External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday hit out Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s ‘weaponising terrorism” remarks at the SCO meeting here and said “as a promoter, justifier and spokesperson of a terrorism industry which is the mainstay of Pakistan, his positions were called out and countered” including at the meeting. Addressing a press conference after the SCO Foreign Ministers’ meeting held here on Thursday, Jaishankar called out Bilawal Bhutto over Pakistan’s double standards on terrorism.

The minister said as Foreign Minister of an SCO member state, Bhutto Zardari was treated accordingly. Jaishankar said on terrorism, Pakistan’s credibility is depleting faster than even its Forex reserves. “They are committing acts of terrorism.

I don’t want to jump the gun on what happened today but we are all feeling equally outraged. On this matter, the terrorism matter, I would say that Pakistan’s credibility is depleting faster than even its Forex reserves,” he said. “As a Foreign Minister of an SCO member state, Mr Bhutto Zardari was treated accordingly. As a promoter, justifier and spokesperson of a terrorism industry which is the mainstay of Pakistan, his positions were called out and countered including at the SCO meeting itself,” he added.

Ruling out bilateral talks till Pakistan addresses India’s concerns on cross-border terrorism, Jaishankar said victims of terrorism do not sit together with perpetrators of terrorism to discuss terrorism. “Victims of terrorism defend themselves, counter acts of terrorism, they call it out, they legitimise it and that is exactly what is happening. To come here and preach these hypocritical words as though we are on the same boat,” he said on a question on India-Pakistan ties, including a question from Pakistani journalist. “He came here as the Foreign Minister of an SCO Member State.

That is part of multilateral diplomacy. Don’t see it as anything more than that. I think that nothing from what he said or what I heard he said deserves for this to be treated more than that,” Jaishankar said. In his opening remarks at the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers meeting in Goa on Friday, S Jaishankar expressed concern at terrorism including cross-border terrorism.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari arrived in Goa on Thursday, the first such visit by a Pakistani foreign minister to India in nearly 12 years India has consistently raised the issue of Pakistan’s continued support to cross-border terrorism and terrorist infiltration. It has said that the people of Jammu and Kashmir have borne the brunt of this terrorism campaign for decades and continue to do so. The spectre of terrorism surfaced again in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday with Army engaged in an encounter with Pakistan-backed terrorists in Rajouri district with the incident taking place on a day Bilawal Bhutto was in Goa to take part in the SCO meet.

Five soldiers lost their lives in the anti-terror operation in the Kandi area of Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri on Thursday. The encounter with terrorists in Rajouri is taking place in a thickly vegetated area with rocky and steep cliffs. On April 20, an Army vehicle passing Bhimber Gali and Poonch in the Rajouri sector of Jammu and Kashmir was fired upon, by unidentified terrorists, which lead to the death of five soldiers. Terrorists were suspected to have been from the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). In his remarks at the SCO meet, Jaishankar said that while the world was engaged in facing COVID and its consequences, the menace of terrorism continues unabated.

“Taking our eyes of this menace would be detrimental to our security interests. We firmly believe that there can be no justification for terrorism and it must be stopped in all its forms and manifestations, including cross-border terrorism,” he said. Jaishankar said the channel of finances for terrorist activities must be seized and blocked without distinction. “Members need not be reminded that combating terrorism is one of the original mandates of the SCO,” he said.

In his remarks, Bilawal Bhutto said terrorism should not be “weaponised” for diplomatic point scoring. “Let’s not get caught up in weaponising terrorism for diplomatic point scoring,” he said. India has said that talks and terror cannot go together and it is for Pakistan to create a conducive atmosphere for bilateral talks.