India cautious of Pakistan’s bid to capitalise on Prophet row

New Delhi sees Bilawal’s talk with the OIC head as part of Islamabad’s agenda to drive a wedge between Islamic nations and India.

With India engaged in a massive diplomatic campaign to soothe the frayed nerves in the Arab world over the Prophet row, Pakistan is using the prevailing situation to whip up anti-India sentiments across the Islamic nations. Undeniably, Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto is involved in the entire campaign to tarnish India’s image. After raising the Prophet row at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) a few days ago, Bilawal contacted the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) for discussion on what he called “the rising Islamophobia” in India. Bilawal’s bid to reach out to OIC is being viewed by diplomats here as part of Islamabad’s agenda to drive a wedge between the Islamic countries and New Delhi.

In what keeps India more watchful, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari is likely to travel to

Tehran on a two-day official visit. He is likely to raise the Prophet issue there, sources said.  Sources told The Daily Guardian Review, “The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is keeping a close watch over Pakistan’s action in this regard. The strategy is to counter Pakistan not through statements only but also through diplomatic engagements with the Arab countries urging them not to believe the instigating statements and views, no matter where they come from.”

Pakistan FM spoke with OIC Secretary General Hissein Brahim Taha and discussed with him the issue of ‘Islamophobia in India’. Diplomats believe that Bilawal’s talk with OIC’s Taha is his agenda to make the forum issue another statement on behalf of the Islamic countries on the Prophet row. Sources say that OIC has already “got ample dose of India’s terse reaction on its first reaction”.  

What India is planning is to expose Pakistan’s sinister agenda to foment troubles for New Delhi. In what is being seen as a signal of this, Union Minister Prahlad Singh Patel on Saturday alleged Pakistan’s role behind violent protests that rattled various parts of the country over remarks against Prophet Muhammad. The minister said that “certain elements are jealous of India’s growing stature.” “It’s an open secret that Pakistan is the country which is jealous of India. All these protests are being held by some fanatics. Such incidents are sponsored by vested elements,” Patel said.

Union minister Patel’s statement is being viewed as part of India’s strategy to apprise the global community of Pakistan’s design to try to capitalize on the controversy. Diplomats inform that more such statements will be issued by India to expose Pakistan on this line. “The UN and other global institutions will definitely take note of the fact that the rulers in Islamabad are trying to exploit the situation at the cost of the common man’s life,” say diplomats.    

What is also in the knowledge of the UN is how some leaders in Pakistan have been behind the social media campaign to defame India after the row over Prophet remarks. Sources said that thousands of social media users ran a misinformation campaign related to the controversy.  

What India is cautiously watching is Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif asking the National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf to hold debate on a resolution to condemn “the blasphemous remarks” passed by the now suspended BJP leaders. India is getting ready with the counter if Pakistan goes ahead with this move.

India is not missing any chance to hit out at Pakistan every time it gets involved in these acts. India had outright rejected the OIC’s comments as “unwarranted and narrow-minded”. India had also described Pakistan’s criticism as ironical, given its own record with minorities.

Earlier, hitting back at Pakistan a day after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif took to Twitter to condemn the remarks over the Prophet, India categorically said that the absurdity of a serial violator of minority rights commenting on the treatment of minorities in another nation is not lost on anyone. The world has been a witness to the systemic persecution of minorities including Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Ahmadiyyas by Pakistan, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had said in a statement.