The outburst by Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New York was, in fact, aimed at derailing the serious discussions on the issue of terrorism at the elite global forums like the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Similarly, Bilawal Bhutto raised the Kashmir issue at a UNSC meet to divert the focus of the global community away from terrorism. Another indication that such theatrics by Bhutto gave was that Pakistan does not, in fact, intend to join the collective global war to counter terrorism. To be more specific, Islamabad wants to weaken the war against terrorists. Worth recalling here are the developments that bear testimony to the same. China in connivance with Islamabad has been trying to come to rescue of Pakistan based terrorists at the UNSC.

This is something that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) must take note of. What the terror financing watchdog must look into is how the Pakistan Foreign Minister tried to shift the focus away from serious deliberations on the counter-terrorism measures that External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar was trying to draw the world attention towards at the UNSC in New York last week. Is Pakistan really serious about combating terrorism emanating from the territory under its control? The global community including the FATF and the UNSC member countries must ask this question to Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. At least, Bhutto’s behaviour at UNSC does not give any indication about Pakistan’s seriousness. Rather, his rhetoric and outbursts cement the belief and perception that sponsoring and harbouring terrorism is the policy that the rulers in Islamabad pursue, regardless of the impact of the same on the international relations.

It was as if Bhutto came fully prepared to try and spoil the discussion on terrorism, as it was him who raked up the Kashmir issue first. Bhutto raised the Kashmir issue while speaking in the Council debate on reformed multilateralism. But he was aware that the session on counter terrorism the very next day will bring Pakistan embarrassing moments on the issue of terrorism. So, he tried to set the narrative by raising the Kashmir issue on the first day of the signature events at UNSC. However, his plan miserably failed.  Jaishankar rightly countered him by asserting that a country that hosted al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and attacked a neighbouring Parliament does not have credentials to sermonise. While presiding over the UNSC meeting on counter-terrorism a day later, Jaishankar again hit back at Pakistan obliquely referring to it as the epicentre of terrorism in his remarks. As a counter to Bhutto’s attempt to derail the discussion, Jaishankar did the right thing by taking a swipe at Islamabad. What the global community must be critical of Pakistan for is that Bhutto, after this, chose to launch a personal tirade against PM Modi. The Ministry of External Affairs came out with a befitting reaction when it condemned the statement calling it a new low even for Pakistan. Unfortunately, the briefings outside the UNSC were overshadowed by heated words between Jaishankar and his Pakistani counterpart Bilawal Bhutto. The Pakistani minister betrayed his intention and motive to run away from discussion on terrorism, knowing fully well that several unpleasant facts would be there for him to respond to. And he would be finding it difficult to defend his country on terrorism.  

Several analysts rightly point out that he also resorted to theatrics for the benefit of the domestic gallery. With the government in Pakistan having miserably failed to address the issues concerning the common people, the leaders from Islamabad try to use the global platforms to divert the focus of their own citizens from the core issues like what Bhutto did. That was another motive which might have been behind Bhutto’s Kashmir rhetoric.

India must not allow such Pakistan’s tactics to take the focus away from the task at hand. And, the task at hand is to ensure that the global community remains united and focused on the agenda of counter-terrorism.