforts made by the Pakistanis to name India for incidents within Pakistan with a so-called Dossier, showcasing evidence against Indian agencies are another example of Pakistani leaders, who use these forums for self popularisation and garnering funds more than anything else.
As a country a more and more isolated Pakistan also realises that unless it is able to make a noise on the world stage especially of its Nuclear capability, it will lose the attention and would not be able to secure the funds needed for its survival. In a blatant statement mentioned in the form of a threat by another of Bilawal’s party ministers, Shazia Marri also showcases Pakistan’s obsession with its Nuclear Weapons and its Anti India stance. Both being from the same party probably shows a glimpse into the election narrative that this party would adopt especially to be supported by the establishment. This is primarily valid as his opponent Imran Khan has been mentioning India and its leaders appreciating their state craft.
In a unique turn of events Bilawal has been quoted to be stating that he is not afraid of the BJP (who protested) or anyone else as he is speaking from history. As a course of study in Pakistan history is what the ruler / army wanted it to be, clearly elucidated by the retiring General Bajwa, who blamed the defeat Pakistan in 71 to a political defeat rather than a military one. A highly futile belief as the military was at the helm of affairs in Pakistan during the war time.
In conclusion, one can foresee a rather desperate attempt by the politics in Pakistan to internationalise their issues and remain relevant. India has done well by ignoring “rants of a madman” from Pakistan, who would benefit looking into the future of their own standing within the country. Alas, what can one expect from someone from a country whose priorities are more towards reorganising its cricket board rather than saving its citizens from the after effects of the floods..
Author is the owner and host of the Youtube channel called DEF Talks by Aadi.
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