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Linking Terrorism with Islam is Mistaken Notion: Bilawal

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On Thursday, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari urged the international community to help Pakistan combat and go after those who backed, supported, financed, and facilitated terrorism in Pakistan.

In a press briefing after he hosted the Ministerial Conference of G-77 Plus China, the foreign minister apprised the media of a dossier issued by Pakistan containing the pieces of evidence of Indian involvement in a terror attack in the Johar Town area of Lahore in 2021.

He said Pakistan had also sought the United Nations to list four individuals associated with the attack in Pakistan, which was aimed at targeting Pakistan’s economic engagement with China under the One Belt and One Road Initiative.

He said a former Indian National Security Advisor was also on record to have confessed the Indian backing of terrorism in Pakistan.

Calling upon the Indian government to end such tactics, the foreign minister said the terrorists would not be content to attack only Pakistan. Rather one day, they would hit India too.

To a question, he said, “Osama Bin Laden is dead, but the Butcher of Gujarat is alive and the prime minister of India. This is RSS’s prime minister and foreign minister, which derives inspiration from Hitler.”

He said the RSS did not believe in the ideology of Gandhi but instead treated his killer as a hero.

“We should finally work together to end this longstanding point of irritation between the two countries…Let us look to the future and ensure to going forward,” he remarked.

He told the media that in an open debate held on Wednesday, Pakistan had sought reforms and emphasised that permanent members had been unable to address the host of issues at the UN which necessitated the further democratisation of the world body.

Regarding the UNSC’s meeting on counter-terrorism, he said it could have been more “inclusive and transparent” if it was held as an open debate allowing all countries, particularly Pakistan to share their experiences and strategy to defeat terrorism.

He said Pakistan was proud to have simultaneously fulfilled two action plans of the FATF. Due to the same achievement, Pakistan aspired to become a FATF member to share its experiences with other countries.

Bilawal Bhutto said that linking terrorism with Islam is a mistaken notion. He called for the world to move away from the Islamophobic narrative and framing of terrorism as terrorism knew no religion or boundaries.

He said instead of knowing Muslims as a victim of terrorism, they were defined by those who carried out the attacks because the perpetrators were Muslims.

He said as to statistics, and more Muslims were killed in terrorist attacks from 2001 to 2022.

About the flood-caused devastation in Pakistan, the foreign minister told the media that many parts of Sindh and Balochistan were yet under water.

He said the flood-hit areas were faced with climate, health and education emergencies with malaria spreading and 47% of schools infrastructure partly or entirely damaged.

He thanked the UN Secretary-General, who would co-host a conference in Geneva on January 9, for building the climate resilience of Pakistan.

Coming to Afghanistan, the foreign minister called for the international community to engage with the Afghan government and also emphasised the measures to address the challenging economic situation of the war-torn country deteriorated by the frozen assets and closed banking channels.

However, he also urged the Afghan government to fulfil its commitment to the international community for the rights of women and girls’ education.

Asked about the attack on Imran Khan, the foreign minister emphasised the Punjab government to carry out a thorough investigation into an attack on the former prime minister. For the federal government’s part, the prime minister has written a letter to the superior judiciary for a judicial commission, he added.

He opposed the notion of the popularity of Imran Khan, saying that he had lost his own party’s seats in the by-election and that he failed to gather an impressive crowd for his Rawalpindi procession.

Regarding an attack on Pakistan’s head of Mission in Kabul, he said the country had raised security concerns with the Afghan government, which had also assured to apprehend the culprits.

He said the envoy was in Pakistan for consultations and would return to his office once the security concerns were addressed.

Regarding the improvement in the Pak-US ties, he said after 2001, 90% of the discussions marked terrorism and extremism but currently, it was replaced by talks on cooperation in health, climate change and economic opportunities.

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